New Delhi: Remember in 2005, then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf had become a fan of Mahendra Singh Dhoni for his hairstyle. In fact, Musharraf was so much in awe of Dhoni’s hairstyle during the Pakistan tour of 2006, that he advised him to not get a haircut.
However, he did change his hairstyle, probably disappointing the former Pakistan President. But, what he has not changed over the years is his dedication and commitment towards the game of cricket.
Dhoni, who made his debut in 2004 against Bangladesh, has been a remarkable servant of the Indian cricket. Counted among India’s most successful captains, the 38-year-old has been a vital cog for Indian cricket in the last 15 years. Be it his brilliant glove work or his skillful batting, the Ranchi lad has contributed in every way possible for taking the Men in Blue to the pinnacle of the sport.
It should be remembered that Dhoni did not have the best of starts to his international career. He was run-out off his first ball against Bangladesh on December 23, 2004. However, this footballer-turned cricketer didn’t get disappointed. He rather worked hard on his game and made sure he becomes an integral part of the Indian cricket team in a time span of just two to three years.
The wicketkeeper batsman holds all the records which one can ask for as a captain of an international team. He is the only international captain to have won an ICC 50-over World Cup, T20 World Cup and Champions Trophy. He led Team India to the numero uno spot in ICC Rankings, both in Tests and in ODIs.
After Sachin Tendulkar, if there has been one man who has stopped the heartbeats of billions of Indians, it is Dhoni.
“Dhoni finishes off in style. A magnificent strike into the crowd! India lift the World Cup after 28 years!” this commentary by Ravi Shastri of Dhoni after the latter led India to a win in the final of the 2011 World Cup at the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai with a humongous six off Sri Lanka pacer Nuwan Kulasekara still reverberates in the ears of millions of Indians.
With that six, Dhoni had fulfilled the long-cherished dreams of Tendulkar, who had all the batting records to his name in international cricket expect his hands at the World Cup trophy.
The ‘Master Blaster’ had once said that Dhoni is probably the best captain he had played with. And this sentence from Tendulkar speaks volume of how much Dhoni has contributed not just to Indian cricket but the sport as a whole.
By no means can Dhoni be ever said as a conventional cricketer, especially batsman, who possesses the right technique which is a requisite at the international stage. He doesn’t caress the off drives or the leg glances but what he does is something which all batsmen dream about.
Despite of not looking pretty while batting, Dhoni — over the years — has made sure he scores runs for the team and wins India matches, which ultimately is the goal of any cricketer.
In the recent years, he has faced a lot of criticism for his batting. Questions have been raised on his approach to batting with some even suggesting that Dhoni is now an old warhorse.
However, like many great cricketers, Dhoni has never let his lips do the talking and has always answered his critics fittingly with the bat by scoring runs in bulk.
There have been moments on the cricket field where the ‘Captain Cool’ has lost his cool and swearing some cuss words — one can fondly remember him abusing his batting partner Manish Pandey during an ODI game. However, all this only proves that like every other person, he is a human being who has his weak moments. In this year’s edition of the Indian Premier League (IPL), Dhoni stormed from his dugout to confront the umpires after a no-ball call for a high full toss was reversed against Rajasthan Royals. The CSK skipper had to face sanction for his actions. But unlike many, these weak moments have been very few for Dhoni which is why he is counted among the “legends” of the game and “Captain Cool” to his teammates.
It is true that Dhoni has never followed textbook cricket but he has performed on the big stage by establishing his own brand of cricket, which has been highly effective not just for him but for Team India.
Dhoni’s importance in the Indian cricket set-up has been time and again highlighted by many, including the likes of current skipper Virat Kohli, who thinks that no one has contributed more to Indian cricket than Dhoni.
Speculations have been rife that Dhoni will retire after the ongoing World Cup in England and Wales. He himself is not sure whether he will do that. But one thing is sure — whenever he hangs his boots, it will be a day when entire India will have tears in its eyes, just like when Tendulkar drew curtains on his 24-year-old long career in Mumbai.
By Aakash Kumar