January 4, 2017 11:01:40 pm
Remember the time when India had a disastrous ODI World Cup in the Caribbean back in 2007? They crashed out of the tournament from the group stages after suffering losses to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Then came the first T20 World Cup in South Africa. India needed a new captain as Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly had decided not to play in that tournament.
India had many choices. It was a team that had Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh. But the selectors chose Dhoni, a wicketkeeper-batsman only five years into his career. But who would have thought that the Ranchi boy with long hair will take India to title win in that World Cup.
More than nine years later, Dhoni has decided to step down as the limited overs captain of India and it is no doubt that he going down the best. Not only did he win that T20 World Cup, he led India to World Cup win in the 50-over format, ICC Champions Trophy and even the number one ranking in Tests, a format from which he retired two years back.
And here’s the punchline: He is the only captain to hold top three ICC trophies together – the ICC Champions Trophy, 50-over World Cup and T20 World Cup.
The 35-year-old captained India in 199 ODIs and went on to win 110 of them. He only lost 74. That gives him a win percentage of more than 55. No other India captain in the past has these many wins.
Even as a batsman, Dhoni never his captaincy effect his batting. He has scored 6633 runs in ODIs when at the helm with a staggering average of 54 and at a strike rate of 86. In T20Is as captain, he played 72 matches and won 41 of them. He also scored 1112 runs in that format as a captain.
While stats do matter in sports, it is also the way he conducted himself on the field that motivated the players to give their best. Captain the team that had Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan, Sehwag, Gambhir and Harbhajan in it, he won the ODI World Cup. Any other person would have been over-rawed by the occasion and the responsibility.
He also saw the growth of players like Virat Kohli, the front-runner to be the next ODI and T20 captain for India. During his tenure as captain, Dhoni saw the rise of current Indian team.
It’s not over yet. He is still available for selection as a wicketkeeper-batsman and we may see him during the upcoming series against England in the ODIs and T20Is.
The cricket field, even if Dhoni is there, will not be the same. We may see him setting fields as a wicket-kepeer but we all will miss his talks that one could here in the stump microphone. And the biggest missing will be nothing but the press conferences.
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