It’s the end of an era. The passing of the baton. The end of Team India being led by arguably it’s most iconic of captains. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has stepped down from his post of being the leader of the Men in Blue and with it ends one of the most glorious chapters of Indian cricket.
In 2007 a 26-year-old revolutionized Indian cricket.
A team, shattered by the humiliation of exiting the ICC ODI World Cup 2007 in the first round. A fan base starved of world titles and craving for glory.
In stepped MS Dhoni with a bagful of new ideas, a cavalier attitude and he soon along with his gang of young warriors rewrote the history books.
The 2007 ICC World T20 title galvanized Indian cricket and the man at the helm of it was Dhoni.
He soon took over the ODI captaincy from Rahul Dravid and went on to end the nation’s 28-year wait for the 50-over World Cup title.
He then led Team India to the Champions Trophy triumph in 2013 thus becoming the only captain in the world to win three ICC titles – the ODI World Cup, Champions Trophy and World T20.
Dhoni’s risky business
Dhoni captained India in 199 ODIs and 72 T20Is. Like his helicopter shot, there is certain uniqueness in Dhoni’s captaincy style.
His ability to stay calm in the most intense of situations gave him the title of ‘Captain Cool’. But it’s the sheer bravery to take grave risks time and again is something that is not spoken about enough.
Like his batting, Dhoni, with his captaincy, has the ability to spring a surprise when least expected. Who else other than Dhoni would have thought of handing the ball to Joginder Sharma in the final over the 2007 T20 World Cup against Pakistan?
The high voltage clash had everyone on the edge of their seats and more than a few eyebrows were raised when Dhoni handed the ball to Joginder. But what a masterstroke it proved to be later. There are so many such decisions that Dhoni has made over the years as captain that were against the norm and he has come out trumps time and again.
Perfect role model
Sourav Ganguly started the trend of backing youngsters and giving them a chance to make a mark on the international stage. The likes of Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, and Zaheer Khan all got a chance under Ganguly. But Dhoni went a step further.
With Dhoni at the helm, the team underwent a massive transition and that was seen when most of the senior players backed out of playing the inaugural T20 World Cup. In came the likes of Rohit Sharma and ushered in a new era for Indian cricket.
Dhoni not just got the business done but went about it in a manner that gave you no other option but to admire him. Unruffled, humble and never one to start a spat with the opposition players, Dhoni is the perfect gentleman, a great ambassador for the sport.
But one thing that shone through was his willingness to take a back seat and let his teammates hog the limelight. Even in post-match presentations after a series win or ICC tournament triumphs, Dhoni would take a sort of a back seat.
Dhoni was India’s most successful captain, leading the team to numerous titles over the years. He captained India in 199 ODIs, of which he won 110 and lost 74. He was captain in 72 T20Is, of which India won 41 and lost 28.
Dhoni is also the only captain to have led India to ODI and T20I series wins in Australia, and an ODI series win in New Zealand.
The man from Ranchi made 6,633 ODI runs as captain at an average of 54 and a strike rate of 86. As captain in T20Is, Dhoni scored 1,112 runs at a strike rate of 122.60.
These are not just numbers, this is Dhoni’s legacy and there never will be another Mahendra Singh Dhoni in Indian cricket.