MS Dhoni: From a butcher to a surgeon
He came, he saw, he conquered and he walked away. If life was metaphorical, this is how the career of MS Dhoni might well be summed up once he hangs up his boots.
But trust me, that day might not be anywhere near at the moment.
There has been a lot of talk about Dhoni’s role in this current Indian one-day setup leading up to the 2019 World Cup in England. With quite a few voices being raised against his case in the team. However, I feel he has been successful in putting most of those questions to rest with his performances this year.
He has the cricketing brain that has made him reinvent himself.
Let’s first rewind to the emergence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni onto the international scene in 2004 and how he graduated into becoming one of the best ever limited overs player for India.
An extremely talented, raw and slightly unorthodox young cricketer burst onto the scene in 2004.
He was a brute force.There was no defence in his gameplay, only demolition. MS could deposit the ball into the stands with utmost ease.
The inevitable happened sooner than expected. The young wicket-keeper batsman from Ranchi stunned the world with a breathtaking knock of 148 against Pakistan followed by 183 vs Sri Lanka.
It turned heads.
It was one of the few times the cricketing world had witnessed a batsman instilling unimaginable fear in the minds of world-class bowlers around the world so early in his career. MS Dhoni became the quickest ever batsman to climb to the top spot in the ICC rankings.
The force continued, from Mumbai to Adelaide. From the Eden Gardens to Kensington Oval. Dhoni had already conquered the world with his stroke play and genius. He was gifted.
You might not see him playing the perfect cover drive of a Sachin Tendulkar or the backfoot punch of Ricky Ponting. But what Ms. Dhoni could do on a cricket field left even the most reputed batsman in the world wondering and in awe.
Cut to 2007, it saw the emergence of Ms. Dhoni the leader. It was the first ever World Cup of a brand new 'bang bang' cricket format - the T20. MS guided a very young Indian side to triumph at Johannesburg. The world was now witnessing a new genius in the man.
Through 2007-2011 Dhoni guided his team to numerous victories with scintillating performances coming off his own willow along the way.
However, it was April 2, 2011, the biggest night of his career. The world started believing him to be the best Indian captain ever. MS Dhoni played one of the most exceptional one-day knocks to guide Team India on to the podium where they lifted the most coveted trophy at the Wankhede stadium after a long wait of 28 years. The ICC World Cup.
Dhoni and his team went on to conquer more uncharted territory, whether the Champions Trophy for India or multiple championship wins for his IPL franchise the Chennai Super Kings. MSD had achieved what a very few had before.
The man was elevated to the next level. That of a demi-god.
And then, the inevitable which every professional sportsperson has to go through. MS Dhoni was hit by a decline in form and rarity in match-winning performances after the 2015 world cup. The whispers and hushed talks had begun around cricketing circles.
Is MS Dhoni done?
That is when his wicket-keeping skills came to the fore.
It took his dip in batting form for people to realize how good he was with the gloves. It is safe to say his wicket-keeping abilities gave him the extra cushion to buy time to rediscover his batting.
MS Dhoni started slowing down, the run rate dropped and the finisher he was known for was getting lost somewhere in the shadows of his old self.
This is when he voluntarily started playing the second fiddle to the more explosive young batsman in the team. It is proof of the lack of ego in the man.
He scratched his way through 2016.
But come 2017 and he has, again, redefined his position in the team. He averages 60 this year. He is currently the glue in the team that holds the batting lineup together. Around him, all the incoming power hitters feel secure to go and play their natural game.
He is still the best wicket keeper batsman in the country. He knows how to pace an innings. When he is at the crease, one can be assured of safety and solidity at one end.
Having said that, his hitting abilities are still intact. Once he gets his eye in, he can take apart any attack and skyrocket his and the team's strike rate in the death overs of the innings. Also, he is arguably the quickest between wickets in the Indian team.
More importantly, with one of the best cricketing heads on his shoulders, MS is the perfect mentor for a relatively new skipper in Virat Kohli.
The former Indian captain with his experience and class may well be the X-factor for India on their World Cup campaign during the English summer of 2019.
This firecracker still has one more explosion left in it.
Just wait for the big bang.