A tribute to M S Dhoni on his retirement from cricket

Author: 
Subhash Mathur

Editor's Note: Mahendra Singh Dhoni, a former member of the Indian international cricket team, retired from the sport in mid 2020. Widely regarded as one of the best wicket-keeper batsman and captain in the history of the game, his retirement caused tributes by his many fans to come pouring forth. We are privileged to feature a small collection here.

  1. MS Dhoni, Captain Cool by Prem Prakash Sharma
  2. Tribute to MS Dhoni by Jitendra Sanghvi
  3. Tribute to MS Dhoni by Shriprakash Rao
  4. MS Dhoni, our Captain by Rakshat Hooja
  5. Dhoni the Strategist by Subhash Mathur

MS Dhoni, Captain Cool

Prem Prakash Sharma (popularly known as PP) was born in Sikar, Rajasthan in 1959. He graduated in B.Sc. (PCM) from Government College, Neem ka Thana, Rajasthan. He went on to finish his education with a three-year law degree and masters in political science from University of Rajasthan.

PP joined Customs and Central Excise and was posted to several cities, international airports and sea ports across India in a career spanning 36 plus years.

PP retired on superannuation from Jaipur in January 2019 where he lives with his elderly parents, families of two brothers, his wife Sadhana, son Vivek and daughter Niharika. Both his children are excelling at their studies.

PP is a keen follower of cricket played the around the world, having himself played competitive games at various levels. His favourite pastime post-retirement is to look after his family, play golf and listen to some soul-searching music.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the former captain of the Indian Cricket Team in all three formats announced his retirement from international cricket as a shocking surprise to his fans on 15 August 2020 India's 74th Independence Day.

M S Dhoni batting for the Indian cricket team.

M S Dhoni batting for the Indian cricket team.

Dhoni posted a video on Instagram that contained pictures from both the best and the worst moments of his career with song ‘Mai Pal do Pal ka shayar hoon’ playing in the background. The video was captioned as "Thanks a lot for ur love and support throughout, from 1929 hrs consider me as Retired".

This unique way of declaring the retirement placed a full stop on all sorts of speculation about his retirement.

Dhoni story began on July 7 1981, when a boy was born in Ranchi, Bihar (now Jharkhand). His father Pan Singh worked in junior management positions in a Corporation. He studied at DAV Jawahar Vidya Mandir, Ranchi, where he initially excelled in badminton and football and was selected at district and club level in these sports.

Dhoni was a goalkeeper for his football team and was sent to play cricket for a local cricket club by his football coach as a wicket keeper.

No one expected a boy who played football as a goalkeeper would become a star in the cricketing world. Dhoni impressed many people with his wicket keeping His cricketing skills were impressive and he soon became the regular wicketkeeper at the Commando Cricket Club.

In 1997-98 season season Dhoni was picked up for Vinoo Mankad Trophy Under-16 Championship where he performed well.

From then, there was no looking back. After graduation, being an excellent sportsperson he was appointed as a TTE by the railways at Kharagpur from 2001-2003.

Dhoni had a mischievous side too. He and his friends covered themselves in white bed sheets and walked around in their complex late at night pretending to be ghosts to scare the guards.

Dhoni, informally known as Mahi, is a fan of Adam Gilchrist,. His childhood idols were Sachin Tendulkar, Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan and Nightingale of Bollywood Lata Mangeshkar.

Later on Dhoni was fortunate to play along with his childhood idol and legend Sachin Tendulkar with the Indian Cricket Team.

In his early career Dhoni scored a half century in his debut match at the Bihar Cricket Team scoring 68 not-out in the second innings against Assam. He scored his first century while playing against Bengal in 2000-2001 season. He scored five fifties in four Ranji matches.

His lower order hard hitting style came into limelight when he performed well for the Jharkhand Cricket Team.

Dhoni's talent was discovered by the BCCI's small-town talent-spotting initiative TRDW [Talent Research Development Wingof BCCI].

One ex-captain of Rajasthan Ranji Team also praised Dhoni during a discussion with me at Jaipur in 2002 and predicted that the hard hitting boy would be next batting star for the Indian Cricket Team.

Dhoni’s talent was recognised nationally in the 2003/04 season, as he was picked for the India A squad for a tour of Zimbabwe and Kenya.

In his fifth one-day international, Dhoni scored 148 at Visakhapatnam off only 123 deliveries. Dhoni's 148 a new record for the highest score by an Indian wicket-keeper.

M S Dhoni as wicket-keeper for the Indian cricket team.

M S Dhoni as wicket-keeper for the Indian cricket team.

With Dhoni having made a mark in the India A squad, he was naturally picked for the Indian ODI squad for the Bangladesh tour in 2004/05.

Dhoni did not have a great start to his ODI career, getting run out for a duck on debut. In spite of an average series against Bangladesh, Dhoni was picked again for the Pakistan ODI series.

In the second match of the series Dhoni's 148 surpassed the earlier record for the highest score by an Indian wicket-keeper, a record that he would go on to re-write before the end of the year.

Dhoni was chosen to lead India in first-ever World T20 in 2007. India won that Trophy with a victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in an intensely fought final on 24 September 2007.

Dhoni then became the second Indian captain to have won a World Cup in any form of cricket, after Kapil Dev.

Under Dhoni's captaincy, India won the 2011 ICC World Cup. In the final against Sri Lanka, chasing 275, Dhoni promoted himself up the batting order, coming before an in-form Yuvraj Singh.

When he came to bat, India needed more than six runs per over with three top-order batsmen already dismissed. His last ball six will remain dear in our hearts and minds forever.

For the 2015 World Cup held in Australia and New Zealand, Dhoni was named the captain of the 30-member squad by the BCCI in December 2014. Under his captaincy, India reached the semi-finals with ease, beating Bangladesh in the quarter-finals.

Dhoni joined the Chennai Super Kings for US$1.5 million in first IPL in 2008 making him the most expensive player in Season of IPL

Under his captaincy, Chennai Super Kings won the 2010, 2011 and 2018 Indian Premier League titles and the 2010 and 2014 Champions League T20 titles.

Under Dhoni’s captaincy, India topped the Test cricket rankings for the first time, in 2009. He is the most successful Indian Test captain with 27 Test wins, eclipsing Saurav Ganguly's record of 21.

Dhoni is the first Indian wicket-keeper to complete 4,000 Test runs. Dhoni's 224 against Australia in Chennai is the third highest score by an Indian captain. His mighty strokes included his own designed Helicopter Shot that went way beyond the boundary line for big sixes.

His 183 not-out against Sri Lanka in 2005 is the highest score by a wicket-keeper. Dhoni has the most stumpings (120) by any wicket-keeper in an ODI career and is so far the only keeper to pass 100 stumpings.

In 2011, Dhoni was conferred the rank of honorary Lieutenant-Colonel in the Indian Territorial Army for his contribution to cricket.

Dhoni is married to schoolmate, Sakshi, from DAV Jawahar Vidya Mandir, Shyamali. The wedding took place one day after the couple got engaged.

 
M S Dhoni with his wife Sakshi on their tenth marriage anniversary.

M S Dhoni with his wife Sakshi on their tenth marriage anniversary.

 

At the time of the birth of his daughter, Dhoni was in Australia as the captain of Indian team with 2015 Cricket World Cup. He decided not to travel back to India and was famously quoted saying that "I am on national duty, other things can wait."

Dhoni has not only been a star in the cricketing world but has also been recipient of multiple national honours such as Padma Shri (2009), Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award (2007-08) and Padma Bhushan (2018).

In 2016, a movie was made based on the life of MS Dhoni titled: M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story with Sushant Singh Rajput in the lead role.

Another web series cantered on his life and his times with the Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League was aired on Hotstar on 20 March 2019, titled Roar of the Lion.

The end of his international career has left a void in the cricketing world and he would always be in the memory of cricket lovers as Captain Cool.


Tribute to Dhoni

Jitendra Sanghvi joined the Customs Department in the year 1972 and took voluntary retirement in 2003 as Deputy Commissioner. He served as a faculty member at the National Academy of Customs and Central Excise Mumbai for 8 years. Upon voluntary retirement he started Sanjosh Consultants with two former colleagues. He was also a special counsel to Central Board of Excise and Customs. A keen sportsperson since childhood, he played cricket for his college, the Customs Cricket team and several clubs. He practises Vipassana and is a keen environmentalist.

It is said wicket keeping is the busiest port in the river of Cricket.

Indeed, Wicket keeper is the busiest person on the cricket field. Taking stance behind the wicket, near or behind depends on the pace at which the ball is bowled. Bending down before every delivery jumping high, diving forward or sideways and even in front of wicket to claim a bat -pad catch is expected from a keeper. Innovation of fielding placement further demanded keeper to dash across half of the ground to take a catch or to save a run.

As a youngster, I had rated Wally Grout to be the finest wicket keeper, as he collected the ball cleanly and with minimal impact on his palms.

Perfect skill!

But the game has changed and now, keeper has to be a good batsman too. That was the reason for Dhoni getting selected to play as a wicket keeper batsman.

 
M S Dhoni batting for the Indian cricket team.
 

It is a fact that Dhoni’s performance with bat was the main reason for Skipper Ganguly and selector More to prefer him over more skillful keepers. He was selected to play in Deodhar Trophy in 2004 and his towering sixes earned him India cap. He invented the famous Helicopter shot that was to hit out even yorkers for runs.

A safe delivery was no more safe!

Dhoni grabbed his opportunity with both hands. He shone as a batsman, playing attacking cricket; He became excellent finisher in one day games. Spectators loved his brand of cricket and that made him the darling of crowd.

India had returned home losing to Bangladesh and Sri Lanka in World cup in West Indies in 2007. The sentimental Indian fans were aghast that their heroes had failed to qualify for the next round.

The fans took to burning the effigies of cricketers on the streets and vandalized. The media wrote the obituary of Indian cricket. The sponsors cancelled their contracts!

 
M S Dhoni
 

BCCI reacted to the loss as expected. The stalwarts like Tendulkar, Ganguly and Dravid opted out for first T20 World Cup in South Africa in 2007. A young team was selected and Dhoni became the skipper.

The fortune favors the brave! The adage is a perfect hat that fits Dhoni.

ICC world cup began in a dicey manner. In the group match, India’s match against Scotland was rained out. Both the teams shared a point. India played the second match against Pakistan that ended up in tie. Pakistan was in command but faltered in the end. The match was decided on the basis of bowling at the stump. Pakistani bowler failed to hit the stump and match was won by India. India qualified in super 8. India defeated Pakistan in final as Pakistan faltered once again. India won t20 world cup. Dhoni had arrived.

M S Dhoni with the winners trophy after the Indian cricket team won the  ICC World Twenty20 2007.

M S Dhoni with the winners trophy after the Indian cricket team won the ICC World Twenty20 2007.

The loss of India in World Cup in West Indies had led to of loss of lucrative contracts by BCCI. None of the cricket playing nations could afford the monitory losses. From that day onwards, the stage managing of game of cricket set in.

ICC T20 World Cup was designed in a manner that all the 8 test playing nations got qualified. India had a real fright of getting eliminated. India was cash rich nation and all other countries tacitly allow it to control the game. Pakistan appeared to have faltered twice from a winning position was a bizarre event.

Over a period of time whoever “wrote the script”, the game of cricket became more and more of entertainment and less of sporting event. Many inexplicable results have occurred in last decade.

But India has produced spectacular results and Indian mascot was Dhoni!

Dhoni as a skipper was calm and collected. He was a great observer and thus could bat brilliantly, set fields strategically to put pressure on the opponent. With new tactics and strategies the India team won time and again and with that Dhoni became hero.

Dhoni winning the World Cup at Mumbai in 2011 was a remarkable achievement. He scored 91 runs and finished the game with a six! India had chased 275 runs despite losing stalwarts like Sehwag, Tendulkar and Kohli rather cheap.

One surprise that no one would explain; is that India has not won T20 world cup after 2007! The reason may be IPL. India has carved out prime time of two months every year from international calender.

IPL franchisees enter into contract with the players from all the cricket playing nations except Pakistan, It is the biggest money-making entity. Favored ones makes moolah, rest can simply yearn or accept their fate. The self-respect has to pay a price and several have paid.

I am amazed that Dhoni was yet again on the right side of good fate for he played for Chennai Super King since the onset of IPL. He has brought many a glory to his club and won the championship trophy 3 times.

A remarkable achievement.

His contribution as a batsman who can finish the game for his team and super quick behind the stump is simply awesome. I am a bit circumspect about his batting success and captainship as the times in which he has played is a bit grey as pundits suspect it to be era of stage-managing of cricket.

I admire him most as the wicket- keeper:

I have seen him waiting behind close to the stump, collecting ball well away outside the off stump, his hands move swiftly to the stump, waits for batsman to complete his stroke and if his leg moves up, even slightly in follow through, he would break the stump. The bemused batsman would find himself out!

I call it a keeper’s wicket.

Collecting a bouncing return from short of length is not easy. Dhoni would move a step or two in front to collect the ball cleanly and the next thing would surprise many including the batsman. He would throw the ball back hand to disperse the bails.

I call it keeper’s wicket!

I have found Dhoni to be very quick in collecting the ball and with a flash disturb the bails. He must be having a very high score of stumping!

When he was selected, he was not a top-class wicket keeper but with the time, he became a very reliable keeper

I have seen him instructing bowler to bowl a particular type of ball and often he would succeed. He has developed a great acumen in spotting the weakness just by standing behind the wickets.

A trait often found in great bowler!

India’s record was poor in DRS review and BCCI consistently avoided it. But I found Dhoni viewing the trajectory, the bounce and contact outside the off stump accurately. He has won many a DRS by his accurate reading.

The time and age have had its own impact on Dhoni’s game. He has lost his aggressive strokes to an extent and was seen building up his innings very slowly. Add to it, Indian team lost some batting power in the middle order and later order batting. Critics began to question his place in the team.

Saurav Ganguly had created a practice to pick the budding players and nurture them. Dhoni was one of those players who got selected with future of cricket in mind. Dhoni followed the same principle, resulting in the ending the carriers of some of the stalwarts.

Now, that Dhoni has yielded the mantle of captainship to Virat Kohli. The principle of selecting the young talent is pursued by Kohli as well. Dhoni could see the end of his career was in offing.

He took a wise decision to retire at a time when critic would ask “Why” and not “Why not”

It is undeniable fact that Mahendra Singh Dhoni would be considered one of the great cricketers of his era. Brilliant batting, calm, calculated Captain with phenomenal record of winning matches, superb running between wickets and superfast movement of hand as wicket keeper would remain etched in the mind of cricket fans world over.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni has earned his place in Hall of Fame!!!


M S Dhoni - a Tribute

Shriprakash Rao attended St. Xavier's School, Jaipur where he was a sports enthusiast, with particular emphasis on cricket and basket ball. He was also a good short-distance swimmer.

Rao joined the Department of Customs and Central Excise as Inspector, and retired as Additional Commissioner in 2015. He traveled to many nations as a trade negotiator for the Central Government on several occasions for various trade agreements.

Rao is an avid adventurer who has under taken trekking expeditions across Himalayas in India and Nepal. He fancies his visit to Iceland to see the Northern Lights to be the crown jewel of his travels. He is a keen photographer while traveling.

Rao loves driving and has under taken many long drives across India, initially on his motor cycle and later on by car. He is an avid reader and a movie buff, especially of classic westerns.

Rao presently lives in Jaipur with his wife.

I have been a keen student of cricket since my younger days. I have been always willing to witness cricket games at various levels. My keenness rubbed off to my son who also started to enjoy cricket played at all levels. One day somewhere in 2004 my son mentioned a cricketer by the name of Dhoni, with whom he was impressed on two counts viz. long hair & hitting sixes.

 
M S Dhoni with long, brown-streaked hair on his debut for the Indian cricket team in 2005.

M S Dhoni with long, brown-streaked hair on his debut for the Indian cricket team in 2005.

 

By the way, my son had also picked Irfan Pathan as a prospect by comparing him to Wasim Akram. His sudden obsession with a cricketer from an unknown state (Jharkhand) intrigued me. This also made my wife a fan of Dhoni as he was from Ranchi, where my wife had her education.

We started following Dhoni through state & zonal games. His ability to hit big sixes, especially without much effort really impressed me. Dhoni came across as humble guy, on seeing him mingle with players and fans. Dhoni continued his rise through the ranks by winning games for his side. After being included in the Indian side, Dhoni was suddenly made the captain to lead India in the maiden T20 World Cup in South Africa.

What followed was history. Not only India, won the cup but India got the best captain ever. The humbleness of Dhoni off the field and his on field cold strategy endeared him to all. The dead pan face of Dhoni, even in trickiest times on the field is seen to be believed.

Dhoni joining the Territorial Army showed an aspect of him, which is rarely seen in men, let alone sportspersons. Though many a cricketer have come from the Services, Dhoni must be the only civilian, who opted for a career in the Services. The nation shall always be in awe of him. Dhoni is a role model for the coming generations.

 
M S Dhoni, captain of the Indian cricket captain team, being conferred the rank of honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army by Army Chief General V.K. Singh on Oct 9, 2011.

M S Dhoni, captain of the Indian cricket captain team, being conferred the rank of honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army by Army Chief General V.K. Singh on Oct 9, 2011.

 

MS Dhoni, our Captain

Rakshat Hooja is a post-graduate in sociology. He loves watching sports, reading about and discussing politics, playing with his dogs, and admiring greenery.

"You will always be my captain." Virat Kolhi echoed a generation of Indians as he acknowledged the role of M S Dhoni in transforming Indian cricket.

M S Dhoni

Dhoni was a special cricketer. Yes he won the World Cup, the Champions Trophy, the T20 World Cup, Asia Cups, led India to the top of the Test Cricket rankings etc. He is on a pedestal of his own not because of the trophies he won for us, but for the fact that he cemented the belief that India was expected to win. If Dhoni was at the crease that belief went up exponentially.

For a generation that grew up under the shadow of Javed Miandad's infamous last ball six off Chetan Sharma, a people who supported the Indian team everyday knowing it will fail at the last hurdle, a nation that found solace in the 1983 victory, and applauded great individual performances even if they were for a losing cause, a country that counted test victories not series victories on foreign soil, what Dhoni's leadership provided was beyond our wildest dreams. The Indian cricket team under him answered a nations collective prayers.

I had the fortune to watch Dhoni join the Indian team as a swashbuckling long haired kid and retire as a seasoned veteran. Below are three memories that came to my mind when MS announced his retirement from international cricket.

October 31, 2005, Jaipur - The debut of the helicopter shot!

The Sawai Mansingh Stadium was full. Sitting in the crowded stands, the atmosphere was electric. Sri Lanka had set India a stiff, for that era, target of 299. A young kid whose name one had to read on the giant scorecard to remember had walked in for India at number three. And he was hitting sixes and fours at will against an attack led by Chaminda Vas and Muttiah Muralitharan! The target was turned into a mockery, the crowd went wild, and Dhoni scored 183 not out, and a star was born.

The helicopter shot became Dhoni's signature and one of the most enduring sights of Indian cricket is his tournament winning 'helicopter' six in 2011!

Hair that won over a President

That was the neatly trimmed Captain Dhoni. In his early days his hairstyle was as famous as his cricket. Even across the border. In an era when India still played matches in Pakistan, Dhoni had helped India win a ODI and in the process won the man of the match award. I was watching at home on a TV. Pervez Musharraf walked onto the field and proceeded to talk about MS's hair, advising him not to cut it despite what many placards in the crowd requested. There was a huge cheer.

Legend has it that Musharraf is a big fan of Dhoni. He is once said to have asked Ganguly, how did he find Dhoni. To which Ganguly jokingly replied, he saw him walking near Wagah and dragged him across!

Last innings

Dhoni's last international knock was in India's losing effort against New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup semi-final. Dhoni could not get India across the line. Many negative reviews of this knock were written. But it is one of my favourites. I had closed the TV, expecting India to lose. But I could not resist and put on the match on my mobile. Dhoni batted and batted without emotion or fear. Belief came back and a friend of mine were riveted to the small screen. It turned out to be a bridge too far. Had Dhoni not been run out in the 49th over, with 26 more needed, who knows what could have been?

Form considering failure as inevitably to settling for nothing less that absolute success - that is the change that MS Dhoni brought about.

M S Dhoni gave a nation belief, joy and victory. Equally important, he gave us entertainment and the world a role model. I wish him the best for his second innings. But guys and gals, he is still playing the IPL and I certainly look forward to watching him.


Dhoni the Strategist

Subhash Mathur was born and brought up in small towns in Rajasthan. During his school and college education at Jaipur, he was keenly involved in sports, journalism and public speaking. His civil services career has given him a platform for spreading his ideas about modernising tax administration to benefit the common man. Post retirement he is devoting his energies, along with his wife Tilak, to public and humane causes.

Dhoni knitted a team of achievers thorough sheer perseverance to bring the best out of his players and consistency guidance. He was clever batsman a strategist on the field and lead the team with imagination and led from the front.

As an astute captain Dhoni created unimaginable situations from where India came from behind to win. Undoubtedly he was the best captain over two decades taking on sides with higher ranking and better talent. Not only he will he missed but often remembered with pride.

 
M S Dhoni
 

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