Let’s be rational about the whole issue, because if there’s one thing you don’t expect MSD to do, it’s to make irrational decisions.
So why did MSD step down?
1. To give Virat Kohli enough time to prepare for 2019 world cup as a captain.
On an average, a new captain takes 18-20 months to fit into the new role and find the right balance for the team. So if Virat is to lead us in 2019 — which is a virtual certainty — then this was the time for Dhoni to step down.
He’s an intelligent man, and the team still needs him. So he knows what’s best for the team and he’s doing just that.
2. To focus on his batting.
To be entirely honest, his captaincy is eating away into his batting. He’s no longer the same finisher he once was. Those last over heroics with the bat have become far and few. 13-15 runs in the last over no longer seem like an easy task.
And we’re in dire need of a finisher. We need a solid number 4-5-6 if we’ve to lift that Cup in England. So quite likely Kholi will promote Dhoni up the order to 4 or 5 as often as possible and give him long innings to play until he finds a spot that suits him best. He needs to build that fearless confidence of his old self up again.
3. To give us a good wicket-keeper.
There’s also the matter of wicket-keeping. As the recent test matches with England have demonstrated, neither Saha or Patel come anywhere close to the high standard set by Dhoni when it comes to keeping the wickets. And that’s a big drawback for us. Dhoni needs to train the new lads. With the burden of captaincy, that’s not entirely possible.
Relieving Dhoni from his captaincy will let him spend less time with the coaches strategizing and more time on-field, with the boys, where he can contribute a lot more to shaping the team. Where he, and Kholi, can build a team that has a fighting chance of winning the Cup in the unfavourable English conditions.
4. To avoid the politics.
It also keeps him away from the petty politics of the management, which we know is rampant within the ranks of BCCI. And as far as his contribution to the game plan is concerned, I’m sure ki Kohli respects Dhoni too much to ignore his ideas. He’ll surely be a big part of all the major decisions during the course of the play.
I don’t think Dhoni must have been too concerned with the management even when he was captain, but there is some pressure from the top, always. After all, his beard didn’t grey on its own!
5. The timing.
Most importantly, it’s as good a time as any to give Kohli the captaincy. We’ve just won a brilliant test series. The English team is wary and beaten mentally. We have the home team advantage. We’re at a moral high. It would be very easy for Kohli to transition into his new role now, rather than say, a few months from now when we’ll be facing a much stronger Australian side.
And finally, the team management could never ask Dhoni to step down. He’s too powerful to even think about that. It has to be his decision. He has to say, “that’s it. I’m stepping down.” And I’m sure that’s what must have happened.
All in all, good decision by MSD in the interest of the team. There’s still a lot of cricket left in him, only now, he’ll be free. Like the post-captaincy Tendulkar of the 2005-2011 era.
This is the resurgence of a legend.