MS Dhoni turns 39 on Tuesday, July 7. He has not played international cricket for nearly a year but he still remains one of the most-talked-about and most-loved cricketers. See what makes this World Cup-winner peerless?
While Dhoni is celebrating his birthday away from all the spotlight, it’s a showy affair on social media which is abuzz with #HappyBirthdayMSDhoni posts. His former teammates and the current ones sent out late-night tweets, wishing him on a special day. One of them has even composed and released a song to mark the occasion.
It’s been almost a year since Dhoni played competitive cricket at the highest level and his brazen salt and pepper looks in rare appearances on Sakshi Dhoni’s social media stories are only adding to the speculations around his international future.
“January tak mat poocho,” Dhoni had said when asked about his future last year. It’s July and there’s still nothing from his side except the strongly-worded rebuttals of retirement rumors.
Some of his fans and former teammates hope ‘he plays for another 10 years’ but Dhoni is certainly in the twilight of his international career. As the cricket world celebrates his 39th birthday, here’s a look at 7 things that have made Dhoni the paisa-vasool, fan-favorite cricketer that he is.
The Dhoni computer
As early as his first tournament as captain, Dhoni showcased he is not just all about his batting and wicket-keeping skills. It was the ‘computer’ on top of his shoulders that elevated his status in international cricket.
With a formula that may backfire for others and often looks inexplicable from the outside, Dhoni went on to lead India to some of the finest victories, including the much-celebrated 2011 World Cup.
When Dhoni is in the middle: Guaranteed nail-biters
The calm and calculated approach reflected in his batting as well. While Dhoni began as an aggressive batsman who would take the attack to opposition bowlers from the word go, he evolved into the finisher of today who likes to play mind games with the opposition bowlers.
When Dhoni’s in the middle, all hope is not lost. Even when the task seems improbable like it did in his last international appearance, TV screens are not switched off when he is out there with “his computer out”.
The whirlwind wicketkeeper
Dhoni did not begin his career as the whirlwind gloveman that he evolved to be. “Questions were asked about wicket-keeping skills”.
However, Dhoni worked hard and made sure batsmen thought twice about stepping out or fretted when they lost balance while playing a shot when he was handling the glovework.
Not to forget the weird angles from which he hits the wickets that many in the recent past have found difficult to replicate.
The master, the stump mic and his spinners
Spinners are certainly missing MS Dhoni behind the stumps in his time away from the sport. From R Ashwin to Kuldeep Yadav, Dhoni’s impact on the current generation of Indian spin bowlers is well-documented.
Dhoni’s reading of the game and the subsequent pieces of one-line advice to the spinners have given rise to some of the most enjoyable stump mics chatters over the years.
Even a Marathi version of it was heard last year when Dhoni was giving a piece of advice to Kedar Jadhav, someone who attributes his bowling career to the former captain.
The Dhoni Review System
Dhoni was not in favor of the Decision Review System for quite some time in international cricket. While other international teams incorporated the technology, India resisted it for a considerable period.
However, it was no surprise that Dhoni would go on to ace the DRS after India began embracing the technology. Dubbed as ‘Dhoni Review System’ by his fans, the Ranchi hero gets DRS calls right more often than not.
More importantly, Dhoni can influence his teammates, including captain Virat Kohli, into making the right DRS calls.
“Leg stump ke bahar ja rahi hai. Review kharab ho jayega aur kuch nahin. (It is missing a leg stump. We will waste one review; nothing else),” Dhoni was heard saying during India’s tour of West Indies in 2017.
Simple and sharp.
The post-match pearls of wisdom
The cricket world has always been fascinated by Dhoni’s thinking process. Given that he largely chooses to stay away from interactions with the press and social media conversations, post-match analyses have been the only window to the Dhoni computer.
Be it lamenting about lack of athletic ability in the side to commenting about the quality of opposition while assessing a 70-all out Chepauk track, Dhoni keeps it straightforward and simple.
In the post-match press conferences, better stay away from questions about his future and retirement.
Dhoni has over 10,000 ODI runs. He has won all the ICC trophies that are there to be won as captain. However, Dhoni has made sure he has things to keep him occupied and distracted while he is not on the field.
Be it love for his family or passion for superbikes and supercars (lately tractors), Dhoni has given his fans a lesson in work-life balance.
Wishing Dhoni a Very Happy Birthday!