At a glittering ceremony held at Rashtrapati Bhavan on National Sports day, Mahendra Singh Dhoni became the second cricketer to have ever received the highest sporting recognition of the country – the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. And now, he has won the ICC ODI Player of the Year award.
The Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award, established in the year 1991-92 recognises sporting talent. It is definitely the highest honour that can be given to a sportsperson in India, and for Mahendra Singh Dhoni to get this at such a young age is indeed a huge achievement.
Dhoni beat off tough competition from team-mate Sachin Tendulkar, Australia fast bowler Nathan Bracken and Pakistan stalwart Mohammad Yousuf to take the prestigious award of the ICC ODI Player of the Year.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has had a dream journey since he made his cricketing debut. After announcing his arrival in cricket with his flamboyant stroke play, this young man went on to capture the hearts of millions of cricket fans in India. The small town boy from Ranchi went on to lead India to its first World Cup triumph since the Prudential Cup in 1983.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni represents the Indian youth of today – flamboyant, aggressive and confident. He loves bikes and cars; still wakes up to drink milk in the morning and in a Pepsi commercial says that he was never good in studies. But a certain transition took place once he was entrusted with responsibility. Since Dhoni has become the captain of the ODI and the 20-20 teams of India, he has grown from strength to strength and achieved greater heights. From being a young keeper batsman, he has gone on to become one of the most shrewd and dependable captains of today. His relaxed approach behind the stumps, confidence in all his players and his positive attitude has won him the respect of all his teammates and the ex-cricketers.
The noticeable difference in Dhoni since his debut has been the change in his batting approach. From being a dasher in the early part of his career to the finisher of the innings, he has succeeded in both his innings. The highlight of his career would definitely be the 20-20 World Cup win in Johannesburg. It was the perfect gift for a billion plus cricket crazy nation and made up for the World Cup debacle in the Caribbean islands.
Dhoni has become the poster boy of cricket in India and it is only fitting that he got the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award – an award that has gone to sportsmen who have had tremendous achievements in the international sector. Sachin Tendulkar is the only cricketer to have been awarded this recognition. The other men who have been given this honour include Vishwanathan Anand, Geet Sethi, Cdr. Homi D. Motivala and Lt. Cdr. P. K. Garg(Yachting), Karnam Malleshwari, Leander Paes and Nameirakpam Kunjarani (Joint), Jyotirmoyee Sikdar, Dhanraj Pillay, Pullela Gopichand, Abhinav Bindra, Anjali Ved Pathak Bhagwat and K. M. Beenamol, Anju Bobby George, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Pankaj Advani and Manavjit Singh Sandhu.
Dhoni also represents the dreams and the aspirations of the small town people. Players from the major cities and towns had a strong hold over Cricket but this generation is producing players which are coming from unheard of places. Ranchi, Baroda, Rae Bareali are some of the little towns that have produced talented cricketers for India. Dhoni has realized the dreams of many such youngsters who thought that it would not be possible.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni epitomizes the aspirations of millions of young cricketers in india today. He has shown that apart from having the talent he also has the cricketing acumen in him to make him a successful cricketer. Till we have a cricketer like Dhoni as captain of the side, you can be rest assured that Indian cricket is in safe hands. He has emerged as one of the greatest sportspersons of this country.