'MS Dhoni was the name of an era' - Shoaib Akhtar

Shoaib Akhtar and MS Dhoni had many a battle on the cricket field
Shoaib Akhtar and MS Dhoni had many a battle on the cricket field
Kartik Iyer
Modified 16 Aug 2020

Former Pakistan speedster Shoaib Akhtar has mentioned that MS Dhoni was the name of an era, considering the achievements of the former Indian captain. He credited Captain Cool for making India a major cricketing force.

With MS Dhoni having announced his retirement from international cricket, Shoaib Akhtar paid tribute to the great man on his YouTube channel.

Akhtar labelled MS Dhoni as one of the nicest but most competitive guys that he had come across.

"He was a match-winner, match-finisher, a great captain and a humble guy. God knows how many qualities he has. But one of the nicest guys and competitive cricketers that I came across."

The Rawalpindi Express mentioned that he was hoping MS Dhoni would get a grand farewell, while adding that playing for the country would have been the latter's biggest dream and that he got to captain the team as well.

"I had full belief that he will get a great farewell and he will be felicitated. It's not that he wants to be awarded, I think playing for India was his biggest dream. His dream got fulfilled and he captained the team."

Shoaib Akhtar recalled India's tour to Pakistan in 2004 post which MS Dhoni had got his hair cut, disregarding President Musharraf's advice not to do so.

"In 2004-05 when he came to Pakistan, President Musharraf praised his hair a lot and he told in front of everyone in the President House that he liked MS Dhoni a lot. He had asked Dhoni not to cut his hair and he immediately got his hair cut."

The 45-year-old disclosed that the enthusiastic biker wanted to go for a motorcycle ride with him, but it couldn't be done because of the pacer's tight schedule.

"When he came here in 2004, he was a young guy who loved his motorbikes. He wanted to go out with me for a motorcycle ride, but I couldn't go out. So I told him sorry as shooting was going on and matches were also taking place."

Shoaib Akhtar also talked about the incident where he had intentionally bowled a beamer at MS Dhoni, having been frustrated at the thrashing he had received from the blade of the dashing Indian batsman.

"I remember an incident in Faisalabad, where I had full belief that I was bowling well and will be able to dismiss the batsmen, but this guy comes in on this very flat track of Faisalabad where he thrashed me all over. He hit me and hammered me all over the place and I didn't know what to do."

Akhtar recalled having dismissed Sachin Tendulkar in that innings but not being able to stop the flow of runs from the wicket-keeper-batsman's willow.

"The wicket was flat and I had bowled a lot of bouncers, I had already dismissed Sachin, but he was not coming in my control. So unfortunately, for which I have already apologised before, I had to bowl a beamer so that he backs off, but no."

He lauded MS Dhoni's bravery for standing up to the fiercest of fast bowlers and not being afraid of getting injured.

"I have seen that he is a very strong-hearted person, he doesn't care who is bowling. He believed on what he had to do. The way he stood up against me and many other fast bowlers in the world, he didn't care one bit that he might get hit. He just went out there to finish the games."

Shoaib Akhtar on MS Dhoni as a finisher

MS Dhoni is regarded as one of the greatest finishers the game of cricket has seen
MS Dhoni is regarded as one of the greatest finishers the game of cricket has seen

Shoaib Akhtar labelled MS Dhoni as a great finisher who had a great understanding of the game and knew how to take the team along.

"He was a great finisher. Because I felt the strength he had, in his wrists, including the helicopter shot and the cricket sense, I feel that was the most amazing. He made a difference to other cricketers. You see the sharpness of his keeping and batting and the respect God gave him."

He called MS Dhoni finishing the World Cup final with a six at home in Wankhede as a fairy tale ending.

"Such a stage cannot be set for any other captain, in 2011 at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai with India playing the final and leading the side and to win the match with a six and bag the trophy. This is a story of dreams."

While crediting Gautam Gambhir for setting the tone of the innings, Akhtar praised MS Dhoni for closing out the chase, that too with a majestic six.

"Though Gautam Gambhir had setup that match with Dhoni being a star of that game. I still feel Gautam Gambhir had set the tone for the final. But what fun Dhoni would have had that night, hitting a six to win the World Cup in Mumbai. India thrived under the leadership of Dhoni."

Shoaib Akhtar called MS Dhoni as a great player across formats, terming him as the best finisher in ODI cricket.

"Dhoni was a big player of all formats, there has not been a bigger finisher than him in ODIs. He could have played a big part in Test matches but he chose not to, I don't know why."

The express pace bowler lauded Sourav Ganguly for building the team and instilling the fighting spirit in them, something MS Dhoni capitalised on to the fullest.

"If Sourav Ganguly had built the team, MS Dhoni capitalised on it very well. After 2000 I had felt that India did not have the life, but Sourav Ganguly put that life in. He was a very great captain, finest in the world. If he had better bowlers then his record would have been different."

Shoaib Akhtar acknowledged that the Indian team under MS Dhoni dominated world cricket, winning the tri-series in Australia and capping it off with the World Cup win at home.

"But Sourav built the team and the final team that went to Dhoni, they thrashed the whole world. They won big series including in Australia, then World Cup, the highest point of his life and that too at home. So, it was a dream run till 2011."

Akhtar added that MS Dhoni is worthy of all the appreciation he has received from across the world as he is a special person.

"I used to feel happy that God had given someone so much, so he must be a special person and he defintely was and is special. He is a very humble, down-to-earth guy who doesn't hesitate to praise others and never thinks of harming anyone. He deserves all the glory. He deserves all the credit and adulation from us and everyone around the world."

Shoaib Akhtar mentioned that based on his experiences of having worked in India, the BCCI might still be planning to organise a farewell match for MS Dhoni even though the latter has announced his retirement.

"As much as I know India, they respect their stars a lot and does a lot of brand building and I have learnt while working in India that they love their stars a lot."
"It could be a scenario that, even though he is retired, he could be asked to play an international match whenever it is possible so that he could be given a send off. Because such a big player going out like this is not good. I have full belief that India might be thinking on those lines and will do like that and he will be given a send off with great respect."

Shoaib Akhtar signed off by calling MS Dhoni as the name of an era while reiterating his call for a grand farewell match for the Indian cricketing great.

"I feel MS Dhoni was the name of an era, a name of brand building and I felt so happy that God gave him so much at a young age."
"This was MS Dhoni for you in my eyes. I think he deserves all the credit now and deserves a grand farewell in front of a full house with all his near and dear ones called."

MS Dhoni amassed 10773 runs in the 350 ODI matches he played for India, at an excellent average of 50.57. In matches against Pakistan, with Shoaib Akhtar in the opposition ranks, the former Indian skipper scored 217 runs in 5 encounters at an exceptional average of 54.25.

Published 16 Aug 2020
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