Indian captain MS Dhoni has turned 33 today.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a name no one is soon likely to forget in the annals of Indian cricket. After all, he is statistically India's most successful captain. He is also perhaps the most popular Indian cricketer today after Sachin Tendulkar.
Dhoni has captained India 52 times in Test cricket, winning 26 and losing just 14 of these tests. His home record in incredible, with 21 wins in 30 games, and just 3 losses. On both the overall and the home captaincy record, Dhoni leads the pack of Indian captains.
However, it is his away captaincy record which has taken a beating in the later stages of his captaincy. India lost 0-4 in England and then 0-4 again in Australia in 2011-12, marking an incredible low for Indian cricket as a whole after a decade of success abroad.
With the 0-8 scoreline, Dhoni's away record stands at 5 wins and 11 losses from 22 games. Take out the 0-8 scoreline and it is 5 wins and 3 losses, not so bad at all. After all, India's fabled captain Sourav Ganguly himself had a 11-10 win-loss record away from home.
Dhoni's crowning achievement (and no critic will ever begrudge him this) is India winning the 2011 World Cup. Apart from that, under Dhoni, India won the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup, won series in New Zealand and the West Indies, whitewashed Australia 4-0 at home (Australia's first whitewash in any series in 40 years), won the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013, and the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2008, 2010 and 2013. He also captained India to the final of the 2014 World Twenty20.
If Sourav Ganguly embodied a 'never give up' attitude, MS Dhoni embodies boldness, fearlessness and youth. Even at the age of 33, his demeanour on the pitch is relaxed, even jovial. His batting is violent - though he can bat at a relaxed tempo if the match situation demands so.
Dhoni is known as one of the best finishers in ODI cricket. Of late, he has developed a tendency to hold off a certain victory until the last over, then finish it in a flash as if it was just too easy.
Dhoni announced his appetite for big-hitting very early on in his career. In 2005, he made two extraordinary ODI centuries. The first came against Pakistan in Hyderabad, when he bludgeoned 148 off just 123 balls. The second was better - an unbeaten 183 against Sri Lanka in the 3rd ODI of a 7 ODI series - helping India chase down 298 with ease. At the time, this was the joint second highest score for an Indian in an ODI alongside Sourav Ganguly.
The 183 remains to this day, Dhoni's best innings ever in ODI cricket.
Unsurprisingly, MS Dhoni is trending on Twitter in India with #HappyBirthdayDhoni.
— MrBlack Fan Of Vijay (@MrBlackVijayFan) July 7, 2014
Interesting idea, Dhoni might actually follow it:
— Rashi Kakkar (@rashi_kakkar) July 7, 2014
— Anisha Alluru (@iAn1sha) July 7, 2014
To the man who made us all proud with his leadership! #HappyBirthdayDhoni
— Girish Kumar (@girishkumart) July 7, 2014
Sourav Ganguly brought in a generation of fresh blood who were undaunted by fearsome opposition, and not burdened with the weight of a history of poor performances abroad. MS Dhoni encouraged yet another new breed of youngsters - the Kohlis, the Pujaras - the who seem ready to take on the world after the retirement of India's greats.