Statistically, Indian captain MS Dhoni is already heading towards the title of the greatest captain in the world. If this statement seems a bit premature now, then it definitely won’t be if he keeps up the victories under his leadership for 2-3 more years.
He has already achieved a unique hat-trick of hat-tricks…
Hat-trick Number 1: Dhoni is the only man in the world to take his team to victory in the top 3 limited over tournaments of the world: The ODI World Cup, the T20 World Cup and the ICC Champions Trophy.
Hat-trick Number 2: Dhoni is the only captain in the world to have ever taken his team to the ICC No. 1 rankings (from a lower rank and not merely inherited it) in all three forms of the game: Tests, ODIs and T20s.
Hat-trick Number 3: Dhoni is the only man in the world to be captain in all three forms of the game for more than 4 years at a stretch now.
Bonus: Dhoni is also the only captain ever to have won both the IPL and the Champions League. He is also the only captain to have led an IPL team from the very beginning to now (Chennai Super Kings).
Any other country in the world and not only would Dhoni have been declared the greatest captain ever, but also the greatest player of all time.
In our country, we will never ever be able to look beyond Sachin Tendulkar and most people still attribute all of Dhoni’s achievements to plain luck, which has been mysteriously clinging to him persistently for 6 years now.
Of course sponsorships and business houses recognize success like no other and Dhoni surpassed Sachin in emoluments ages ago and is even richer than tennis superstar Novak Djokovic.
Interestingly, as a player, Dhoni’s no bunny either.
As a wicketkeeper he has made more than 550 international dismissals, which is already India’s highest.
He has scored 4209 Test runs at an average of 39.7 with six centuries. That makes him India’s greatest No. 7 batsman ever and there are those who actually doubt his place in the Test side!
As an ODI batsman, even though our commentators won’t admit it, he has overshadowed Tendulkar in the last 5 years.
Dhoni has belted 7286 runs at an astonishing average of 51.7 and a pretty good strike rate of 88.3. Not for nothing was he ICC No. 1 ODI batsman for quite a long long time.
He is also the world’s greatest finisher. In that role, he has stayed not out in 28 winning matches and scored 2298 unbeaten runs. That’s the highest ever for all teams. It’s a cliche to see Dhoni hit the winning runs. It’s a cliche to see Dhoni hit a 6 off the last ball of any innings.
But those are mere statistics.
Dhoni’s influence goes much beyond that.
He is the revival man of Indian cricket.
We were never great chasers. Then we created a world record of 17 consecutive ODI chases. Dhoni was our biggest ace in the pack at that time.
From the depths of despair in the first round exit of the 2007 ODI World Cup and the infamous Greg Chappell-Sourav Ganguly row, he took us straight to the heights of the T20 World Cup victory.
In the World Cup final, no team had ever chased a target as high as 275. When Mahela Jayawardene scored 103 not out, no centurion had ever been on the losing side in an ODI World Cup final. But Dhoni’s brilliant 91 not out sealed it all.
He is also the only Indian captain to inflict a Test 4-0 whitewash and that too on a team like Australia. It must be remembered that his maiden double century in the first Test started our Test revival.
From the IPL spot fixing scandal, he has taken us to the win in the ICC Champions Trophy. Defending a paltry score of 129 in 20 overs requires great nerves of steel. One has to keep one’s cool and make all the right field placements and bowling changes. Dhoni did that in style.
Whenever Dhoni has clicked as a captain, the team has done well. Whenever he has flopped, the team has too. It is a myth that the team is dependent on Tendulkar. For the last 6 years it has been dependent on Dhoni.
Attacking batsman cum wicketkeeper cum captain of the international T20, ODI Test and Chennai Super King teams continuously for so many years now…
Many other top cricketers have simply wilted at even half of that pressure! Add to that all the scandals, media glare and player politics and you will realize the value of such a fantastic performance in a pressure cooker situation.
Look at the complete package and Dhoni is already an all-time great.
In terms of absorbing pressure on and off the field, he is the emperor.
Of course, Dhoni still has a long way to go.
He is just 31 and will shatter many more records by the time he is done.
History will treat Dhoni much more kindly than he is being looked upon right now.
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/