Biswajit Manna

If you are a cricket fan, irrespective of your nationality, then you must have heard the name – MS Dhoni. He is not just a cricketer. He has set an example of how hard work and determination to never give up can take you to places. The man from a small town of Jharkhand, called Ranchi would have never thought of giving India two world cup titles, first-ever Indian captain to do so. Even now it seems like a fairy tale for many Dhoni lovers. There is still so much interest in Dhoni that one can fathom the fact why a Bollywood movie named MS Dhoni – The untold story was made after his life around cricket. He is the most successful wicket-keeper batsman that India never had.

However, things began to change for Dhoni. Like any other human being, he is aging day by day and his reflexes too are not as good as they were before. In last year’s ICC World Cup in England, we saw a version of Dhoni which we never have seen before – slow and clumsy. He was unable to connect the bat with ball. In the rain-hit semi-final match that dragged on for two days at Manchester, India lost to New Zealand. India’s hope of repeating the 2011 history was all but gone. A lot of critics and fans assumed that was Dhoni’s last international outing for India. And it remains so! Since that infamous semifinal match, Dhoni was not seen in any competitive cricket match. He was preparing for the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020 and supposed to lead Chennai Super Kings (CSK). But due to the spread of coronavirus, the tournament is looking uncertain.

5th April is a significant date for MS Dhoni. 15 years year ago on this day, he scored his first international century during an ODI against Pakistan at Visakhapatnam. He played blistering innings of 148 from just 123 balls. A young lad of 23 years old from Ranchi marked his arrival at the international level. Even though Men in Blue lost that series against Pakistan, but they had found a gem called MS Dhoni – a wicket-keeper who can bat. This knock of 148 against arch-rival Pakistan changed everything for Dhoni. He became an overnight sensation since that match. He went on to scale cricketing success which will be always remembered in the cricket history of India.

Former Indian pacer Ashish Nehra was one of the players who played in that ODI in Visakhapatnam. He has seen closely how Dhoni built his innings. In a chat with Times of India, Nehra said, “That innings got the team to believe that we too could have a prolific wicket-keeper batsman. Dhoni didn’t have a great time in initial matches. But when a confident man like him gets an opportunity and cashes in, then it’s hard to pull him back. That inning was like he had tasted blood and he yearned for more.

This observation by Nehra aptly sums up the story of that historic day. With IPL looking uncertain, let’s hope we get to see him bat in at least the next edition of IPL.

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