NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Mahendra Singh Dhoni stepped down as India’s limited-overs captain on Wednesday after a trophy-laden nine-year reign.
The 35-year-old wicketkeeper-batsman, who rose from the cricketing backwaters of Jharkhand to lead the game’s most passionately-followed team, will stand aside as captain immediately, but will remain available to play in the limited overs series against England later this month.
“On the behalf of every Indian cricket fan and the BCCI, I would like to thank MS Dhoni for his outstanding contribution as the captain of the Indian team across all formats,” chief executive of the Board Of Control For Cricket In India (BCCI) Rahul Johri said in a statement.
“Under his leadership, the Indian team has touched new heights and his achievements will remain etched forever in the annals of Indian cricket,” he added.
Dhoni quit test cricket in late 2014, with India having topped the rankings in the game’s longest format under his inspiring captaincy, which was marked by innovative field-setting and smart marshalling of his bowlers.
Known initially for his flowing locks and swashbuckling batting, with the latter making him an automatic choice in limited overs squads, Dhoni was first put in charge of India’s 20-over team which won the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007.
He soon became their one-day captain and in 2011 he sealed India’s 50-over World Cup victory with a six at Mumbai’s Wankhede Stadium to etch his name permanently into the country’s cricketing folklore.
Since his international debut in a one-dayer against Bangladesh in 2004, Dhoni has become a household name in India and inspired a Bollywood biopic in 2016.
Dhoni’s exit as captain, however, was considered just a matter of time. With Virat Kohli excelling as test captain, the pressure had been mounting on selectors to put the Delhi player in charge across all formats.
The selectors are expected to make Kohli India’s limited-overs captain when they meet on Friday to pick teams for the one-day and Twenty20 matches against England.
Since taking charge in 2007, Dhoni captained India in 199 one-dayers, winning 110 and losing 74.
He also skippered India in 72 Twenty20 Internationals, with 41 wins and 28 losses.
Dhoni not only holds the record for most matches as captain of an international side, with 331 games across all formats, but he is also the only captain to have won all three ICC trophies — ODI World Cup, World Twenty20 and Champions Trophy.
Dhoni has been a familiar face on billboards in cricket-mad India and he is only overshadowed in that respect by retired batting great Sachin Tendulkar.
Nicknamed ‘Captain Cool’ for his calm leadership, Dhoni established himself as one of the best finishers in cricket with a habit of sealing victory with a six, as he demonstrated most famously in the 2011 World Cup final against Sri Lanka.
Beginning on Jan. 15, India will play three one-dayers and as many Twenty20 Internationals against England.
Editing by Toby Davis