Once in a while, there arrives a cricketer who changes the way of play. From Sir Don Bradman to Sachin Tendulkar and from Muttiah Muralitharan to Glenn McGrath, all left their marks and the world followed them. India’s very recent game-changer happens to be MS Dhoni. Yes, he is one of the cricketers of the generation who has stamped himself firmly in the cricketing books.
The describers of MS Dhoni run out of superlatives when talking about him. Such is the stature of the man that he leaves all of us amazed each time with his magic. India’s most successful captain is now a living legend. He is the one that the young and aspiring cricketers. Not just from India, but all across the cricketing fraternity follow MS Dhoni.
His is an inspirational story. The lads from the Urban cities like Delhi and Mumbai ruled cricket in India. MS hailed from a small town and reached at the helm of affairs. The desire to represent his nation kept him going despite all the troubles. And here he stands as the best leader the country has ever seen.
MS Dhoni Family and early days
As the number on his jersey suggests, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was born on 7th July 1981 in Ranchi, Bihar (now in Jharkhand). His father, Pan Singh, is a former employee of MECON and his mother, Devaki Devi is a housewife. His elder brother, Narendra Singh Dhoni is a politician while his elder sister Jayanti Gupta is an English teacher. He got married to Sakshi Singh Rawat in 2010 and the couple has a daughter named Ziva.
Initially, it wasn’t cricket that MS turned to. He was the goalkeeper of his school’s football team, DAV Jawahar Vidya Mandir. One day, to fill in for the wicketkeeper of the cricket team, the coach sent him as a replacement. That was the turning point of his life. Dhoni adapted cricket and cricket adopted Dhoni.
His impressive performances as a wicketkeeper as well as a batsman gave him a prominent slot in the Commando cricket club team. He kept climbing ladders as a teenager and went on to play Ranji for Bihar in the 1999-2000. He scored an unbeaten 68 in his debut game. Then notched up a hundred against Bengal in the next season.
MS Dhoni : From a Railway servant to a cricketer
Playing in the domestic cricket builds a base for the long term but it didn’t ensure a wealthy life in those days. Hailing from a middle-class family, he had to look for ways to earn and hence, he served as a Travelling Ticket Examiner (TTE) at Kharagpur railway station, a job that he secured with the sports quota.
From 2001 to 2003, he stayed with his job but was destined for something far bigger. Despite the family pressure to continue with the job, he kept putting the hard yards in on the cricket field. But the luck was not by his side as in spite of being picked in the Duleep Trophy squad for the East Zone, he couldn’t reach Agartala, the venue for the match, in time.
But it didn’t stop him. He kept going strong and forced the selectors to turn their attention towards him. Dhoni’s performances in the Ranji Trophy and the Deodhar Trophy didn’t go unnoticed and the 2003-04 season finally brought some good fortunes. He finished on the winning squad in the Deodhar Trophy and was picked for India A squad for the tour to Zimbabwe.
He was impressive in his stint with India A and the then captain of the national side, Sourav Ganguly saw something special in him. Eventually, MS Dhoni got he wanted all his life. In the year 2004-05 he was taken in the Indian squad for the Bangladesh tour.
The beginning of MS Dhoni in Indian cricket
International cricket is not easy and he witnessed that in his debut game where he got run out for a duck. The whole series didn’t yield fruitful results but the selectors showed faith in him and gave him another go for the ODI series against Pakistan. The rivalry between India and Pakistan is the one that the whole world watches with keen eyes.
There couldn’t be a better stage for MS Dhoni and he pounced on the opportunity and announced his arrival in the game of cricket. In Visakhapatnam, Ganguly promoted him to bat at No.3 for the first time and he scored a magnificent 148 off just 123 balls that included 15 fours and 4 towering sixes. India scored a massive 356 and thumped the neighbors by 58 runs.
Another explosion from Dhoni’s bat came against Sri Lanka when he scored 183 runs, his highest ODI score till date. Very rapidly, he built a reputation of being a power-hitter but contrary to that, he later made a mark batting down the order when he finished matches for India. There was no stopping MS Dhoni as he rose to the top of Indian cricket in no time.
The MS Dhoni era
The Indian team had traveled to the Caribbean to take part in the 2007 ODI World Cup. Led by Rahul Dravid, it was a star-studded unit with the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Virender Sehwag, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh. But opposite to the expectations, India crashed out of the tournament in the first round itself after suffering humiliating defeats at the hands of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
The team including MS Dhoni received huge criticism and rage from the fans. Later that year, the inaugural World Cup of T20 cricket was to be held in South Africa. All the big guns had pulled out of the squad and as a result, MS Dhoni became the captain of the side which had young and fresh talent.
Under his leadership, India went on to lift the trophy and that was the official inception of the Dhoni era in Indian cricket. He became the ODI captain, after the victorious triumph. Leadership came naturally to him and once he got that, he flourished to his best. After Anil Kumble retired from international cricket, Dhoni became the skipper of all 3 formats for India.
During his captaincy, the Men in Blue achieved several remarkable victories that included the Commonwealth Bank tri-series in Australia. Team India went on to become No.1 in ICC Test Rankings in his reign.
MS Dhoni the Unstoppable
MS Dhoni became the No.1 ODI batsman in Rankings and amidst all this, he turned out to be the costliest player in the first-ever auction of the Indian Premier League and then went on to lead Chennai Super Kings to IPL titles on 2 occasions.
He was in no mood to stop and bagged the most significant achievement of his career when he led India to its second ODI World Cup triumph in 2011. His innings of unbeaten 91 in the world cup final against Sri Lanka at the Wankhede Stadium. That inning was one of the finest knocks in the history of the game.
He soaked in the pressure and calmly took India past the line.
2 years later, India won the ICC Champions Trophy in England with MS Dhoni being the captain. India reached the semi-finals of the ODI World Cup 2015 and World T20 2016. He relinquished captaincy post that and handed over the reigns to Virat Kohli across all 3 formats.
He had retired from the longest format of the game in 2016 but still represents the side in ODIs and T20Is. Recently, when Chennai Super Kings returned to the IPL after serving a suspension for 2 years, he brought them the 3rd IPL title being the leader once again.
MS Dhoni may not be the captain of the Indian team anymore. Yet he remains a leader as Virat Kohli once rightly said to him, “You will always be our captain.”
MS Dhoni Awards and Achievements
- MS Dhoni won the ICC ODI Player of the year in 2008 and 2009. He was named in the ICC ODI XI for 7 straight years from 2008 to 2014 and also made it to the ICC Test XI in the years 2009, 2010 and 2013.
- He has won 20 Man of the Match awards and 6 Man of the Series awards in ODI cricket. Along with that, he was adjudged the Man of the Match twice in Test cricket.
- In 2007, MS Dhoni received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award which is the highest honor given in India for achievement in sports.
- MS received the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honor in the year 2009.
- He received the Padma Bhushan, India’s third-highest civilian award in the year 2018.
MS Dhoni Records
- Most number of sixes as a captain in international cricket.
- Highest score as a wicketkeeper in ODIs (183).
- First Indian wicketkeeper to score 4000 Test runs.
- Only captain to lead in 50+ matches across all 3 formats.
- Won most T20Is as a captain.
- Most stumpings in international cricket.
- Only captain to score a century batting at No.7 in ODIs.
- First Indian captain to win a Test series in New Zealand.
- Most centuries batting at No.7 in ODIs.
- Most successful Indian captain in all 3 formats.
- Highest ODI average as a wicketkeeper-batsman.
- Highest unbeaten innings in successful ODI run-chases.
- Most international matches as a captain (331).