Former India captain MS Dhoni closed the curtain on a stellar international career over the weekend. ANDRE HUISAMEN revisits five of his very best moments.
2011 World Cup triumph
Yuvraj Singh might have picked up the Player of the Tournament award and Sachin Tendulkar might have bowed out in style, but Dhoni’s grip on India winning their second World Cup was more than fitting. Chasing 275 for victory in front of their home fans, Dhoni entered when his team was in a spot of bother at 115-3. With the pressure mounting on the Indians and suspense building in the Wankhede Stadium, Dhoni rose to occasion to pick apart even the great Muttiah Muralitharan. He dragged India across the line in some style with a magnificent six that was sealed indefinitely in the memories of millions of cricket fans. Dhoni’s 91 not out off 78 balls also had him lift the man-of-the-match award alongside the biggest prize in the game.
Maiden ODI century
In only his fifth ODI, Dhoni was promoted up the order by then captain Sourav Ganguly and a new star was born in Indian cricket. Batting at No 3 and still fairly inexperienced in a star-studded team, Dhoni provided the first glimpse of his full and devastating potential as he went all out against a strong Pakistan bowling attack back in 2005. Dhoni struck a clinical 148 off only 122 deliveries as India posted a mammoth 356-9, but it was evident then that his unorthodox way of clearing the rope was going to become a regular sight in limited-overs cricket.
2007 T20 World Cup glory
The inaugural edition of the event presented a lot of first-time phenomena for many teams but it also provided the first taste of MS Dhoni, the leader. The Indian set-up was craving a new captain, with the capabilities to take the team to a new level after past failures. Dhoni took the mission in his stride and was the backbone of what became one of the most dangerous limited-overs teams ever as India comprehensively won the T20 World Cup in South Africa. Tactically, he proved that he was ahead of his time and it became the benchmark for the captain he turned out to be.
Attack on Akhtar
Frighteningly similar to his maiden ODI ton, Dhoni delivered a textbook innings against Pakistan in Faisalabad in 2005. In a high-scoring Test match, Dhoni smashed his way to his first century in red-ball cricket as he took on the fiery Shoaib Akhtar and managed to hit him to all corners of the ground with ease and charisma. Reaching 148 off only 153 at a strike rate of 96.73, Dhoni made it clear that he wasn’t going to play conservatively just because its Test-match cricket.
Double ton against the Aussies
India’s charge to become one of the best Test teams in the world was intensified with a 4-0 series whitewash of Australia in 2013. Not only was his leadership emphatic in that series, but Dhoni’s contribution with his maiden double ton in the first Test in Chennai set the tone for what was to come. Again, Dhoni wasn’t scared to take the attack to the Australian bowlers and picked them out with the greatest of ease as India piled on the runs thanks to his 224.