Kohli steps in as India captain Dhoni bows out of Tests

India's MS Dhoni. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA.
India's MS Dhoni. Picture: Martin Rickett/PA.
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India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has retired from Test cricket with immediate effect.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India announced the news shortly after the 33-year-old wicketkeeper batsman had led India to a draw in the third Test against Australia in Melbourne.

Virat Kohli will take over the captaincy for the fourth and final Test, which begins in Sydney on January 6, with India trailing 2-0 in the series.

Dhoni played 144 innings at Test level, scoring 4,876 runs at an average of 38.09, having made his debut on home soil against Sri Lanka in December, 2005.

It was in the shorter formats where he was handed his first taste of international captaincy two years later, with success following in the final of the World Twenty20 against Pakistan.

He then took the reins of the Test team in 2008 and under his tutelage India rose to the top of the International Cricket Council rankings in December, 2009, staying at the summit for 18 months.

Dhoni also led the side to victory in the 50-over World Cup in 2011, but he began to come under pressure at Test level after India suffered eight successive away match losses and were then beaten on home soil for the first time in eight years with a 2-1 series defeat to England in late 2012.

Since then, India have continued to slide and lie sixth in the Test rankings, with another series loss to England last summer and the poor run of form in Australia culminating in Dhoni’s decision to retire.

Kohli will pick up the captaincy baton, having led the side out in the opening Test of the Australia tour in the absence of an injured Dhoni.

Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane helped spare India’s blushes in Melbourne.

Chasing a victory target of 384 on day five, India were on the ropes when they were reduced to 19-3 after just eight overs.

But a fourth-wicket stand of 85 between Kohli and Rahane set the tourists back on track and they ploughed on to reach 174-6 before captains Dhoni and Steve Smith shook hands.

The home side resumed on 261-7 in their second innings, a lead of 326, but their hopes of pushing on were not helped by early rain delays.

Shaun Marsh moved his overnight score of 62 on towards a likely third Test century only to be run out on 99, with Kohli making a direct hit which prompted the declaration on 318-9.