It was the last over of a humdinger. India and Pakistan had given it their all, but after 39 overs, there was nothing to separate the two sides. If anything, Pakistan, with Misbah at the crease, were still favourites to win the inaugural World T-20.
MS Dhoni, the Indian captain, stunned one and all by throwing the ball to an unfancied Joginder Sharma. Running up to Jogi, Dhoni said a few words before running back to take his position behind the stumps.
Sharma, inspired by the faith reposed in him, produced the over of his life, and MS Dhoni, the man with the Midas touch, had lifted himself to Indian cricket lore. India was World T-20 champion against all odds, and Dhoni, on his return to India, was Indian cricket’s new pin-up star.
|MS Dhoni after winning the World T-20 2007.|
Unruffled under pressure and with an uncanny ability to finish a match from any situation, he soon became India’s go-to man in ODI cricket. Winning the Commonwealth Bank series in Australia against a strong Australian side, Dhoni had started raising the bar early on in his career.
Commanding respect and loyalty from within the team, he was soon the undisputed leader that Sourav Ganguly once was. Only his record in the shorter format was better and it became unsurpassable when he won the 2011 World Cup on home soil.
Despite a poor tournament, he had the pulse to push himself up the order in a pressure cooker final and played a real blinder when India needed him the most. When he hit that final six out of the park, he knew he had elevated himself to a pedestal few would be able to match.
|When he hit that final six [against Sri Lanka, World Cup 2011] out of the park, he knew he had elevated himself to a pedestal few would be able to match.|
But the surprise had not ended. Shaving his head the first thing next morning, Dhoni turned himself into India’s most loved picture postcard with World Cup in hand and that amiable smile to woo his millions of fans. The Dhoni fairytale had reached the halfway mark.
Losing the plot in England and Australia in 2011-12, many had started to doubt Dhoni the skipper. As a batsman, however, he was still at his best. Winning matches single-handedly, he had every reason to believe he could turn the tide. He did so in 2013 during the Champions Trophy in England completing a treble which no captain in the world had ever achieved.
|After winning the World Cup 2011.|
Dhoni leaves behind a legacy that will be difficult to match. More importantly, he has yet again raised the bar by leaving on his own terms.
Sensing that Virat Kohli is now the talisman, he has done the perfect thing by passing on the baton. And, in the process, has given himself, the player and batsman, a new lease of life.
The decision to give up captaincy is signature Dhoni - pragmatic and nicely thought out. And needless to say a decision with maximum impact.
This call, which frees him of the pressures of captaincy, has once again set the stage for that dialogue from his film, MSD: The Untold Story, to become reality, “Mahi maar raha hai". Can’t wait for the ODIs against England to begin.
Many congratulations, MS Dhoni.