The mood was tense and the setting electric at Wankhede stadium, it was 10 PM on April 2, 2011 and India needed four runs off 11 balls against Sri Lanka. Captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on strike with 85 runs in 75 balls, signed off in style with a maximum into the Garware stand.
The country erupted in joy, people across India flooded the streets, UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi joined the celebrations in New Delhi. India had just won their second World Cup after a gap of 28 years. Only four years before achieving this feat, he brought home the first T20 World Cup.
Eight years after scripting history, on Monday (December 23), Dhoni, the creator of the ‘helicopter shot’ and powerhouse of Indian cricket, completes 15 years in international cricket. Now, the record-breaking wicketkeeper-batsman is on a sabbatical.
The two-time World Cup-winning captain with 17,266 runs across all formats and 829 dismissals behind the stumps only scratches the surface of Dhoni’s skill and leadership.
On December 23, 2004, the long-haired 23-year-old cricketer walked into the Chittagong stadium against Bangladesh and got out without opening his account. Now, 38, Dhoni has played 350 ODIs, 90 Tests and 98 T20 Internationals. His career is studded with several milestones including leading the squad to lift three major ICC trophies –World Cup (2011), T20 World Cup (2007) and Champions Trophy (2013).
One of the moments etched in the mind of cricket aficionados was the chat between Dhoni and then Pakistan President General Pervez Musharaf. After defeating arch-rivals Pakistan by five runs Musharaf lauded Dhoni for his innings and told him not to cut his hair.
As the captain of Chennai Super King franchise, ‘Thala’ Dhoni (leader in Tamil) led the team to three titles and two Champions League Twenty20 victories, one of which came right after the franchise made its comeback, with 70% of the team being above the age of 35, from a two-year-long ban.
Dhoni, at the peaks of his career, was three cricketers in one in white-ball cricket. He could bat at any position and maintain a poker face in the most strenuous of situations.
After taking over the reins from Ganguly, Sehwag, and Tendulkar, the honorary lieutenant colonel in the Territorial Army turned the Indian cricket around making it an opposition many feared.
Known as one of the best finishers in the world, Dhoni could read the pulse of the game and there were few to surpass his speed and precision behind the stumps. His quick referral for a review to the third umpire earned the DRS its moniker, ‘Dhoni Review System.’
The last time the Ranchi-born cricketer donned national colours and during the 2019 ICC World Cup where the team had to face an 18-run semi-final defeat against New Zealand. Dhoni was run-out after a half-century. However, even after 15 years of his debut, the fans held their hopes high till the time he was on the crease.
Though the past few months have been filled with speculations over his retirement, the former skipper recently told the reporters, “Don’t ask me anything till January,” one thing is for sure that Dhoni will be in his yellow jersey in the upcoming IPL 2020 and fans across India are sure to chant “Dhoni! Dhoni!”
15 memorable moments of 'Captain Cool'
15 memorable moments of 'Captain Cool'
#15YearsofDhonism took social media by storm with people from across the world celebrating their former captain’s feat.
— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) December 22, 2019
— subramani badrinath (@s_badrinath) December 23, 2019
— MS Dhoni Fans Official (@msdfansofficial) December 22, 2019
└📁 MS Dhoni
└📁 Potential replacements
└⚠ Folder empty
— Kings XI Punjab (@lionsdenkxip) December 23, 2019
To be a hero, you must sacrifice something and for @msdhoni it was family time as he tells us how tough it can be to balance 🏏and 👪 together.
Watch the #15YearsOfDhoni Special:
⌚️: Tomorrow 7 AM onwards
📺: Star Sports 1/1HD/1 Hindi/1HD Hindi. pic.twitter.com/1FxCNE5ZL8
— Star Sports (@StarSportsIndia) December 22, 2019
— Whistle Podu Army ® – CSK Fan Club (@CSKFansOfficial) December 23, 2019