Mahendra Singh Dhoni might be a man of few words but we, here at SportsCafe, simply cannot stop thinking, writing or raving about the phenom. Today, we list out our favourite MS Dhoni moments and boy do we not have enough to say about the man who broke our hearts at 19:29 hours on Saturday.
Dhoni’s night out at Lord’s
MS Dhoni was chastised for the entirety of his Test career for being a failure away from the sub-continent, but seldom have people acknowledged that this ‘ugly, walking wicket’ was responsible for India’s biggest SENA series win of the century prior to Australia 2018. Dhoni, red-ball and SENA are three terms that do not go hand-in-hand, but on a cold evening at Lord’s back in 2007, the Jharkhand man looked like he could fend off the demon’s threat using a broken pencil. Overcast conditions, a swinging Dukes ball and an in-form Anderson, Sidebottom and Tremlett spelt doomsday for the visitors, but with the imperfect wand and the unwavering mind of his, Dhoni hung on for dear life.
With little but no support, he batted, batted and batted for 159 balls and 203 minutes in the hope of the cricketing (rain) gods answering his prayers and answer his prayers they did - on the stroke of tea. Incessant rains put an abrupt end to the Test and India, who were 282/9, 98 shy of the target, escaped an inevitable defeat. The Englishmen, understandably, blamed the draw on rain but really, it was Dhoni’s unflinching 76* that denied them a W. A 12-year-old me thought it would be the first of many great Dhoni SENA knocks, but a 24-year-old me, knowing that it was his greatest ever SENA knock, now cherishes it like no other.
The Ranchi boy’s 148-run blitzkrieg in Visakhapatnam
Having managed only a duck on debut and adding another 22 in the next three, it was now or never for the small-town boy when he barged down to the centre of the 22-yard strip at Visakhapatnam on a hot April day, 15 years ago. With Tendulkar back in the hut, eyeballs were glued to the right-hander, along with his characteristic long hair that was touching his shoulders from the back of the helmet. Mohammad Sami, Naved-ul-Hasan Rana, Abdul Razzaq all stormed towards the batsman, but none had expected what was in store for them.
When Mahendra Singh Dhoni departed in the 42nd over, each and every soul present inside the stadium could do nothing but applaud the master class which they’d witnessed in the past two and a half hours. His score read 148 runs, with 15 boundaries and 4 maximums to his name. And that, folks, was the beginning of an era. The rest, as they say, is history.
Finding hope in despair
One catch, no stumping and a fifty in a losing cause. That’s it. That’s all about it. India lost the game and crashed out of the World Cup and as it would be immortalised forever, Dhoni ended his career with a run-out. But think and think again - after being down for 3-5 and soon 4-24, didn’t you have some hope? A bit of hope in some corner that Mahi would do it again. Like he had done it time and time again in the past. You looked past, entered the journey and wanted to be a part of it.
Because with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, there was love, there was faith and that would forever be with me as my most favourite Dhoni memory even though it meant a loss and a failure. It was the hope that Dhoni would be remembered forever. Old Trafford will forever be the place which would haunt Indian cricket fans, for eternity, for what could have been, but for me, it was the honest symbolisation of a man’s entire career, filled with honesty and, at times, brutality.
The Art: Finishing; The Artist: MS Dhoni
He came, he saw, he finished games at free will, he conquered, he walked away silently - our favourite skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has retired, yes, let that sink in! However, in the wake of his retirement from cricket, I want to remember him through one of his iconic finishes that gave India a thrilling victory in the last over against Australia at Adelaide in the Commonwealth Bank ODI Series 2011-12. Dhoni came out to bat in the 35th over and joined Suresh Raina when India lost four wickets and still needed 92 runs from the last 15 overs. He looked a little scratchy at the start of that knock as India kept on losing wickets from the other end. It reached a point where India needed 13 from the last over, which was being bowled by Clint McKay.
The first ball of that over - that was faced by Ashwin - was a dot followed by a scratchy single which brought Dhoni back on strike and India needed 12 from the last four deliveries. The heart rates were mounting but the presence of the ever-so-calm-and-composed MS Dhoni prevented those temperatures from soaring. Dhoni clubbed the 3rd ball for a mighty six over long on and all of a sudden it was 6 needed off 3. McKay followed it up with a waist-high no ball, and Dhoni ran two and, after that, the skipper placed the next ball between the fielders and ran three to take India over the line.
This was the Dhoni we knew and cherished. Perhaps it’s only fair that we keep watching these nail-biting finishes on loop!
Tredwell misses, Dhoni makes history as first skipper to win three ICC titles
Even before the match could start, England were touted to win the 2013 edition of the Champions Trophy while India were there, having to brave both the home side and the weather. History was there to make, Dhoni with a World-Cup winning squad had the opportunity to put his name on the record books and better Australia’s Ricky Ponting and his dynasty. When England won the toss and elected to bowl first, all hopes were quashed (or, at least, everyone thought so).
With the bat, the Indian skipper walked off for a duck and that was a sting to India’s hopes as they scored 129. In overcast conditions, it was widely expected that Dhoni’s trusted duo of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin would be rendered useless. He wasn’t going to give up on his spin duo, though, who ended up picking four wickets between them. More than that, it was the decision of handing the ball over to Ishant Sharma who, in the span of two deliveries, picked up wickets of Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara, left England trembling and turned the match on its head.
Six from one, Ashwin to Tredwell - Tredwell misses, Dhoni misses and there we have it, India claim their third ICC title. With that, Dhoni entered into the record books, winning all the three limited-overs titles, becoming the first skipper to do so in the sport’s history.