A star in the making
It was a nerve-wrecking day which boiled down to a nerve-wrecking final over. Experiencing for myself, for the first time what pressure in cricket was like. Everyone’s eyes fixated on what was yet to come, burning with adrenaline from the inside. As for the Indian team captain, he was as cool as a cucumber, bold in his decision to employ a simply inexperienced bowler in the final make or break over against Pakistan, our bitter foe. Dhoni’s decision ultimately paid off and it made me believe that this would surely be the start of something new.
Chance always has a say in every matter, no less in Dhoni’s case when his football coach sent the young lad to fill in as wicketkeeper, in the Commando Cricket Club, which saw him seal that spot for three consecutive years during 1995-98. Imagine if young Mahindra did pledge his allegiance to football instead of cricket. What would we have missed out on? Let's take a look at some game-changing moments influenced by none other than captain cool himself.
1. 2007 T20 World Cup Final
6 runs required from 4 balls, and our skipper as usual had a meticulous strategy in mind. The ball leapt high in the air with the whole nation gasping for breath, uncertain as to where it was going to fall. As it descended, a billion hearts skipped a beat, but to our amazement, a fielder by the name of Sreesanth was miraculously placed underneath it. In a flash, the nation bloomed with delight, as the colour blue took over that exuberant night in Johannesburg.
Although this was purely a team effort, there existed one man who played a pivotal role despite not being efficient with the bat. It was Mahindra Singh Dhoni who paved the way for the blue tigers. In an interview Sreesanth told Republic, “I am proud of what I did there and I am thankful to our captain for making me stand at short fine-leg.”
2. 2011 World Cup Final
India finally broke an agonising 28 years of pain on 2nd April, 2011 when they outclassed their neighbours Sri Lanka in the final of the World Cup. Dhoni launching Kulasekara over wide long on for a six to seal the win will forever be glued in the minds of billions of Indian fans. India went on to become the First Nation to win the World Cup as hosts.
9 years after that infamous win, Gary Kirsten who was the head coach of the Indian team, attributed one major factor among the many that led to their victory. It revolved around the promotion of Dhoni in the batting order from No.6 to No.5. Sachin and Sehwag booked themselves as early departures to Malinga, which then made Gambhir and Kohli carry the tricolour. However, after Kohli’s dismissal, Sachin insinuated the necessity of keeping the right-hand, left-hand combination going, and that did wonders as Dhoni amassed an unbeaten 91 runs.
3. 2013 Champions Trophy
India had the perfect record under Dhoni, heading into the 2013 final against hosts England. As usual, rain played spoilsport, partly disrupting the excitement that the game had to offer. Unfortunately the skipper succumbed to getting no runs on the board with the bat on that day.
On the other hand Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara reeled England back into the game. A problem for which an immediate answer was needed. Knowing Dhoni and his pin-point intuition, he turned to Ishant Sharma, despite proving expensive in the genesis of the game. Sharma delivered for his captain, thereby extending Dhoni’s accumulation of silverware. Dhoni is the only captain to win all three ICC trophies: T20 World Cup (07), ODI World Cup (2011), Champions Trophy (2013). Cricketing comarade Gautam Gambhir said, ''One record that will never be broken is Dhoni’s three ICC trophies.''
4. Double Test Century
Talking about records, Dhoni is also the only wicket-keeper batsmen to score a Test double century in a day. Well versed with his surroundings at the M.A Chidambaram stadium, Chennai, Dhoni secured a whopping 224 against Australia in 2013. It took an extraordinary innings from the captain to bat the Aussies out of the match.
He managed to stitch a 140-run partnership with Kumar who was batting at no.10. It gave the blue tigers momentum to go on and win the series 4-0. All this manifested, despite people questioning Dhoni's place in the test side. It goes to show that the man from Ranchi can just never be ruled out.
5. Race to the bails
The pressure was on, many to be found on the edge of their seats as our Bangladeshi neighbours needed 2 runs from 1 ball to secure a win. Hardik Pandya bowled a fantastic delivery with the ball clutched safely in Dhoni’s glove. Showing quick reflexes and lightening speed, Dhoni made a dash towards the stumps and slit a knife through whatever hopes the Bangladeshi’s had of progressing in the tournament.
With the Bangladeshi's being unable to drag the game into the super over, who knew it would have all boiled down to Dhoni competing with Mustafizur Rahman in a foot race. There were rumours that circulated thereafter, that it was the 6 glasses of milk that Dhoni drank on a daily basis that helped him outrun his opponent.
A committed servant to the nation
Respected now not only as a cricketer, but as a husband, and father to the nation, Dhoni has inspired millions of cricket fanatics to dream on. He received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, the highest honour given in India for achievement in sports.
Many can learn in detail about the legend himself in a biopic that was released in 2016, called ‘M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story’. Coming from nothing, he paints a beautiful picture of how a man can achieve so much and yet be so humble. We should all aspire to ape 'Captain Cool' in our conquest of being successful. More so that instead of being positioned in front of a goal, he was positioned behind the stumps. Dhoni surely picked the right gloves.
Let us know which was your favourite moment in Dhoni's International career in the comment section below.