MS Dhoni Virat Kohli India
The woeful away form of India in Test match cricket has taken its toll on MS DhoniReuters

Those away losses finally took its toll on MS Dhoni, with the India skipper announcing his retirement, effective immediately, from Test match cricket.

Dhoni has had a difficult time of it in the five-day format, with India struggling to stay above water in series against South Africa, New Zealand, England and now Australia.

India lost the series 2-0 to Australia after drawing the third Test in Melbourne on Tuesday, and the wicketkeeper/batsman, with only the dead rubber in Sydney remaining, decided to call time on his career as a Test player.

Virat Kohli, who led India in the absence of the injured Dhoni in the first Test in Adelaide, will don the captain's hat again at the SCG for the fourth Test starting on 6 January, and what looks like the forseeable future.

"One of India's greatest Test captains under whose leadership India became the No 1 team in the Test Rankings -- MS Dhoni -- has decided to retire from Test cricket citing the strain of playing all formats of cricket," BCCI secretary Sanjay Patel said in a statement.

"MS Dhoni has chosen to retire from Test cricket with immediate effect in order to concentrate on ODI and T20 formats.

"BCCI while respecting the decision of MS Dhoni to retire from Test cricket, wishes to thank him for his enormous contribution to Test cricket and the laurels that he has brought to India.

"Virat Kohli will be the captain of the Indian Team for the Fourth and Final Test against Australia to be played in Sydney from the 6th of January 2015."

The decision comes on the back of four successive away Test series defeats in the past year or so to South Africa, New Zealand, England and Australia, where Dhoni's captaincy skills were brought into question.

Undoubtedly the aggressive batsman is a master of the captaincy arts when it comes to the shorter formats of the game, leading India to World titles in the T20 and 50-over formats, but when it has come to the Test matches, Dhoni has fallen short more often than not.

That aggressiveness and unpredictability that you associate with Dhoni in limted-over games, just turns into predictability and scratching-your-head-wondering-what-he-is-thinking in Tests, which has also played its part in India's poor away form of late.

The 2-0 series loss to Australia after just three matches of the four-Test series looks like having been the last straw, even of the grizzled veteran did not give away anything in the middle or during the presentation ceremony that followed.

India drew Australia in the third Test in Melbourne, with the home team unable to bowl their opponents out on Day 5 after setting an impossible target.

Fittingly, MS Dhoni was in the middle at the end of the match, staying strong with the bat alongside R Ashwin to ensure a draw, and nobody would have thought that was the last time we would see Dhoni in whites in international cricket.

Say what you may about his captaincy record in Tests, Dhoni will be a hard act to follow, and the thing which will work in the always-expressive Kohli's favour is that he is so different from the cool, calm and collected man from Ranchi -- if he will be better, only time will tell.

Dhoni will still be a familiar figure in international cricket, though, with the skipper very much the main man for India in ODI and T20 cricket -- for how long only Dhoni knows.

India are set to embark on their campaign to defend the World Cup title that they won so wonderfully, with Dhoni, himself, hitting those winning runs with a trademark six in Mumbai, starting with a triangular one-day international series with Australia and England.

That cannot-miss-it series will be followed by the big World Cup to be held in Australia and New Zealand starting from 14 February.