MS Dhoni: From a cipher to a bigwig
37 years ago, an ordinary boy on the common streets of Ranchi was born. Like most of the others, he was less interested in theory and common literacy subjects, stood there in his balcony that opened to a huge ground. Today, his cold face and brisk personality have made heads bow down to him while the nation carries itself defiantly on his shoulders.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, whose interest lied with football and badminton initially, was sent to fill in for the place of wicketkeeper in a local cricket club. It wasn’t luck but his sheer determination that moved his graph higher from that day onwards.
With his hard-hitting performances, he was able to debut in Ranji Trophy for Bihar cricket team in 1999. After a lot of hardships and struggle in Bihar cricket team, he finally put a step in the second tier of Indian cricket team and played a major role in defeating Pakistan’s team with half a century, followed by many centuries.
The then captain Sourav Ganguly, appreciated and commended Dhoni’s performance. Thus, resulting in being one of the 16 national players for the Indian cricket team in 2004. However, the huge climb had big and major setbacks too. The initial matches didn’t turn out as efficient to equalize with his dexterity. The Bangladesh series dropped his chart and put a doubt in the minds of the selectors.
Thereafter, a wild game was witnessed by Pakistan for securing a ravishing 148 in the ODI. With his extraordinary hitting style and valorous dispatch, MS Dhoni earned several records against teams such as Sri Lanka, West Indies and Pakistan. Soon, Mr Cool steal the position from Ricky Ponting of being the best ODI batsman in 2006 for a week.
In 2007, all eyes glued on him as the nation wanted to hold the World Cup once again after the stupendous win of 1983. But the team didn’t clear the group stage and was thrashed out after losing to Bangladesh. The loss was a professional and emotional setback for the entire team.
The players returned home in the dark like they had committed a severe crime, with police vans surrounding them towards their way to their respective homes. The ghosts of this loss still haunt many players, especially Dhoni, whose house was attacked by cricket fans who threw rocks after the big loss for his poor performance in the tournament. Subsequently, he was made the vice-captain in two series against South Africa and England.
T20 World Cup triumph
With the recent loss in the World Cup, there was little hope for India in ICC World Twenty20 trophy in South Africa lead by MS Dhoni. But the team outlasted the pessimist views, defeated Pakistan in the finals and steal the title of being the inaugural Twenty 20 champions.
Dhoni was praised for his wise decisions on the field for trusting the last over with Joginder Sharma whereas the experts would have picked Harbhajan Singh. His chain of winning had just begun and India got another successful leader after Sourav Ganguly.
Winning the World Cup and the Champions Trophy
Moving on to the next big event that changed the outlook of many followers who were upset after the defeat of 2007 World Cup. Wankhede Stadium roared only one word ‘India!’, chanted only one song ‘Vande Mataram’ after Mahendra Singh Dhoni launched his bat for the winning six.
One of his best decisions as a captain was to come on the field before Yuvraj Singh and handle the tense situation of 114 for three losses with a target of 275 to reach against the Sri Lankans.
After 28 years, the glory returned to India with the second World Cup title. The event was followed by 2013 Champions Trophy where England were carving their way up to the title and Captain Cool, trusting Ishant Sharma with the crucial overs, was able to dismiss the lead set batsmen. Thus, after winning another salient game, he was crowned as the only Indian captain to win all the major tournaments.
In his Test career as well, he was selected into the team in 2005 where he helped India win by a big margin against Sri Lanka. He followed it with a century against Pakistan in 2006 and two centuries against Sri Lanka which led to India gaining the top spot in the ICC Test Rankings in 2009 under his leadership. He retired from test cricket in 2015 during India’s tour of Australia.
Dhoni has many records under his name, which includes a maximum of 204 sixes as a captain of the team; a world-best 107 stumpings in 318 ODIs; most T20 matches won as a captain and hitting nine centuries from the No. 7 spot. Also, being one of the highest paid cricketers in the Indian Premier League, Dhoni has won the title three times for his team Chennai Super Kings and tasted the spot of runners-up four times.
This doesn’t end here, Dhoni is the second cricketer after the legend Sachin Tendulkar to be awarded Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 2007 for his outstanding performance in ICC World Twenty20. He was also awarded Padma Shri, the fourth-highest civilian award in 2009.
Recently, he walked the carpets of Rashtrapati Bhawan in his army uniform to be awarded the nation’s third highest civilian award - Padma Bhushan, by the honourable President of India, Mr Ram Nath Kovind. He is the second cricketer after Kapil Dev to be conferred to Padma Bhushan.
The low strata kid has earned more fame, professional spot and civilian post than he ever thought while walking on the streets of Ranchi. There he occupies the title of being one of the most successful captains in cricket in the world.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni retired from captaincy in 2017, passing the throne to Virat Kohli, leaving the fans in tears but like he always said, ‘It has always been about serving the nation’. So, without losing the cool like our former captain, the nation looks forward to another Mahi in the making, if any.
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