MELBOURNE/MUMBAI: Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Tuesday surprised the cricket world with his sudden announcement of immediate retirement from Test cricket, making way for Virat Kohli to don the mantle of captaincy.
Announcement of Dhoni's retirement after the wicketkeeper-batsman had played in 90 Test matches, 60 of them as captain, was made immediately after India lost the current Test series to Australia following a drawn third Test here.
"One of India's greatest Test Captains under whose leadership India became the No. 1 team in the Test Rankings MS Dhoni, has decided to retire from Test Cricket citing the strain of playing all formats of Cricket," the BCCI said in a statement.
"MS Dhoni has chosen to retire from Test Cricket with immediate effect in order to concentrate on ODI and T20 formats. BCCI while respecting the decision of M S Dhoni to retire from Test Cricket, wishes to thank him for his enormous contribution to Test Cricket and the laurels that he has brought to India," it added.
India, trailing 0-2 in the four-match series after today's draw, would be led by the 26-year-old Kohli in the fourth and final match in Sydney. Kohli has been India's standout performer with the bat in the ongoing series, having scored three hundreds so far.
"Virat Kohli will be the captain of the Indian Team for the Fourth and Final Test against Australia to be played in Sydney from the 6th of January 2015," the BCCI stated.
MS Dhoni stretches out to play a sweep against Australia during the third Test in Melbourne. (AP Photo)
The 33-year-old Dhoni, however, did not speak about his retirement at the post-match press conference or at the presentation ceremony. The announcement was made through a BCCI press release.
The BCCI statement was a bolt from the blue as Dhoni, despite his poor overseas track record as captain, had not given any indication that he would step down in the near future.
Dhoni's captaincy record since June 2011
Dhoni, who led India to an unprecedented two World Cup titles (2007 Twenty20 World Championships and the 2011 ODI World Cup), had been drawing flak for India's poor run in overseas Tests. India have won just six away Tests out of the 30 that Dhoni has captained.
Among the most embarrassing defeats under Dhoni were the 0-4 whitewashes suffered in England (2011) and Australia (2011-12). Besides the team also suffered defeats in South Africa and New Zealand and had been beaten by England yet again this summer.
Yet the wicketkeeper-batsman remains one of the most successful captains ever for India, having led the side to the top of ICC rankings in Tests in 2009.
With the team continuing to perform badly overseas, pressure was mounting on Dhoni to quit the job with former players and critics questioning his defensive leadership in the longer format.
The criticism notwithstanding, Dhoni today became the Indian captain to score most runs in Tests, making 3454 runs, going past Sunil Gavaskar (3449), Mohammad Azharuddin (2856) and Sourav Ganguly (2561).