4 decisions MS Dhoni took in 2007 T20 World Cup that cemented his legacy as Team India captain

MS Dhoni with ICC T20 World Cup trophy
MS Dhoni with ICC T20 World Cup trophy

When the inaugural T20 World Cup was held in South Africa in 2007, MS Dhoni was selected as the captain of a young Indian team.

Moreover, India had just played a solitary T20I before the event and senior pros Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly decided to pull out of the tournament. Pressure was immense on the team as India exited the ODI World Cup from the group stages in shocking fashion earlier that year.

However, MS Dhoni laid a strong foundation for a dominant decade that Team India were about to enter. Seniors like Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Gautam Gambhir and Virender Sehwag stepped up at different stages of the T20 World Cup, with Dhoni backing youngsters such as Piyush Chawla and RP Singh as India overcame the odds en route to ultimate glory.

On that note, let's revisit some of the biggest decisions taken by MS Dhoni in the 2007 T20 World Cup that established his legacy as a great captain.

#1 Bowl-out against Pakistan

The very first completed match against arch-rivals Pakistan was a closely fought encounter that ended in a tie. While Pakistan went for their regular bowlers in the bowl-out, MS Dhoni chose the slower bowlers in Virender Sehwag, Harbhajan Singh and Robin Uthappa to take the chance.

Dhoni stood close to the stumps and oversaw his bowlers hitting the target as India won the bowl-out by a 3-0 margin. This was one of the first unique yet effective decisions he made as Team India captain.

#2 Knocking South Africa out of the T20 World Cup

In a must-win game, Team India batted first and managed to post just 153 runs against South Africa at Kingsmead, with Rohit Sharma and MS Dhoni making valuable contributions.

South Africa needed just 126 runs to qualify for the semi-finals, but Dhoni used pacers RP Singh and S Sreesanth superbly, restricting the Proteas to just 116 and knocking them out of the tournament. Dhoni and his boys didn't feel overwhelmed by the power hitters in the South African batting line-up. Moreover, South Africa were playing in home conditions.

#3 Conquering Australia

The 2007 T20 World Cup semi-final against ODI world champions Australia was always going to be a heated encounter. The Aussies dominated most parts of the match, excluding Yuvraj Singh's sensational 30-ball 70 and supporting knocks by Dhoni and Uthappa.

Australia came out all guns blazing during the run chase and Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds looked in the mood to finish the game early.

But some smart bowling changes by Dhoni ensured that India stayed in the game and eventually knocked the Aussies out of the tournament. This was the first glimpse of 'Captain Cool' Dhoni and his poker face during pressure situations.

#4 MS Dhoni's masterstroke in the final

The India-Pakistan final in Johannesburg was everything that the shortest format needed to bring a revolution in cricket. Virender Sehwag was injured and MS Dhoni and the Indian team management decided to surprise Pakistan by playing a debutant in Yusuf Pathan.

Gautam Gambhir batted magnificently to take India to 157 and the Indian bowlers left Pakistan reeling at 77/6 at one stage. However, Misbah-ul-Haq stood between India and World Cup glory as he single-handedly took his team closer to the target by smashing Harbhajan Singh all over the park.

With 13 runs to defend in the last over, Dhoni had the option of going back to his lead spinner. Instead, he threw the ball to Joginder Sharma, who was playing his first major tournament for India.

Misbah got the equation down to just six runs needed off four balls as Pakistan looked set for a historic win. But Misbah then played the scoop shot and Dhoni had Sreesanth positioned exactly where the ball went.

India won the first-ever T20 World Cup and scripted a new era in sports history. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the captain, was born.

Edited by Samya Majumdar
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