Mahendra Singh Dhoni:2

For his consistent performances with his bat and gloves, he was in the center of attraction for Indian selectors. He was only the second wicket keeper after Farooq Engineer to be considered as the most prolific attacking batter. He is a flamboyant batter with wonderful stroke playing all around and up above the galleries. He was selected for the India A tour to Zimbabwe and Kenya. In those times, both teams were performing well and this it is like a challenge for the entire India A team. Dhoni performed brilliantly behind the wickets.  In the next India A tour, it was a tri-nation tournament and he showed his class in that tournament.  In seven matches, he had an average of more than 72. He scored in crunch situations in these one day tournaments. He scored heavily with lightening bat speed and also instrumental in making brilliant wicket keeping behind the wicket.

Dhoni was finally selected for international one day cricket team of India for the tour of Bangladesh in 2004-05. His wicket keeping competitors is Dinesh Kartik and Partiv Patel, both came up the ranks from junior level cricket and both showed signs of attacking game play and some brilliant wicket keeping. In the main match, he was ran himself out for a duck. It was also evident that many great player started their international career from duck. Players like Sir. Vivian Richards, Shewag who started their career with duck, eventually became notorious for their extended hitting and high scoring. After a disappointing Bangladesh debut series, Dhoni was selected again against Pakistan who was touring India. In the second match he scored 148 of just 123 balls and India won that match convincingly. It was the highest score by Indian wicket keeper batter and he created the record and showed the glimpse of his master class in that match. It was an eye opener innings for the entire cricketing communities all around the world. He started his career with this high class knock. In the ensuing series, Sri Lanka came to India. In the third one day international, India was chasing a challenging target set by SriLanka. Sachin departed early and Dhoni was promoted to first down in the batting order.  He scored 184 off 145 balls and became the highest individual scorer as wicket keeper batsman in one day internationals all over the world. Eventually he amassed 346 runs and man of the series.

In the ensuing series, tour to Pakistan, Dhoni scored three fifties and helped India to win the ODI series in Pakistan for the first time in the history. With his unfailing performance, he became number one ODI batsman in ICC ranking for the first time on April 20, 2006. His idle Adam Gilchrist had an admirable series against Bangladesh and he became number one and Dhoni slipped to second spot in ODI ICC rankings for batsman. In the year 2006, India ODI performance reached bad to worse and team suffered a slump and was in losing side more than ever. In these times, the saving grace was the batting form of Dhoni as from time to time he had tried his best to score fifties to save India from disappointing losses. India performed testing to worse in Champion Trophy, DLF cup and series against South Africa. World Cup 2007 was nearing and India’s prospects of winning there were slim. There were coaching issues of Chappell and its peculiar methods of coaching which were not supported by many. It seemed that he had implemented the divide and rule policy. Prior to the World Cup. India hosted the West Indies and Sri Lanka, and defeated both teams in that series. That made the hum and roar that India was back into reckoning of the world cup. The principal problem with the team at that time was the disturbing dressing rooms and there was a yawning gap among players due to some not so favorable coaching standards. In 2007 world cups in the West Indies, India received shocking losses to SriLanka and Bangladesh respectively. Dhoni scored disappointing docks in both the matches. India received quick exits from the world cup. In the last 20 years, it was the most disappointing finish for team India in world cup. Dhoni’s house was vandalized and stoned. There were protests all over India against players.

Surprisingly, in the resulting series just after world cup, against Bangladesh, India won the series and Dhoni received the man of the series award for his exceptional on time need batting performances.  Dhoni came back from his batting slump with style. It was the sign of revival of team India. In the mean time unsuccessful coach Chapell’s contract was not renewed and Dravid left captaincy of team India following a disappointing show at the world cup. It was the most dismal performance by the team to India in world cup after 1983 Prudential World Cup wins. Dhoni became captain for T20 world cup to be played in South Africa in September 2007. In this mini world cup, being played at the same year as that of the world cup. India won the final beating Pakistan in a thriller and in this match the world saw the glimpses of smart decision making on the part of Captain Cool Dhoni. It was the second world cup win after famous 1983 Prudential World Cup victories. India had to wait for 24 years in order to win an ICC world cup tournament.  Though it was T20 world cup win still the taste of victory was sweet as ever. People who were opposing and shouting slogans during world cup loss at West Indies could not believe this unexpected win. People began to forget the shameful loss of the world cup and they replaced this with this fantastic T20 world cup wins. The team was without the so called seniors of that time, Dravid, gradually and Sachin and still it performs up above par and won matches at fast tracks of South Africa. India won tightly fought final match of T20 world Cup against Pakistan in September 24, 2007. Dhoni took his first wicket in an ODI match in 30th September 2009 against West Indies. He bowled Travis Dowlin of the West Indies. Against Australia, he scored a century and followed by a well compiled 70s in the next match to bring home the series. In 2009, he holds the top ICC ODI ranking batsman for several months. In the next year, Hussey wrested this position from him.

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