M.S. Dhoni- 5 captaincy moments to remember

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M.S. Dhoni- 5 captaincy moments to remember

30th December 2014- the day when MS Dhoni announced his retirement from Tests, it was totally unexpected and shocking. Everyone thought he would stick around as limited overs captain at least until the 2019 world cup but now again on the 4th of Jan 2017 he steps down as limited overs captain.

MS Dhoni has been at the receiving end of a lot of flak every time India has lost a match of late. Agreed, 'of late', he has not always been on the right side of a risky call. That's the problem in taking risks - you always leave yourselves open to the chance of failing. In the long run though, the same exceptional presence of mind under pressure has helped India win matches. There have been several instances where his quick thinking and risk-taking ability has paid off and handed India a win. 

1) India vs Pakistan, 2007 T20 world cup Final

India won the toss and chose to bat first in the final of the first-ever T20 world cup. With the help of Gautam Gambhir’s 75, India reached the total of 157 for the loss of 5 wickets. Team India picked up wickets in regular intervals that helped in restricting Pakistan from having any big partnerships. At the fall of 4 wickets when Pakistan’s score was 65 for 4, Misbah-ul-Haq walked onto the crease. Though he stabilised one end, Pakistan continued to lose wickets.

In the end, Pakistan needed 13 runs in the last over to beat their archrivals and take home the world cup. The newly appointed captain had a choice between the experienced Harbhajan Singh and Joginder Sharma who was new to the international circuit. Harbhajan was a little all over the place in his previous over that he bowled to Misbah. Hence Joginder Sharma was chosen to bowl the most important over of the match that was going to decide the winner of the inaugural T20 world cup. After hitting a six off the second ball of the over, Misbah mistimed a scoop the very next ball towards fine leg and Sreesanth fielding at the position took the catch. 

It was a risky decision to take, but in the end, it paid off as Joginder bowled slower through the air, which led to Misbah’s mistimed shot.

2) India vs Sri Lanka, 2011 world cup final 

India needed 161 runs to beat Sri Lanka and win the world cup after 28 years, when Virat Kohli fell on 35. Muttiah Muralitharan was bowling from one end when the Indian captain MS Dhoni decided to walk in to bat.

It was a major gamble that he took as Yuvraj Singh was having a golden run in the world cup with 4 50s and a hundred, and on the other hand, Dhoni did not score even a single 50 until the final. On this given day he decided to walk in up the order and take up the team’s responsibility. With 161 runs to win, he started to score freely. His innings of 91 runs from 79 balls helped India win the match and the World Cup by 6 wickets and with 10 balls remaining.

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India became the first ever team to win a 60 over world cup, a 20 over world cup and a 50 over world cup. 

3) India vs England, 2013 Champions Trophy final

After rain played spoilsport to cut down the match to 20-overs a side, India set up a small score of 130 in the final against England and were waiting for a miracle. The bowlers began well; but it was the introduction of spinners that turned the match on its head. The dry pitch caused the ball to grip and turn. But the partnership between Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara brought England back into the match, and they required only 20 runs off the last 16 balls.

It was Dhoni's masterstroke that helped India in securing the win. He held the spinners Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja for the last two overs and that turned out to be critical in the context the game. He likewise gave Ishant Sharma the ball to bowl the eighteenth over, and Ishant paid back the faith and got the key wickets of Morgan and Bopara. The English players found it difficult to play against the spinners and Dhoni had his plans prepared. Jadeja and Ashwin proved that their skipper's call was right and India scripted a great ending to lift the ICC Champion's Trophy. This win made Dhoni the only skipper to win all the ICC trophies. 

4) India vs Bangladesh, 2016 T20 world cup

India could make only 146/7 in their 20 overs and Bangladeshi batsmen began hitting big right from the beginning of their innings, turning the match in their favour. Tamim Iqbal was ablaze and was given splendid support by Shabbir Rahman who chose to explode from the word Go. He was going great until MS Dhoni brought on Suresh Raina and he attracted Rahman outside the crease enough for Dhoni to demonstrate his skills with gloves. He waited for Shabbir's feet to go up in the air to take the bails off and finish Shabbir's promising innings. Shabbir had scored 26 off just 15 balls.

Bangladesh needed 11 runs from the last over when MS Dhoni had a choice between Hardik Pandya and Suresh Raina. Pandya had already given 20 runs off his previous 2 overs but Dhoni went ahead with him. Hardik Pandya came to bowl and gave away 2 boundaries in 2 deliveries. Much to the rush of the Bangladeshi batsmen, they went for a couple of big shots and ended up losing 2 wickets in consecutive deliveries. The match went down to the wire to the last ball. Bangladesh required 2 to win.

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Hardik Pandya strolled again to his run-up, the Indian captain tossed the keeper's glove of his right hand - Dhoni must have anticipated the batsman to miss the ball and trying to steal a bye. 

When Pandya pitched it short outside the off-stump and Shuvagata Hom missed it, Dhoni gathered the ball, sprinted towards tho wickets and brought them down. The third umpirage affirmed that Dhoni beat both Mustafizur and Bangladesh by a couple inches.

5) India vs Australia, 5th ODI

India lost their first 4 matches of the series despite some good batting exhibitions and were staring at a whitewash. In the last game of the series, India was chasing 331, and Dhoni came in the 35th over with India still needing 100 runs and a young line-up including Gurkeerat Mann and Rishi Dhawan coming up later. Instead of taking over, the captain allowed Manish Pandey to continue his good streak.

Rotating strike, Dhoni held his end firm and scored only one boundary until the last over - just 28 runs off 48 balls. 

Manish Pandey was playing a dream innings standing on 98 when India needed 13 off the last over. It was Dhoni standing at the other end with him and in the second ball, Dhoni hit a mighty six to take India closer. He got out in the next delivery while attempting to send another one into the stands. But, he had made sure that Pandey was not forced to fight the battle with an inexperienced player at the other end and curbed his instincts to play second-fiddle to a  very junior player.

Sometimes it is the little details that define a player as a captain. 

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