Hyderabad: Those who have followed MS Dhoni's career closely wouldn't have missed that extra enthusiasm in his celebration after India wrapped up the Hyderabad Test. Normally a smile would be followed by the uprooting of a stump for his souvenir collection. But the occasion was extra special. With the second Test victory he became the most successful India Test captain. Some may find it hard to believe it has actually happened, but he has surpassed Sourav Ganguly's record of 21.
Typical of him, he underplayed the feat later. But, when he pumped his fist in celebration and exchanged high-fives, he showed it meant a lot to him too.
The record has come after the most tumultuous period in his captaincy. A few months ago, it was doubtful whether he would get the opportunity to even take aim at it. Few men have survived three big series reversals in two seasons. He has the Indian board chief to thank for persisting with him despite the 4-0 routs in England and Australia, followed by the defeat against England at home.
Although the two wins have came at home on tailor-made pitches, Dhoni too seems to have rediscovered his touch. Both in Chennai and Hyderabad, he marshaled his spinners beautifully. Dhoni has now led India to five straight Test wins over Australia at home, starting with Nagpur in 2008.
It has reminded experts of his halcyon days as captain - pre-England 2011. That was a phase when he teamed up with coach Gary Kirsten. The two, apart from guiding India to the No 1 ranking in Tests, helped produce some good performances away from home. The big ones were the series win in New Zealand and drawing the series in South Africa in 2010-11.
Ajit Wadekar, who led India to two memorable away series wins, in West Indies and England in the 1970s, was elated. "I have always rated him the best India captain ever. He is absolutely calm and cool. And most importantly, he leads by example."
The former India manager added: "He's established a fine balance between senior and junior players. He must be given an extended run in the job."
Dhoni himself brushed aside the extra emphasis on the record, saying, "I think it's overrated and hyped".
He added: "I don't think this number really matters for us. What's important is that in the last two matches we have done really well. If you see in our dressing room right now, we are not bothered who has won how many matches. What's important is to win Test matches. The more consistent we become the better it is for the side."
Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.