By leading India to victory over Alastair Cook's England in the second Test at Lord's, MS Dhoni captured just his sixth Test triumph away from home as captain.
Against a nose-diving home side, that stunning victory to give India a 1-0 series lead has suddenly presented Dhoni with an opportunity to claim his most elusive prize: A major Test series victory outside of Indian borders.
While the current skipper has led his team to series wins in Bangladesh, New Zealand and the West Indies, visits to England, Australia and South Africa have dealt heavy losses to Dhoni's India, severely hurting the perception of his skills as a leader and ability to disrupt the expected narrative.
In Britain this time around, however, the Indian captain looks capable of steering his youthful side to a famous triumph, which—should it occur—would begin to address the vastly unbalanced record of Dhoni's Test captaincy.
|MS Dhoni's Test Record As India Captain|
Interestingly, India's victory at Lord's now means Dhoni has secured Test victories in all but one of the nations he's visited as captain, with Australia now standing as the only country to have consistently denied the polarising leader.
However, based on his record, capturing the Pataudi Trophy in England this summer will still prove to be a stern test for Dhoni despite the home side's lurch toward a crisis, given that he's never won more than a single Test in any country outside India.
|MS Dhoni's Captaincy Record Away From Home By Country|
|in New Zealand||4||1||2||1||25%|
|in South Africa||5||1||2||2||20%|
|in Sri Lanka||3||1||1||1||33%|
|in West Indies||3||1||2||0||33%|
Of course, the most criticised aspect of Dhoni's tenure has been the humiliations India have received under the current captain during visits to England and Australia.
In his last visit to English shores in 2011, Dhoni's men arrived with big reputations but were handed a truly horrific annihilation by Andrew Strauss' side, losing the series in a 4-0 whitewash that contained two innings defeats and another pair of losses by 319 and 196 runs.
That disastrous trip was followed by an equally forgettable tour of Australia in 2011-12.
Enduring the difficulties of a transitional period and arriving horribly underprepared, Michael Clarke's side inflicted similar damage, handing Dhoni a pair of innings defeats and another loss by 122 runs (Dhoni missed the fourth Test in Adelaide after being suspended for a slow over rate in Perth).
Such trips have had a profound effect on India's statistical record away from home under Dhoni, resulting in a set of numbers that highlight the extremely contrasting performance of India at home and on tour.
|India Records Under MS Dhoni|
|Highest Total For||726/9d||707|
|Highest Total Against||760/7d||710/7d|
|Lowest Total For||142||136|
|Lowest Total Against||159||105|
|Average 1st Innings Total For||447||324|
|Average 1st Innings Total Against||346||383|
|Average Wickets Per Match For||17.57||14.8|
|Average Wickets Per Match Against||13.30||17.36|
|Average Runs Per Wicket For||44.64||32.79|
|Average Runs Per Wicket Against||31.00||40.17|
Yet, perhaps much of the criticism of Dhoni's captaincy—particularly his work away from home—can be attributed to higher-than-ever expectations for India's Test team.
Given the BCCI's financial dominance of the game and the immense resources available to Indian cricket, Dhoni has been expected to deliver unrelenting success in a way that many of his predecessors have not.
Additionally, the capture of the 2007 World Twenty20, the No. 1 Test ranking in 2009, the 2011 World Cup and the 2013 Champions Trophy has seen the current skipper steer India through one of the nation's most successful periods, only further heightening the realm of possibilities for Dhoni's leadership.
Thus, the captain's failures away from home have become more notable due to his own success—a point which is reinforced by his Test record outside India among his nation's notable captains throughout history.
|India's Test Record Away From Home Under Notable Captains|
|Nawab of Pataudi||13||3||0||10||23%|
As shown in the table above, only Sourav Ganguly has claimed more Test victories away from home as India's captain, while only Ganguly and Rahul Dravid have captured their victories at a better rate than Dhoni.
However, perhaps also hurting the perception of the current leader is his record with the bat away from home as captain.
As an unorthodox and self-taught keeper-batsman, Dhoni has been unable to lead through his own personal example in the way those before him have.
Whereas Ganguly (Test average of 43.41 away from home as Indian captain), Dravid (46.88) and Sachin Tendulkar (54.90) were able to dictate Tests through their own personal performance, Dhoni's success as skipper has hinged upon the excellence of others, coupled with his own leadership in the field when behind the stumps.
|MS Dhoni's Test Batting Record As Captain|
Currently 1-0 up with three Tests still to play against England, however, Dhoni has the chance to deliver his nation's first series victory away from home over one of cricket's powerhouses in seven years.
If he's able to do so, his captaincy record will take on a whole new complexion.
All statistics courtesy of ESPN Cricinfo.