There will always be a Captain called Dhoni
Forget the layman, even those who shared the dressing room with MS Dhoni didn’t have the slightest of hint about the decision Captain Cool had in his mind. Cricketing world suffered a jolt as MS Dhoni stepped down as India cricket team captain from the limited-overs format. Dhoni was not only a calm captain himself, but also he was the cause for calmness in others. He smiled, he showed displeasure, he chatted to the bowlers, but while his message was clear, no one could bet on what his thinking was. Not for him the romance and layered philosophy of the game; he was simple without being simplistic, straight forward without being naive, and knows his mind best. These qualities served him well as captain, they serve him well as a person.
MS Dhoni’s cool and composed demeanor worked wonders for the team in the shorter formats of the game. It was something that earned him the nickname ‘Captain Cool.’ His habit of scoring runs in the final over of the match also led to him being known as one of the best finishers in the game. After taking over the captaincy from Rahul Dravid, Dhoni had guided India to victory in the 2007 World T20, 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy beside powering the team to number one ranking in Test cricket. Dhoni retired from Test cricket during India’s tour to Australia in 2014 following a slump in form.
Dhoni made his international debut in 2004 against Bangladesh. After a string of poor scores, Dhoni made his presence felt with a brilliant century (148*) against Pakistan in Vizag. He continued his good show during India’s tour to Pakistan in 2005-06 and was later made the skipper after India’s first round exit from the ODI World Cup in 2007. Dhoni was the most successful captain for India as the team registered maximum wins under his leadership in Tests and ODIs. He is also credited for most back-to-back wins by India in ODIs. He captained India in 199 ODIs and 72 T20Is.
Dhoni read the one-day game better than he did Test cricket, and was India’s finest captain in the shorter formats. Dhoni has scored over nine thousand runs in ODI’s at an average of 50.89 and has slammed nine centuries and 61 half centuries. He has also scored 4876 runs in 90 Test matches at an average of 38.09. Besides, the wicket-keeper batsman has so far made 1112 runs from 73 T20 Internationals.
Rahul Dravid, Former Indian Captain
Ravi Shastri, Former Indian Cricketer
Sachin Tendulkar, Former Indian Captain
Sunil Gavaskar, Former Indian Captain
Records and titles speak volumes about the greatness of MS Dhoni, the leader, at least in limited-overs cricket. But there is more to Dhoni than captaincy and cricket. Dhoni once said: “I have three dogs at home. Even after losing a series or winning a series, they treat me the same way. Getting up quite late in the morning, going to clean my bikes, spending some time family and friends, going out for rides with my friends and having lunch or dinner at a roadside hotel — that is my favourite time-pass.”
Australian legend Mike Hussey, who has played under the leadership of Dhoni in Chennai Super Kings, once said, “one of Dhoni’s greatest qualities as a skipper was that he made his players realise that cricket was not the most important thing in a person’s life. He has helped the team to so much success in all forms of the game, but an even better person with a great family. His calmness…he had this amazing ability to help players relax, enjoy the game and not put too much pressure on themselves, which is not that easy in a place like India where cricket is a religion.”
He let his team play with freedom, took decisions that surprised even his teammates and backed his instincts. Dhoni could be India’s greatest captain when it came to backing one’s instincts. Asking Joginder Sharma to bowl the last over of 2007 World T20 final or promoting himself to No. 4 in 2011 World Cup title clash raised many eyebrows.
Those decisions were not planned. They were spontanious based on situations. They looked great because their actions succeeded. And, that is where Dhoni has inched ahead of other captains. It was a captaincy mantra that he followed, and which saw India rise to the top in both Test and ODI rankings. Whether Dhoni was bowing to the inevitable by giving up the captaincy, or merely anticipating the future by a fortnight, the fact remains that once again, he goes out on his own terms.
by Sorabh Aggarwal