Why he is awesome :
He is swashbuckling. After years and years of sublime, classy cricket from the likes of VVS and Rahul Dravid, we finally had a non-opening batsman who whacked the ball around. Seriously, sixes and smashed fours are WAYYY more exciting than finely placed late cuts and cover drives. He fired up the imagination of the Indian cricket fan who was dreading the inevitable departure of Tendulkar(which has not yet happened) and Ganguly. He was exciting in a very “live-action” kind of way.
According to Wikipedia, he debuted against Kenya in 2004 but I remember him the most from 2007’s series against Sri Lanka, where he smashed 183 by playing completely unorthodox shots and decimated the Lankan bowling attack and confidence alike.
We won that series 6-1(which is why I remember it so well) and the Greg Chappell controversy also happened around then.
He has had his fair share of ups and downs, with his average at one point in his career topping even Kevin Pietersen’s. I remember it being very close to 60, which is pretty awesome.
Then his mercurial rise as a batsman was halted, and his rise as a successful Indian captain began. Everybody’s tongues were wagging about his utter coolness and level headedness. He led India to a successful T20 World Cup win, defeating Pakistan and show casing either his incredible foresight or plain good luck, when he played Joginder Sharma in the final over.
That was set to continue, though not always, as Dhoni and India went through ups and downs, touching the ODI #1 ranking quite a few times and clinching the #1 test team ranking. Dhoni was also appointed captain for Chennai Super Kings, delighting me and everyone else born in Chennai.
He led Chennai to the first final, which we/they lost to Rajasthan Royals. He also led Chennai to an unsuccessful semi-final in the second IPL, and won the 3rd IPL as well as the Champions trophy.
He is also undoubtedly one of India’s best wicketkeepers.
As a batting side, India has always been phenomenal. Bowling is not that great all the time, and fielding is pretty sub-par. Wicketkeeping is no exception, and Dhoni looks like an average keeper when compared to some world greats like Gilchrist or Boucher, but as far as India goes, he’s pretty damned good.
Finally, this year (note : yesterday) he led India to its second CWC in a nail biting match. He has proved his mettle as an all-round, successful captain who has won everything and done everything. No seriously, he has bowled and taken a bunch of wickets too. He has also been a normal fielder. He is a wicketkeeper and an awesome batsman when in form. He has literally done everything except be a commentator and a coach. Maybe he’ll do that after retiring.
Why he is more awesome :
He was a normal person like all of us. He was selected for the Bihar Ranji team in 1998. In 2001, he was desperately in search of a job. He worked as a Railway ticket collector in Kharagpur, where he sometimes played cricket. By a pure stroke of luck, his manager A.K.Ganguly selected him to play for his team as the latter wanted a wicketkeeper-batsman.
Thus began Dhoni’s meteoric rise in Indian cricket. This was also helped along by luck and some astonishing smartness and understanding of the game and conditions. He is seriously gifted with amazing foresight. And a lot of luck.
Sometimes it’s not paid off. Sometimes it has paid off.
Now he is one of India’s most sought after cricketers. His IPL bids are astronomically high. He endorses close to 30 brands. He has fulfilled his life long dream of meeting Amitabh Bachan, Lata Mangeshkar, Adam Gilchrist and even his hero John Abraham. John’s ex-Bipasha is currently one of his closest friends. He married a wonderful lady from Kolkata. He has his boytoys that includes various bikes and possibly a Hummer.
And he deserves every single atom of whatever he has. Hard work + luck ALWAYS pays off and Dhoni exemplifies that.
According to some people, Dhoni is not a great captain as he sucks with the bat. A captain is proved successful not if he displays his bravado with the bat but if he leads his team to victory, something Dhoni has done a lot of times. Bad captains hardly ever lead their team to victory.
Nothing is stopping him from doing that. Knowing MSD and his luck and perseverance and brains, I’m utterly confident that India will stay on top as long as he continues playing.
Dhoni haters can continue to hate. I like MSD for what he truly is : a pure, uninhibited and uncannily smart cricketer. He is not better than Ganguly or anyone else, he’s in a different league altogether.
And btw, CSK! CSK! CSK!
He currently has 5300 runs at an average of 52 from 156 matches and 7 hundreds. Pretty darn good, I would say.