MS Dhoni resigned as the ODI and T20 captain on Wednesday

5 cricketers who owe their careers to MS Dhoni

Mahendra Singh Dhoni never ceases to surprise, on and off the pitch. Twenty-five months after sending the nation into a state of mourning – after he suddenly decided to quit Test cricket – India's most successful captain chose to step down as the ODI and T20 skipper as well.

The number of trophies he won for India, the number of almost-lost matches he turned on their heads, all aside. It is the revolution that the country needs to thank MSD the most. Dhoni played a significant role in completely transforming India's limited-overs cricket.

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He made unpopular calls and stuck by them, no matter the consequences. He played gambles nobody else would have. And the result? Three ICC trophies. Dhoni was a distinct captain. A distinct identity.

When he had to make the most of the limited resources at his disposal, Dhoni was unparalleled. He made sure the newcomers got enough opportunities and recognition amid the clamour for the beloved stars.

Here are five current Indian cricketers who would not have cemented a place in the Indian National Team if not for MS Dhoni.

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#5 Rohit Sharma

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Before 2013, Rohit Sharma's ODI stats read very poorly

The year 2013 stands witness to the glorious transformation story of India opener Rohit Sharma. In ODIs, before 2013, Rohit averaged 30.43 per innings. Towards the end of 2013, Rohit Sharma was the second-highest run-scorer in the world in that calendar year. He turned into a one-day monster, literally.

At the start of 2013, Rohit, after a long period of slump, got another shot at opening the batting, and that opportunity completely changed his ODI batting numbers. From an under-performing player who was continually confounding critics with his inconsistency, the Mumbai batsman transformed into a remarkably prolific batsman.

And the mastermind Dhoni played a role in that. It needed a man of Dhoni's character to silently back Rohit even after a string of poor performances. The 29-year-old was asked to open the innings in January 2013 against England in Mohali in which he smashed 83 off 93 balls.

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And this, right after a disastrous trip to Sri Lanka where he managed only 13 runs in five games. Sharma further justified Dhoni's faith in him with his scores in the Champions Trophy in the same year. Since then, apart from a recent slump in 2016, Sharma hasn't looked back.

#4 Ravindra Jadeja

Dhoni hails Jadeja as one of the finest all-rounders

A similar story can be told of Ravindra Jadeja. Think back to 2013. In ODIs, before 2013, Jadeja averaged 38.42 with the ball. But that year, in 2013, he went onto become the leading wicket-taker in ODIs.

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It all started during the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2013, after which his confidence sky-rocketed. Jadeja wasn't new to the team, but after being on the side in shorter formats of the game for the last few years, this time around, he seemed to have finally found his niche.

Finishing with 24 wickets in the series and valuable chip-ins with the bat, the Gujarat warrior proved himself as a bowling all-rounder, shedding the burden of expectations of making big scores. The Indian captain nurtured a domestic cricketer into an international player.

#3 Ravichandran Ashwin

Dhoni has continuously backed Ashwin throughout his career

Despite representing Tamil Nadu at the Ranji Trophy for many years, Ashwin came to the spotlight only after his performances for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL in 2010, where MSD was the captain. After his breathtaking performance in the tournament, he made his debut for the Indian ODI team and later earned his Test debut the very next year.

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His performances in the subcontinents made way for many victories, but that would not have been possible without Dhoni's constant support and backing.

Ashwin proved to be less effective in countries like Australia and England, where he was given a run for his money. Every time that pressure piled upon him to deliver, he was backed by Dhoni and bounced back with compelling performances.

#2 Suresh Raina

Peas in a pod – Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni

Raina's relationship with former captain MS Dhoni has always been viewed cynically, with the captain being said to favour the left-handed batsman.

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When Dhoni did not play a couple of series, Raina was made the captain. It was him who, initially, was given a chance at No. 3 a few times but couldn't cement his spot.

Dhoni was once quoted as saying, “He's (Raina) the best that we have got and we need to back him. Because if we don’t back him, the new guy who comes in will say: ‘I don’t want to play shots. I’ll make 25 runs and go home not out’.”

And Raina, too, always comes out in praise of Dhoni. After becoming the captain of Gujarat Lions, Raina confessed, "I have learned a lot from Dhoni. I keep talking to him and asking him questions in the field, standing at slip or point as to what he is thinking and why he made a particular move. He is so calm under pressure, and he is one of the most dangerous batsmen in the world."

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#1 Virat Kohli

Virat Kohli matured under Dhoni's captaincy

Not just in limited-overs cricket, but in the longer format too, Virat Kohli owes credit to Dhoni for his success.

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Number 3 batsman Virat Kohli had an impressive start to his limited-overs career but appeared wobbly in Test matches. After he failed to get enough runs in Australia (2011-12), several voices were questioning his technique and temperament. But Dhoni knew the talent that Kohli was. The Delhi-born batsman got a fifty in the third Test and a ton in the next match in Adelaide.

"The selectors were keen to have Rohit Sharma play instead of Virat Kohli at Perth in 2012. I was the vice-captain while MS Dhoni was leading the team. We decided to go with Kohli, and the rest is history," former Indian opener Virender Sehwag once revealed.

Since then, the current Test captain did not look back and continued to amass runs in Test format too.

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