MS Dhoni entered the stage of International Cricket as a big-hitting wicket-keeper batsman but left the Cricketing world as an Ultimate legend of the game. Not only he conquered titles, but finished his career as one of the greatest ever to play the game. Undoubtedly, he is still India's best limited-overs captain of all time. Dhoni helped India reach the peak of Cricket which they were trying to reach for decades. On July 7, 2023, MS Dhoni will turn 42 but before that, we'll have a look at the top 10 greatest moments of him as India's limited overs captain.
MS Dhoni made his ODI debut on 23 December 2004, against Bangladesh in Chittagong. In his first four international innings, Dhoni managed a combined 22 runs. On debut, he was out for a duck. At Vizag, playing in his fifth ODI against Pakistan, he was promoted to No. 3 and blasted 148 off 123 for his maiden international century, filled with 15 fours and four sixes. Dhoni scored his highest limited-overs score against Sri Lanka, an unbeaten 183 off 145 balls, and helped India win the game. The inning was described in Wisden Almanack (2006) as 'Uninhibited, yet anything but crude'. The innings set various records including the highest individual score in ODI cricket in the second innings, a record only broken after seven years by Shane Watson.
He played his first T20I a year later against South Africa. In 2007, he took over the ODI captaincy from Rahul Dravid and was also selected as the T20I captain of India. MS Dhoni has scored 10,773 runs in the ODI format in 297 innings at an average of 50.57 including 10 centuries and 73 half-centuries.
Dhoni took charge of India's limited-overs side. India went into the tournament having played only one T20I till then. After memorable victories against England, South Africa, and Australia, it came down to defending 12 off the final over of the tournament, against Pakistan. Dhoni took a weird but interesting decision to bring medium pacer Joginder Sharma, who helped India win by five runs.
Dhoni's India clinch their first and only ODI series victory in Australia. A tri-series also featuring Sri Lanka, India won the best-of-three final against the hosts and seal victory with a match to spare.
India won another tri-series tournament under Dhoni. Again, the Men in Blues met the hosts in the final. Dhoni took four catches and a stumping as India thumped Sri Lanka by 81 runs.
Twenty-eight years after Kapil Dev's men claimed the biggest title in cricket, MS Dhoni's men lifted it. India were chasing 275 in the final and lost the huge wicket of Sachin early in the game. Gambhir batted at his peak and gave India a perfect stage to chase the total. The captain promoted himself to No. 5 and scored 91 and took India home with an iconic six.
The Final of the 2013 Champions Trophy turned into a t20 match after rain affected the game. India put up only 129. A famous quote was shared on various social media platforms and amongst the fans after that final. "God is not coming to save us," Dhoni tells his team before going to defend their low total. "If you want to win this trophy, we will have to fight it out." India keeps England to 124. Dhoni became the first captain to claim all three ICC trophies: World Cup, World T20, and Champions Trophy.
Despite losing the 2014 World T20 final to Sri Lanka, Dhoni's leadership has always been about resilience and determination to bounce back rather than just a few moments of glory. India dispatched stronger teams such as Pakistan, Australia, and Bangladesh with relative ease and entered the semifinals against South Africa undefeated. During the semifinal, Dhoni's nature as a selfless teammate was on display when he had the chance to finish the match with India needing 1 run from 9 balls, but played three dot balls to give the strike back to Virat Kohli for a deserved finish. However, the second T20 crown eluded India when they lost to a superior Sri Lankan team in the final.
India were down 4-0 in the five-match ODI series in Australia but Dhoni's team came back strongly in the T20s and won it b 3-0. An important T20I series victory against a powerhouse nation as it was also a World T20 year.
It was the first time the tournament featured T20s instead of ODIs. India had a target of 121 in 15 overs by Bangladesh in the final, and Dhoni finishes it off with 20 not out of 7.
One of the most interesting finishes to a game of cricket one could imagine. After hitting consecutive fours, Bangladesh needed two to win off three balls to knock India out of the tournament. They had three wickets in hand and the experienced Mushfiqur and Mahmadullah were batting. Hardik Pandya was bowling and three wickets came in three balls. The last one came from Dhoni when he completed a run-out which helped the Men in Blues win by one run.
Dhoni finished his captaincy career on a high note with a victory against New Zealand at home. The five-match series was level at 2-2 going into the last game. India sealed it 3-2 by bowling the visitors out for 79.