Last week in Delhi, Chennai Super Kings lost their final league match to Trinidad & Tobago in Champions League T-20 Tournament. This required the team to reach Jaipur to play Rajasthan Royals in the semifinal. While the CSK boys took the short flight from Delhi, skipper Dhoni chose a more adventurous route. Despite match fatigue, he rode his X132 Hellcat European motorbike, to travel 265 kilometers from Delhi to Jaipur. The guy is made of sterner stuff and nerves of steel. It is not for nothing that they call him the captain cool. His cricketing journey to India’s national side is nearly as adventurous as the bike ride.
To constitute a cricket team, you need some batsmen, bowlers, all-rounders and a wicketkeeper. Sometimes, another wicket keeper is included to strengthen the batting. But strangely, the Indian team, in early years of new millennium, didn’t have a regular ODI keeper. In every match of the 2003 world cup, Rahul Dravid kept wickets, while regular keeper Parthiv Patel sat on the benches. This worked well, as India reached the finals. But the team needed a wicketkeeper and names of Patel, Ratra and Dinesh Kartik were thrown around. Somehow, MS Dhoni was relatively unknown until then.
But from the time, he was first spotted as a hard-hitting lower order ODI wicketkeeper-batsman for Jharkhand, Dhoni’s rise through the ranks has been phenomenal. During India’s tour of Pakistan in February 2006, Dhoni’s dazzling display drew accolades from the then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, who also humorously advised Dhoni to keep his long-hair intact. In 2007, Dhoni was named India’s ODI vice-captain and captain for the upcoming T-20 World Cup. Considering that he came to the ODI team only in the later part of 2004, it was a rather quick rise to becoming the captain.
Born on July 7, Dhoni embodies the virtues of a true Cancerian. The biggest trait of such people is furthering the well-being of those around them. Because cancerian men are never self-centered, one can forever feel safe with them. Perhaps for this reason, the Indian team has been devoid of any internal squabbles. With negative energies done away, the Indian team has been scaling one new high after another.
Leading India to victory, in World T-20 trophy in South Africa, was a high point in Dhoni’s career. In the final, India defeated arch-rivals Pakistan in an intensely fought match in September 2007. There is no looking back for Dhoni ever since, and he is the India captain now in all formats of the game.
Dhoni’s captaincy has been praised internationally. He has that little extra, which other captains lack. Without going to any management school, Dhoni knows the real virtue of leading from the front. One can see his poise under tense moments and handling of pressure situations. He is often seen as supporting and encouraging his colleagues on the field. The guy is gifted with a manager’s crucial trait of staying grounded and making the most of meager resources. One example is India’s lack of quality pace bowlers and how Dhoni is still able to put them to effective use. He is demonstrably averse to personal credit and believes in sharing the victory. Likewise, he is capable of absorbing the blame when the team loses. This can be seen in a balanced manner, when he talks during interviews. Soon after the World Cup victory in April 2011, the legendary Sachin Tendulkar openly acknowledged that Dhoni was the best captain, under whom he had ever played. In the final match, Dhoni led India with 91 not out to win the second world-cup after 28 years.
But characteristically, Dhoni has not allowed the captaincy to interfere with his batting. On countless occasions, his batting has turned the tables on the opponents. This is as much true in his role as India’s captain as his stewardship of the Chennai Super Kings in IPL. While his superb display in helping India win the 2011 World Cup has been mentioned above, there have many other occasions when he has proved to be a great finisher of the matches. The final of the tri-series in the Caribbean is a case in point, when India still needed 15 at the end of 49 overs and Dhoni couldn’t score off the first ball of the final over. But Dhoni banged the next three balls from Eranga for scores of 6, 4 and 6 to win the match in style. Likewise in the recently concluded Champion’s League T-20, Dhoni scored 63 runs in 19 balls with 5 sixes in 1 over and ensured that CSK emerged the winners.
With lot of cricket still left in Dhoni, the Indian cricket has a great future ahead.