We were lucky yesterday but we are not so lucky today. We had a hope before 19:29 yesterday, but we have lost that hope now. Hope of seeing India’s greatest ever cricketer (arguably!) playing in the blue jersey again. Yes, MS Dhoni has changed the ways in which Cricket is being played in India. People have started to believe that a middle-class boy from a tier-3 city can chase his dreams and represent India like no one other did before him. As revolutionary as MS Dhoni was on the field, his contributions in giving confidence to young players have been immense. You can judge a player from his fan-following and this man has an unprecedented fan base. He will not be physically present but there will always be MS Dhoni around whenever Team India takes the field in terms of brand of cricket they play.
Time is perfect to take a look at top MS Dhoni moments that will be etched in the folklore of Indian cricket forever.
Whenever we will talk about MS Dhoni, we won’t get past without mentioning this particular night of 2nd April, 2011. Wankhede crowd was already having nightmares of another India meltdown in the home world cup before the captain decided to play his card. MS Dhoni promoted himself to play down the effects of the champion off-spinner on Yuvraj Singh. MS Dhoni and Gautam Gambhir scripted down an amazing turnaround with a partnership of 109 runs for the fourth wicket. After the departure of Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh joined MS Dhoni to complete the biggest formalities of their careers. So, when India’s greatest ever win came after 1983, MS Dhoni was the hero for the night. A six over long-on off the bowling of Nuwan Kulasekara. Period.
A couple of years later in 2013, India were playing another final against Sri Lanka. This time stakes were not so high in the Caribbean. Those who slept early in India without watching the finish from MS Dhoni, missed out on something special. Chasing 202 for win, India were all but done when they lost their 8th wicket on the score of 167 runs. Till that time, MS Dhoni was struggling on a sluggish Port of Spain pitch. He made his way through to the final over where India needed 15 runs to win but only one wicket remaining. It was time for Shaminda Eranga to get famous as it took only 4 balls for MS Dhoni to get India over the line. A six over long-off, a four through point & a six over extra-cover. As Ian Bishop said, “He is unbelievable in so many ways”.
When selectors decided to pick MS Dhoni as a wicket-keeper for team India, they had other options also. But they had seen something in this long-haired Ranchi boy that he had still to prove. After the disappointments in his first four outings, MS Dhoni was promoted to bat at number 3 against Pakistan at Vizag. He started off very aggressively and even Pakistani bowlers were stunned by his counter-attack. Some of his power hitting on the off-side was brutal to say the least. He capitalized on the start and blasted 148 runs from 123 balls. Selectors needed a proof to vindicate their decision to back MS Dhoni and they got one in some style. Vizag witnessed the beginning of a chapter in Indian cricket. A Star was born.
India were up against Bangladesh in a do-or-die encounter during the ICC World T20 in 2016. Bangladesh needed 10 runs from the last 5 balls to throw India out of the home world cup. The margin for error is so less at Chinnaswamy if you are a bowler and Hardik Pandya found that out in the next two deliveries. Mushfiqur Rahim sent the whole of crowd into silence with back to back boundaries. Bangladesh were sensing something very special with just two required from 3 balls. But then came the twist as Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah both got out to lofted shots over mid-wicket. For the last ball, Shuvagata Hom was on strike and Hardik Pandya dished out a delivery slightly wider from batsman’s reach. Shuvagata missed it and MS Dhoni was ready behind the stumps with his gloves off. He collected the ball but instead of throwing, he trusted his sprint to knock the stumps off before the non-striker came over for a single. A sprint that broke many Bangladeshi hearts.
MS Dhoni’s contributions in the longer format have always been underrated. Yes, he had his fair share of struggles in some of the conditions but he also had very crucial parts to play in some of India’s finest performances. We have specifically chosen this knock at Lord’s to remind his fans that he was not only about razzle-dazzle cricket. Team India was struggling to save the test match on the last day at Lord’s in 2007. MS Dhoni faced 159 balls in challenging overcast English conditions to make 76 unbeaten. More importantly, he guided the tail to bat with him and to fight for every single ball. India survived when play was called off due to bad light. India went on to win the test series on English soil after this draw in the first test match. Yes, India were lucky with a couple of umpiring decisions but it was MS Dhoni who kept India alive to fight another day.