In July 1981, a boy was born in Ranchi to Paan Singh and Devki Devi. Fondly called “Mahi” by everyone, he studied at the DAV Jawahar Vidya Mandir School. Throughout his childhood, “Mahi” was interested in sports. He played Football, Hockey, Badminton and Table Tennis. Then in 1994, he donned the wicket keeper’s gloves for the first time on the request of the school sports instructor who thought that it would be easier for a football goal keeper to keep wickets and fill the void in the school team for a wicket keeper. The rest they say is history, and football’s loss turned out to be cricket’s gain and Mahendra Singh Dhoni emerged as the cricketing sensation of the next generation.
After making his debut for India, he scored a blistering 148 against Pakistan at Vishakapatnam, leading to the country’s victory. It was this innings that made people sit up and notice him for the first time. That was not it. A few months later, in October 2005, he scored a sensational 183 against Sri Lanka to break Adam Gilchrist’s record for the highest score by a wicket keeper in one day internationals.
As time went by, MSD proved himself to be a cool and thinking cricketer. He showed the ability to grasp the requirements of a situation quickly and established himself as a far more reliable asset for India than his other peers like Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif.
Over the years, Dhoni has not only showed that he could destroy any bowling attack with his big hits and powerful strikes, but also that he could dig his heels and defend if a situation demanded so. This phase resulted in the transformation of Mahendra Singh Dhoni from only a one day cricketer to also an asset in the test arena.
The greatest side to the phenomenon called MSD came in the year 2007, when this young cricketer was given the responsibility to captain an inexperience Indian side in the T20 World Cup. No one expected this team to perform, but Dhoni was able to bring out the best in these cricketers and India went on to win the world cup creating one of India’s most glorious moments since the 1983 World Cup Victory. Since then, Dhoni has taken over as the captain of the ODI team as well and is also the deputy to Anil Kumble in the test format. He has brought about a new brand of cricket. Under him India has become more aggressive than even before. If Saurav Ganguly brought aggression to Indian Cricket for the first time and Rahul Dravid brought about a sense of calmness in the Indian dressing room then MSD has taken aggression and coolness to another level. It is his ability to be calm in pressure situations and still be able to play aggressive cricket that is yielding results for Indian Cricket.
Dhoni’s success on the field has also brought him laurels of the field. From brands queuing up for endorsements to Bollywood constantly trying to woo him, his rugged looks combined with his boy next door image has made him a favorite amongst Indian fans. What has however been great to see is that all this has not affected Dhoni. He is still soft spoken and down to earth and his conduct on and off the field has been exemplary.
Dhoni is part of the generation which will replace the golden generation of Indian cricket. Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman and Kumble are all on the last legs of their career. The great thing for India is that it has probably found one great star to replace them. Mahendra Singh Dhoni could turn out to be India’s most successful captain and probably one of the best wicket keeper batsmen that the world has ever seen.
All in all, I look forward to seeing the sensation called “Mahi” take his rightful place as one of India’s Greatest.
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