“Dhoniiiiiiii….finishes off in style….a magnificent strike in to the crowd…India lift the Worldcup after 28 years…the party starts in the dressing room…and its the Indian captain who has been absolutely magnificent in the night of the final”.
No Indian can forget these words which echoed throughout the country on 2nd April 2011 and continue to do so whenever we think of that day.“The history of the world,” wrote Thomas Carlyle, “is but the biography of great men.” Carlyle held that history is determined by the actions of a handful of heroes. And if his ideas have been discredited since, in sport, at least, they’ve still some truth to them. Mahendra Singh Dhoni was and is such Hero to 125 crore Indians and their Religion, that is Cricket. He may not be the next Sachin Tendulkar , but he surely was the only one who came close.
In a nation that is obsessed with being centre-stage, I am not sure he ever sought it. Remember the long-haired new captain who had just won India the first World T20? He had given away his match shirt to someone in the crowd and was walking away quietly. The more mature captain who had won India the World Cup of 2011? Spot him in any of the pictures? He let it be Sachin Tendulkar’s moment. He let it be about Indian cricket. It wasn’t about him and he didn’t force himself into every frame. It was, actually, his evening but he looked at it from afar.
I thought it was cool. The sign of a confident man. He made a statement by not being there. I don’t know if that is cool today but he rose in my eyes.
Dhoni was not only a calm captain himself, he was the cause for calmness in others.
He smiled, he showed displeasure, he chatted to bowlers, but while his immediate message was clear, no one could bet on what his thinking was.
Dhoni read the one-day game better than he did Test cricket, and was India’s finest captain in the shorter formats.
He could experiment, even gamble, trusting his finely honed sense of time and place to bring him success. What people also forget is about MSD’s wicketkeeping skills, they are as good as Ronaldo’s flicks and Messi’s tricks.He perhaps is one of the finest we have seen if not THE best of all time when it comes to being behind the wickets.
He led India to victory in three tournaments – World Twenty20 (2007), World Cup (2011) and Champions Trophy (2013) – so the record matched his reputation
When he handed the ball to rookie Joginder Sharma in the final of the inaugural World T20 a decade ago, there might have been a collective gasp around the country.
Yet Sharma claimed the last Pakistan wicket, and as an unintended consequence, the face of cricket was changed forever. The IPL was born, as India, Twenty20 deniers became Twenty20 obsessed.
Dhoni’s place in history is assured, and not just as a player and captain.He was leader of a talented group of players which emerged from non-traditional areas.Dhoni’s arrival was a testimony to the reach of televised cricket.
The legacy Dhoni bestowed upon Virat Kohli is a team secure in its skin, certain it can win from any position. There was no better captain in the game’s shorter forms than Dhoni during his time. He is the only skipper to have won all three major trophies — the World Cup, the World Twenty20 and the Champions Trophy. Michael Clarke and Brendon McCullum had greater attacking verve. They were certainly superior Test captains. But in the art of managing a finite innings, reading a contest’s rhythm and its tactics, Dhoni had no equal. He had an intuitive feel for what could happen and the ability to get the best out of his resources, however bare( I always felt he can achieve great things if he enters Politics). His greatest strength was his nerve. Where others tried to finish things quickly to pre-empt panicking, he took games deep. He raised the stakes, knowing he would not blink before his opponent. Remarkably, he managed to transmit this sense of composure to his team. He asked his bowlers to relax and stick to the plan; the responsibility of the result was his to bear. Few cricketers have stayed in the present as successfully as he has. Fortunately for Indian cricket, his successor is every bit as impressive. Kohli, moreover, will have access, should he choose, to all of Dhoni’s considerable powers.
What Dhoni achieved though, goes way beyond the numbers he produced. He told young Indians in small towns that they could conquer the world. To them he was the beacon, he was the dream that maybe they could achieve too. He showed the way. It is a substantial, and wonderful, thing in life to do.
“I don’t think anyone knew Mahendra Singh Dhoni. I don’t think anyone was meant to.”-Harsha Bhogle