It is already 7th of July in India as I start penning down this article. We may have lost the game but the series is still alive. Also the fact that you got runs under your belt must be a huge boost for your self confidence. As you turn 37 today, I would like to relive the moments that made us feel lucky to be a part of an era that witnessed you taking Indian cricket to great heights.
I was just 7 years old when you made your debut for India. A small town boy walking in at No.7 with long hair, the innings didn’t last long though. However, it was the 148 against Pakistan that announced your arrival at the international stage. Who knew this Ranchi boy would turn out to be the heartthrob of a billion people in the upcoming decade.
If that innings was a start to the glorious career, the 183 in a high profile run chase against Sri Lanka was a statement that you were here to stay. An unorthodox wicketkeeper batsman who could hit sixes at his own will. The long term search for a gloveman had ended finally. Becoming only the second Indian batsman to be at No.1 position in the ICC rankings.
Rising above the ranks is fascinating but becoming a fan favourite is another thing. The notion of you drinking four litres of milk daily led to many kids following the suit of drinking milk. So did your long hair. What was more compelling was that you came from a small place and went on to conquer every world title. It came as a huge inspiration to young budding cricketers not belonging to big towns.
Your captaincy has always been compared to the Midas touch. Right from your first ICC tournament as captain i.e. the WT20 2007, you proved your excellent decision making skills at the centre stage. As Gary Kirsten would describe, “I would go to war with Dhoni by my side“. The calm demeanour you maintained in every pressurised situation during the 2011 World Cup was amazing. Finishing it with a six in a striking pose, heaving a sigh of relief and not forgetting to pick up the stumps. Classic Dhoni.
2013 was a golden year for you. Scoring an exhilarating double hundred in Chennai, just when people had written you off in the longer format. Whitewashing Australia at home was a huge victory. Many don’t speak much about the 2013 Champions Trophy triumph. The dominance displayed by a new look team that had recently underwent transition. Also, the fact that the Indian cricket was going through a poor phase after the spot fixing controversy in the IPL.
A Test win at Lords with a team where half the members were traveling to England for the first time. The achievements are countless and the humbleness is unmatched. You have had your tough times but every time there has been a setback, you’ve allowed your actions on the field to do the talking. No other player in the game has shown this kind of fluency in every department he can contribute in.
Stepping up when the situation demands has been a highlighting part of your career. The sight of you running towards the stumps and beating the batsman is something no fan will ever forget. Early wickets to unsettle the batsman, we are aware that you can still bring us back in the game. Or 15 runs required in the last over, you know 9 out of 10 times, you shall get you through.
As the clock ticks, so does the time. We are well aware that sooner, you might not be around in the Indian dressing room. The 2019 World Cup as many say is going to be your swan song. With less than one year to go, the prospect of watching you lift the title once again is exhilarating. It shall be the perfect end to a stupendous career. There’s no doubt that if India are to win it, you’ll have a vital role to play.
Some say his mind is made up of ice,
His finishing has been more than nice,
His stumpings are faster than lightening, no lies,
Till date I’ve never seen a cricketing mind so wise.
Happy Birthday Champ!
From your die hard fan!