Mahendra Singh Dhoni – The falcon of Indian Cricket
Like a contrasting fiction – the cricketing career of a thorough professional has been subsequently enmeshed with occasional failures first with the bat, followed by his leadership and then the glovework, but his commitment and humble behaviour has won him all the rewards owing to the mixed blend of his brilliant career and it’s none other than astute thinker and magnanimous Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who stands atop regarding the riveting story behind the stumps apart from his batting prowess.
From soccer to the world of cricket, he is exactly past 36 years and 169 days and his success story unravelled on the same day at the age of little over 23 way back on December 23, 2004, at Chittagong in Bangladesh when the hosts was led by Habibul Bashar.
Composed in his nature, and right into his own world, Dhoni was famous for his long hair strands, and then as a dynamic leader before his reflexes behind the stumps earned him praises even from the youngsters who decided to make career behind the stumps.
And such compliments might seem ordinary to us, but they are at such an age which could turn them into another success story like the Ranchi-lad has immersed into following the hardships during his impressive career – to relish the rollercoaster ride.
Across formats, Dhoni claimed 596 catches and affected 172 stumping and interestingly he has a solitary wicket to his name which came during 2009 ICC Champions Trophy in the form of Windies Travis Dowlin.
I might seem political in approach while talking about his dark and grey phase, but that’s the part and parcel of the game before he laid hands over coveted trophies not only once but thrice during his international career which saw leading him the national side to the top of charts in Tests which was followed by limited-overs competition comprised of 50-over format and T20I.
Moreover, the professional careers of players have had witnessed the astronomical rise even when the age was not with them after starting off their top-flight cricket on a worrying note and Dhoni had a similar sort of story which was overshadowed by his belief in him and dedication of gelling the team behind the stumps before records and trophies literally chased him down to filling of his cabinet of his home.
At times, a phase comes when it is not about the fluency which stands at the crossroads when it comes to the cooperation, pledge and passion for the game one has yearned for since donning the coveted national jersey.
If I am being asked to explain Dhoni in one sentence I would prefer to say: ‘In his arc and right into the stands – to lit up the crowd such has been his timeline’.
It’s neither about the debatable batting technique and nor about the unorthodox style to score runs- it is more about the consistency and battling it out for team’s cause, and Dhoni has been right into that mindset while betraying the personal milestones when he could have easily raced in – to make most of out of the opportunities that have been thrown in his way being in his prime in the yesteryears.
Apart from the world titles under his belt, the nimbleness of Dhoni has been the burgeoning highlight of his career when he is even past his age.
However, interestingly, unerringly 14 years back, in his very first match of the top-flight cricket; Dhoni was run out on nought after facing the maiden ball of his career when the Tigers’ Tapash Baisya threw the ball on time to allow gloveman Khaled Mashud do the rest in a flash.
And there on, the numbers are just stunning when it comes to the dismissals on the basis of run-outs.
Interestingly, in 144 innings of 90 Tests, Dhoni was found well short of his crease just four times owing to the run out dismissals and in 312 One-day Internationals, he was run out 15-times while running between the wickets and it goes to six in 74 innings of his 85 T20I outings.
However, to be precise, under the captaincy of the then captain Sourav Ganguly India won that match by 11 runs when Bangladesh was chasing down the target of 246 and was restricted to 234 for eight in 50 allotted overs.
We have read about his numbers, his way of leading the team when they seemed to be in dire straits and such has been his class which set him as an invaluable asset different in the gentleman’s game.
He has instilled confidence among his teammates to deliver owing to their strength and the latest example of him throwing the support behind has been Kuldeep Yadav which simultaneously saw him extending the help to the national team skipper Virat Kohli.
Since being handed over the captaincy in 2007, Dhoni grabbed all the headlines when India lifted the maiden Twenty20 World Cup Title against Pakistan in Johannesburg and more was on the way to make him most successful captain for India.
Exactly after four years in 2011, Dhoni wielded his bat like an axe by playing his trademark helicopter shot to seal the 50-over World Cup trophy against Sri Lanka in 2011 at iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai before lifting the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013 against hosts England.
Remarkable in the 50-over format, Dhoni is just 102 runs away to reach the 10,000-run landmark and he was just 124 runs short to register 5,000 Test runs before calling it quits in the Test format way back in December 2014 when he played his last Test against Australia at Melbourne.
Having the ability to score runs in terms of boundaries so far Dhoni smashed 765 fours and 216 sixes in ODI.
In Tests, Dhoni registered 544 boundaries and 78 sixes, as it stands as 92 fours and 43 maximums in T20Is.
Dhoni might be having just a solitary fifty in the 20-over format, but he has smashed 67 in ODIs and 33 in Tests. He also smashed 10 hundreds in 50-over format and six in the longer version of the game.
Practically, Dhoni has been a stepping-stone during the watershed moment of Indian cricket, and incredible Virat Kohli has taken the leaf out of his book when it comes to leading team on the ground.
Tahir Ibn Manzoor