No Indian can forget the words of Ravi Shastri from the commentary box – “Dhoni finishes off in style. A magnificent strike into the crowd! India lift the World Cup after 28 years!”
The World Cup-winning moment, still fresh in the mind of every fan, was absolutely magnificent. Dhoni’s unbeaten 91-run knock was a key reason behind India basking in World Cup glory back in 2011. Hunting down a challenging 275-run target, he steered India past the finishing line at Wankhede, ensuring that there was no late drama in the summit clash.
The Indian dressing room roared in joy as Dhoni dispatched a six off Nuwan Kulasekara to send the ball into the stands. Not only did Dhoni give millions of Indians a memory worth revisiting throughout their lives, but also transformed himself into a formidable “finisher”, one with ice in his veins.
Cut to the present day and Dhoni, India's "beloved" skipper, is still a fan-favourite amongst all age groups. The "Captain Cool", who has won all major cricketing accolades that one can achieve during his playing stint, celebrates his 40th birthday today on July 7th.
In a cricket-obsessed nation like India where the sport is nothing short of a religion, Dhoni's name remains right up there in the list of most successful skippers. The country had already witnessed the brilliance of Kapil Dev and Sourav Ganguly but the emergence of Dhoni as a leader helped the Indian team in becoming a dominant force in world cricket.
Dhoni may have not received a proper farewell but his accomplished career made him India's most decorated captain. Dhoni’s captaincy saga started in 2007 when he led a young Indian to victory in the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa.
There was no looking back for Dhoni after that. Often described as the man with a Midas touch, the wicketkeeper-batsman eventually became one of the most decorated skippers of Indian cricket. Not only did he inspire youngsters with his on-field demeanour, but also orchestrated games with his captaincy moves, batting wits and glovework. Dhoni remains the only wicketkeeper in the world to notch up 100 or more stumpings in the One-Day Internationals.
Dhoni is the only captain in the history of the sport to have won three ICC trophies – T20 World Cup (2007), ODI World Cup (2011) and Champions Trophy (2013). It was under the leadership of Dhoni that India reached the numero uno spot in both Test and ODI formats of the sport.
On this day in 2013: MS Dhoni completed hat-trick of ICC trophies as India clinched Champions Trophy
Under Dhoni, India won 41 Test matches out of 72, 110 ODI matches out of 200, and 27 T20I games out of 60. On the batting front, he gathered 17,226 runs in his international career which spanned from 2004 to 2019.
The IPL record of 'Chinna Thala' is also phenomenal. Under the captaincy of Dhoni, CSK have won three IPL titles as well as the Champions Trophy in 2010 and 2014. Dhoni, who is now Chepauk's beloved man, has played for the Chennai-based out in every season, except for two seasons when the franchise was banned.
India's semi-final exit in the 2019 World Cup, a heartbreak against New Zealand, turned out to be Dhoni's last appearance in the blue jersey. While his fans were eagerly waiting to see him don the India jersey one more time, Dhoni, almost a year ago, drew curtains on an illustrious international career. He announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket on 15 August 2020.
Dhoni, however, is yet to contemplate retirement from franchise cricket. He will be seen in action when CSK battles for yet another title in the remainder of IPL 2021 this year. Amid growing calls over not-so-young Dhoni's ability to deliver with the bat, all we can say is -- "Enjoy It While It Lasts".