7th July 1981 was nothing but a date until it became the birthday of Mahendra Singh Dhoni – the most successful captain of the Indian Cricket Team. This date is an occasion now when millions of people across India and abroad celebrate Dhoni as one of the most special gifts to Indian Cricket. MS has almost all the records for an Indian Captain including the most awesome and glorious ones like winning all the ICC world championships under him. The T20 world cup in 2007, ODI world cup in 2011 and the Champions Trophy in 2013 are all the feathers in Dhoni’s cap. Add to that the number one ranking that the Indian team reached in all the 3 formats of the game and his record becomes phenomenal. He has seen the lows as well where India lost 8-0 in consecutive series in England and Australia but again as expected he bounced back well and in style to avenge it from Australia by beating them 4-0, to prove his mettle again.
Everyone talks about how good a captain he is and how calm and shrewd he is in decisive situations but I believe he has been more important as a player rather than the captain for Indian Cricket.
He is the player that the fans of Indian Cricket always dreamt of having in the team. We as cricket fans envied the top teams for having players that could frustrate the Indian team by winning tight matches against India after losing early wickets. For Instance, Michael Bevan, Michael Hussey, Andrew Symonds who played for Australia, came at No. 6 or 7 and could change the game with their power hitting or smart running. We as Indian Cricket Team fans had never seen someone like that in our team ever. The matches we won were mainly due to our top order. Mostly Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly would set the game through a big century and Rahul Dravid and Yuvraj would finish it off. But if India lost early wickets quickly or if they required a hefty run rate in the last overs, they had no one to bank upon.
The arrival of MS Dhoni changed it all. With Dhoni, we had that player who we wanted to come in to bat in the last 6 or 7 overs of the innings as he could blast away the ball from the start to get those additional 25-30 runs in the end overs.
His big hitting had the nation drooling over him, specially the helicopter shot, through which he could dispatch even the Yorkers for six. He was the next gen cricketer.
The way he ran (and still runs) between the wickets converting singles into doubles and doubles into threes was unique for Indian Cricket. His raw power and smart wicket keeping were the X-Factors for him. He displayed his versatility by scoring heaps of runs and winning numerous matches on his own for India, batting at No. 3 as a pinch hitter in his early days. Who can forget his 148 vs Pakistan at Vizag or his sixes filled 183 not out vs Sri Lanka at Jaipur. We had longed for a cricketer in the Indian Team who could hit big sixes and score in double digit run rates in the end overs, Someone who could instill fear in the bowlers minds, again in the death overs (as we always had the top order strength to do that in the initial overs).
As the years passed by, MS showed another aspect of his game and that too the most important one. MS Dhoni – The Finisher.
He had showed glimpses of his temperament in a test match in England where he batted almost a full day with tailenders to save the match for India with an uncharacteristic and gritty 90 runs. In fact, that innings played a crucial role in making Sachin believe that MS was the most suitable candidate for captaincy in the future for Indian Team which he conveyed to the selectors as well. Uncountable matches have been won by Dhoni, after losing the top order early. He has this unmatchable quality of dragging a losing match to the final over and then turning it on its head. That is Dhoni’s style. In fact, almost every match that India has won in the last few years, Dhoni was the man on strike and more often than not, the ball went for a six. This is the evergreen poster image of Dhoni.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the answer to the prayers of Indian Cricket fans who longed for a player who could match up to international standards (largely like Australian players) who could soak up pressure and win tight or rather impossible games for India. With a wish that Dhoni keeps on playing for India for a few more years, here`s wishing MS a heartiest happy birthday