Mahendra Singh Dhoni (Image: Getty)
Growing up in an era when Indian cricket captaincy was limited to Mohammad Azharuddin, Sachin Tendulkar and then Sourav Ganguly, I could make out that captaincy was not easy then or rather it is indeed not an easy job.
Azharuddin had seen success at home but struggled overseas. Sachin's stint was rather disappointing as his personal exploits could not match up with the captaincy record.
Another indicator how difficult it is to captain a side. Being a super achiever, he could easily get disappointed when others could not perform as per his standards.
Some say captain is as good as team while some say superlative leadership transforms the team into champion. Both of them could be true. But with arrival of Ganguly, I sensed that leadership is also a natural tendency.
I could easily make out that he relished the job. Like a true passionate leader, he trusted on his gut feelings. He started making decisions which were quite unorthodox.
One of them would be telling Virender Sehwag to open in test matches. Backing players like Yuvraj Singh early in his career. He almost established a team based on his convictions.
All these things translated in team's success. Team was doing well yet was not close to being called an invincible team.
But, what a whirlwind of a tenure Mahendra Singh Dhoni achieved. He conquered world T20 and then ODI world cup. In between, there were superlative and dominating performances.
In his regime, I can easily spot the ‘dominance’ - which is a word hitherto not known to Indian cricket. He sat on such a threshold that being on top was no more an elusive thing or a thing to die for. We used to yearn to achieve supremacy in world cricket. And, it was indeed a fact during MSD's captaincy.
One can argue that he inherited a good team but what about that world cup winning 90 odd runs while chasing in world cup final. He did it on his own and with such a swagger that he actually ended the game with a six. Wonder, when that would again become a possibility.
I differed with this generation when they often referred the man having Midas touch whenever he achieved great things. I could still believe and had seen that captaincy was not easy.
We generally tend to find the formula behind success or try to read into the success when such exceptional performances come. People attributing his success as only a by-product of luck had easily forgot to see the man's bravery, poise, confidence, equanimity, wit, tactical acumen and so on.
I can safely say on a day when he himself put curtains on his captaincy (also a rare thing in Indian cricket when captains have always been axed) that he indeed was the best ever captain.
A possible premise that suffices the end as record also states it. Man has achieved so much. An able shoulder which carried Indian cricket with all dignity and pride. Salutes champion. You achieved great many things.
Salutes!! You indeed made captaincy an easy job. Seldom that we see it actually happening. At the twilight of the career, we hope that you will keep entertaining us with helicopter shots and sending the ball out of park.
Looking forward, it is not a great conundrum to make out that Test skipper Virat Kohli will be given responsibility to lead ODI and T20 teams. As in his short career as Test skipper, he has proved that he has it in him to carry forward the great legacy of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. His Test career so far has also been impressive.
He has recently achieved 18-match unbeaten streak in test matches which is commendable effort by any means or standard. We can safely assume that Indian cricket is in able hands.
The success story of Indian cricket team which started by Ganguly transformed into new heights with Dhoni and with Virat at the helm, we can expect good things in the future as he has inherited many things including calmness from his predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
(Views expressed by the author is his personal)