Considered by many as the best Indian cricket team captain of all times and believed by all as one of the best finishers of the game, MS Dhoni has definitely carved a niche for himself in the annals of the sport. The ex-Indian skipper also carries the tag of someone who prefers promoting and backing young players, turning their fortunes in the process. But in doing so over the years, he has invited both applaud and dissent from the Indian cricket fraternity, pundits and fans alike.

Despite allegations of him being a puppet of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI), Dhoni was instrumental in the selection process and often stated his desire to create a perfect mix of experience and youth in the team. Often being held responsible for the ousting of senior cricketers over the years, he has paved way for everlasting debates.

Thus, without further ado, we list out three big players whose inevitable downfall was unintentionally orchestrated by Captain Cool.


Two innings of the highest calibre in the 2007 World T20 final and a sensational knock of 97 in the 2011 World Cup final just couldn’t convince Dhoni to keep Gautam Gambhir in his playing XI. Gambhir recalled an incident when Dhoni expressed his opinion of not playing Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and the left-hander together in the CB series back in 2012. Gambhir recalled that Dhoni took the decision given the massive size of the grounds and an ever-looming possibility of leaking runs.

In an interview to India Today, Gambhir mentioned, "In the 2012 Tri-series in Australia, Dhoni declared that he can't play all three (Gambhir, Sachin and Sehwag) of us together as he was looking ahead at the 2015 World Cup.”

AFP/Lakruwan Wanniarachchi

However, in the eyes of Dhoni, it was a practical decision which would eventually pave the way for youngsters, though it would mean putting a halt to Gambhir’s position in the team. The swashbuckling batsman had a string of poor spells post the 2011 World Cup, which was enough for Dhoni to axe him from the Indian team and field a promising young player. The Delhi lad played his last ODI back in January 2013 against England and announced his retirement from all forms of cricket last year.


The veteran off-spinner was the leader of the ‘spin’ pack for Team India by the end of the first decade of the 21st century. The prominent spinner had played a massive role in India’s victories at home and away, claiming 417 wickets in 103 Test matches, and carving a prominent place for himself in the squad.

AFP/Indranil Mukherjee

However, his struggle with the national team began when Ravichandran Ashwin was introduced by the ex-India skipper. The selectors considered Dhoni’s proposal of nourishing Ashwin for the 2015 World Cup in Australia and selected him over Harbhajan. With Ashwin’s batting skills being an added advantage, Dhoni decided to give a greater depth to his batting unit.

Around the same time, a certain Ravindra Jadeja stormed onto the national stage as a blazing all-rounder and ended all hopes for the ‘Turbanator’ to make his way back in the team.


The star of the Indian middle-order for almost a decade and the ‘Man of the Series’ in the 2011 World Cup, Yuvraj Singh faced an unfortunate end during Dhoni’s reign as the Indian captain. Yuvraj never really recovered in his professional career after he victoriously defeated a deadly cancer that had taken roots in his body.

Despite making a comeback to international cricket in 2012, the left-handed batsman never really took off and thus, was hidden behind the shadows of younger stars who were given the nod ahead of him by Dhoni. He averaged 27 post the 2011 World Cup and didn’t fit into Dhoni’s plans.

Gaining a reputation as a lethal all-rounder with his pinpoint accuracy, his tryst with the ball also didn’t bear any results. His lowest moment was in the 2014 World T20 final where he faced a lot of heat for scoring 11 off just 21 balls. That was a solid enough evidence to prove that the lad from Punjab had run out of steam. Making his way in and out of the team in the next two years, Yuvraj finally hung his boots and decided to quit international cricket in June 2019.

Feature image courtesy: AFP/Prakash Singh