“Dhoni finishes off in style. A magnificent strike into the crowd. India lift the World Cup after 28 years. The party’s started in the dressing room. And it’s an Indian captain, who’s been absolutely magnificent, in the night of the final.” These immortal words are etched into the memory of every Indian cricket fan forever. The legendary commentary forged in the words of Ravi Shastri, gives us but a glimpse of the place of Dhoni in the imagination of Indian public, and how high a pedestal he’s been given by the masses.
Born in Ranchi, part of erstwhile Bihar and now in Jharkhand, Dhoni forayed into sports as a young goalkeeper. However, one of his physical education teachers at school identified the possibilities in him as a wicketkeeper and pursued him to change the course of his career. And as we all know, the rest his history.
He started taking cricket seriously, and soon whispers started to flutter in the cricketing circles about a boy with an unorthodox technique subduing bowlers at will. In order to move to the next level, he started to work for the Indian Railways as a ticket collector, and joined the Railways Ranji team. It was here that he truly began to shine on a professional level, dishing out match-winning performances almost at will. His performances impressed the BCCI scouts enough, and he was included into the India A team for a tour to Kenya in 2004.
Solid knocks in alien conditions in Kenya furthered his cause and he was selected for the tour of Bangladesh in 2004. However, a duck in his first ever ODI followed by consecutive poor performances almost had him out of favour with the selectors. The then captain Sourav Ganguly, reposed his trust in Dhoni’s talents and gave him chance after chance to prove himself. Dhoni repaid the trust with ODI innings of 148 and 183 within a year of his debut, making him a sensation all over india. His leadership skills also didn’t go unnoticed as he was appointed the captain of the T20 team. Success followed as India won the first
ever T20 World Cup. ODI captaincy followed, with a year of which he was also made the Test captain.
Success followed his as Midas with whatever he touched turning into gold. Dhoni has been the recipient of many awards, including the ICC ODI Player of the Year award in 2008 and 2009 (the first player to win the award twice), the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award in 2007, the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour, in 2009 and the Padma Bhushan, India’s third highest civilian honour, in 2018. He was named as the captain of the ICC World Test XI in 2009, 2010 and 2013. He has also been selected a record 8 times in ICC World ODI XI teams, 5 times as captain. Dhoni also holds numerous captaincy records such as the most wins by an Indian captain in Tests, ODIs and T20Is, and most back-to-back wins by an Indian captain in ODIs. Under his captaincy, India won the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, the CB Series of 2007–08, the 2010 and 2016 Asia Cups, the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy. In the final of the 2011 World Cup, Dhoni scored 91 not out off 79 balls handing India the victory for which he was awarded the Man of the Match. In June 2013, when India defeated England in the final of the Champions Trophy in England, Dhoni became the first captain to win all three ICC limited-overs trophies (World Cup, Champions Trophy and the World Twenty20). After taking up the Test captaincy in 2008, he led the team to series wins in New Zealand and West Indies, and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2008, 2010 and 2013. In 2009, Dhoni also led the Indian team to number one position for the first time in the ICC Test rankings. In 2013, under his captaincy, India became the first team in more than 40 years to whitewash Australia in a Test series. In the Indian Premier League, he captained the Chennai Super Kings to victory at the 2010, 2011 and 2018 seasons
In 2011, Time magazine included Dhoni in its annual Time 100 list as one of the “Most Influential People in the World.” In 2012, SportsPro rated Dhoni as the sixteenth most marketable athlete in the world. In June 2015, Forbes ranked Dhoni at 23rd in the list of highest paid athletes in the world, estimating his earnings at US$31 million.In 2016, a biopic M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story was made about him.
Dhoni is among one of the best captains to have guided India throughout the years. Very few people can argue with that.
India has always produced batting talent in abundance, with its famed batting lineup a thing of envy for other nations. Where it has lacked is the production of good death-over bowlers. Specialists who can soak in the pressure and turn matches in India’s favour. Up until now that is. For, with the rise of Jasprit Bumrah, India has found itself a bowler adept with the art of Malinga-esque yorkers, a ball dreaded by the most seasoned of batsmen.