Dear Mahi bhai,
I don't know if this ever reaches you but half of my childhood has passed watching you make some maverick decisions that have paid off exceptionally well in the team's favour. No one has graced that space behind the stumps as much as you have.
As you step down from your captaincy, a part of me seems to have diminished from my soul. It's been almost a decade since you first filled in the leader's shoes and began with a fairytale WT20 win.
There has been no stopping you. Those decisions of trusting Joginder Sharma in both semifinals as well as the finals showed us your courage and fearlessness as a captain. We got a captain who was willing to take risks and turning everything he touched into gold.
In a nation where star cricketers are treated like Gods, you had the courage to take a bold decision by dropping stalwarts from the side who had been below par on the field. While everyone thought this move was gonna backfire, it turned out to be a masterstroke.
In the field, you've rarely allowed emotions to get the better of you. In the most pressure situations, you've managed to keep your calm which has helped India pull off some splendid victories out of nowhere.
A great example of this can be the World Cup finals. Inspite of being out of form, you were brave enough to promote yourself above the man in form, in a match that the nation had awaited for 28 long years. Knowing the consequences if the move might have backfired, you displayed a grit of fearlessness which a few might have dared to exhibit.
Every champion team tends to face failure at some stage and you've had your own share as a skipper. In those tough times, the way you demonstrated your ascendancy and character as a leader showed another aspect of your captaincy. You've never shied away from taking unprecedented decisions.
Being selfless leads to extraordinary things. You've always put team's interest ahead of anything else. For years, you've donned the finishing role and promoted young talent up the batting order. However when the team has been in trouble, you've taken responsibility with both hands and paced your innings according to the situation.
The most spectacular thing about these innings is the fact that we always had the belief in you. In our minds, there was always a man in frame who could take India home and no prizes for guessing that was you.
If a leader had to adopt one of your traits it would be to identify a youngster's potential, show them what they are capable of, inspire them to achieve it and then to back them despite criticism. That's a big reason why India underwent the transition phase so smoothly under you.
Trusting Ishant to bowl in the Champions Trophy final, backing Rohit Sharma and Dhawan inspite of repeated failures, thrusting confidence on Ashwin and Jadeja to spin a web around the opposition and many more at different junctures has paid off in a scintillating way for the team.
Another important quality that makes me admire you is remaining undaunted after defeats. Be it the heartbreaking losses in the WT20 2014 final or the semis losses in World Cup 2015 and the most recent WT20, the absolute tranquility in your voice gave us immense strength to cope with it. If nothing, it has given us the calm demeanour to accept things the way they are.
Now that you've decided to step down from captaincy, all these memories flashback on me. I respect your decision completely, but the thought of you not walking out for the toss again is quite soul stirring. It's not that I think Kohli would be any lesser than you as a skipper, but the reputation you've garnered all these years has influenced us to another level.
Yes, you have just given up captaincy and might not be retiring anytime soon but this is going to take time to sink in. As Virat Kohli himself told, 'You'll always be my captain'. In whatever capacity you contribute to the team, I shall always remain the one to stand by you!
'Loved everywhere from Mumbai to Southampton,
World Cup won for which we waited years to happen,
Now u pass the baton,
O Captain, My Captain!'
From your die hard FAN!
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