On 16 October 1978, when a youthful all-rounder with gifted fast bowling from Haryana made it to the International Cricket scene, the Indian Cricket was never to be the same again. Back then, Indian Cricket was influenced by cricketers from metros such as Mumbai and Delhi.
But all these changed and changed for the good with the appearance of Kapil Dev. Kapil Dev was not only the first genuine fast bowler from India, but he was also the first cricketer who emerged as a great gun despite coming from a small town in India.
The success of Kapil Dev not only inspired many to take up fast bowling seriously, but his role in winning India its first World Cup gave so much hope. The message was clear – if you work hard, then you can also break into the International Cricket scene.
Only 32 months after Kapil Dev made his debut, another World Cup-winning Skipper was born in a relatively unknown city of Ranchi – Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Kapil was the leader in making the small town India wake up and believe that you can play Cricket if you work hard. On the other hand, MS Dhoni was an example for the 21st Century Indians about what could be acquired if your processes are in place.
The success of MS Dhoni is a symbol of why one should never give up despite not being in the best of the circumstances. He was a Ticket Collector in Kharagpur, who was piling huge runs but was not getting a chance in the National Side. Hence, what did he do? Well, all that he did was not giving up at all!
His power hitting and long curls – a favorite of masses and former Pak President
The extraordinary cricketer continued to manage all ups and downs, and on 23rd December 2014 (15 years before) his dream to play for India was fulfilled. Yes, the boy with always a smiling face from Jharkhand made his long-craved debut for the country. And just like when Kapil Dev came, the Indian Cricket was not the same again, the long hair of MS Dhoni was also not the same that you would see during those days. But it was also true that MS Dhoni was not any other Indian Cricketer. Yes, he was differently special, and his long brown hair was a symbol of it.
Akash Chopra once recalled an incident when he had asked him to get rid of those long curls as it was not a regular thing in the Indian Cricket. But the reply of Dhoni suited his personality, and he said: “Maybe everyone will emulate his style one day.”
And that did not have to take much time to happen. He smashed opposition bowlers for 143 and 183 within a year of his ODI Debut. He became a hero by shell shocking Pakistan during 2005-06 winters.
Not only the masses were mighty impressed with him, and the fan also included Pakistan General Parvez Musharraf. He went ahead and even requested MS Dhoni not to trim his long hair as he stated. “You look good in this hair cut! Don’t get a hair-cut!”
The calm persona of Dhoni brought a sea of changes in Indian Cricket
2007 was a notable year in the career of MS Dhoni as he had failed with the bat in India’s poor show during the 50-overs World Cup. He was named as the Skipper of the Team for the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa.
Dhoni was not another run of the mill cricketer as he had an appetite to do much more, but with calm and cool temperament. His gift of analyzing game situations and staying calm intense moments when even the best minds crack was special. The T20 World Cup 2007 was the first example of that! The fearless unit was led from the front by MS Dhoni ad did the extraordinary as they went on to seize the Trophy. And the decision to throw the final over to Joginder Sharma is now a part of folklore.
Dhoni brought himself a lot of calm, especially being a leader, a feat that was so missed in the Indian Cricket during tense match circumstances. Not only MS Dhoni was a cool and calm customer to deal with, but he was also one of the best finishers during 2006-2015.
And then the Indian Cricket Team started winning tournaments after tournaments. The 2007 T20 World Cup was followed by the 2011 World Cup win in India and then the 2013 Champions Trophy in England.
The calm demeanor and unrelenting wish to lead from the front were on full display during the 2011 World Cup. He went in before the Player of the Series Yuvraj Singh and played one of the best innings to end the 28-year drought for the World Cup since 1983. The coveted World Cup came back to India on 2nd April 2011.
He showed trust in youngsters and focused on team building
Did you know that there is a reason why current generation heroes such as Virat Kohli, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, and others consider MSD as their forever leader? It is because Captain Cool believed in giving the youngsters a long rope. He always looked to build a team, and that can’t be done when you are always changing and chopping players.
And MS Dhoni also insisted on continuing with the bunch of players that he had faith in. When they burst into the scene, the likes of Ravindra Jadeja, Rohit Sharma, and Ishant Sharma were largely inconsistent. But MSD continued with them! He gave Rohit Sharma the opener slot in ODIs in 2013 at a time when his form was not good. But MSD insisted on him playing at the top spot. And, the rest, as they say, is history!
Out of all the trophies and tournaments that Mahendra Singh Dhoni won, the 2013 Champions Trophy has to be his most cherished accomplishments. It is because he did not only win it with the players that he had nurtured and supported, but the set up also become the cornerstone of the existing Indian One-Day International. After that famous 2013 win, India had struggled to breach the final barrier. And since then, the fortunes of MS Dhoni as a batsman also waned with the progression of the decade.