- Dr Arun Swadi
All good things have to come to an end. So is India's famous captain and wicket keeper Mahendra Singh Dhoni's international career. He was a living legend and probably as good and as valuable as Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, and most liked cricketer God Sachin Tendulkar.
When it comes to statistics, he was greatest ever Indian captain. His records speaks themselves. Two World Cups of different format, a Champion's Trophy,and number one ranking in test cricket make him one and only one to do the cricket grand slam. That is Mahi our massiha who turned bunch of good cricketers to champions.
But that is not the only achievement he will be remembered for. His value was much more than that. He was great ambassador of cricket in general and particularly for the country he represented. He dealt every issue with dignity, maturity and calmness. He was always cool as cucumber when matter boiled up, be it on the ground or off it. Not once he let the lid come off with only one possible exception in a game in IPL where he came out of the dressing room to argue with umpire.
No wonder he could take difficult decisions with clear mind and prove them right. Bringing Joginder Sharma ahead of Harbhajan Singh for the last over in T20 World Cup was masterstroke and so was promoting himself in another epic World Cup final to clinch it with a six. He was always a thinking man behind the wicket making calculated moves and taking risks too. And he was excellent wicket keeper too.
He will be always remembered for his stumping. I think he brought new dimensions to art of stumping. That he used to do in a flash has become his trademark. I wonder whether anybody was better than him in this aspect in international cricket. He was very safe catcher too who rarely did any acrobatics to prove his point.
As a batsman he was really top class in red ball cricket though he was not exactly copybook but everybody knows he was white ball wonder, the greatest finisher of limited overs cricket. The way he chased the target was breath taking. Many a times it started with slow beginning but Mahi used to gear up at the right time as if he knew the eventuality.
One wonders whether God had handed over the script to him. Rarely he failed in chase. Sadly one noteworthy failure was in last World Cup where he got run out which incidentally sealed India's fate. That also became his last tryst with destiny.
Dhoni was power hitter since beginning and he remained so till the end. However he began building his inning slowly in last leg of his career which sometimes sent jitters in the dressing room. But invariably, he got the team to the brink and saved them. It was only because he read the game so very well.
He had many skyscraper shots in his armoury but the one he discovered was helicopter shot which was an answer to sand shoe crushers. I guess he discovered it while playing Malinga who was difficult preposition to hit for his low arm delivery. Most memorial shot which will itch in our memory will be of course a six over midwicket at Wankhede.
Dhoni was nearing forty which for any sportsman is a time to get slow on reflexes. While his keeping remained top class in World Cup, his batting did show some cracks. Yet he was better than many who played for India thereafter. While he has taken retirement from international cricket, he will continue to play IPL, may be for three years.
That means we have not seen last of Dhoni yet. But the fact remains India's best captain in all three formats and best white ball captain in the world won't be donning Indian colours. He was inspiration to millions, a true definition of captain and real meaning of sportsmanship. No body can fill in his shoes. Good Bye Mahi.