Mahendra Singh Dhoni during the 2007 World Cup final against Pakistan Image: Getty
For Indians, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has changed cricket forever. He's given so much to the sport — the much talked-about helicopter shot, a quick-witted wicketkeeping style and the composure of an uber cool captain. But, in the exchange, the sport ended up giving him more. Moments of glory, memories, success and failures to learn from. Now that MS Dhoni is no longer captain of the shorter format of the game, it is an apt time to relive some special moments from his career.
1) When Pervez Musharraf praised Dhoni's long hair (2006, India's tour of Pakistan)
Nothing like an India-Pakistan series. Very few things can match up to its intensity. But MS Dhoni did it. Although Yuvraj Singh was ODI player of the series with sensational numbers, Dhoni's long hair made him rise the popularity chart. So much so that the then Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, ended up praising his long locks. It was during the third ODI in Lahore, when MSD was adjudged Man of the Match for his exceptional 46-ball 72.
2) The rise of Captain Cool (2007 T20I World Cup final vs Pakistan)
Dhoni was handed over the captaincy after Rahul Dravid. And he was named leader for the inaugural T20I World Cup in 2007. That's precisely where people recognised the level-headed leader in MSD. It is impossible to forget the final versus Pakistan, where he chose a wet-behind-the-ears Joginder Sharma over an experienced Harbhajan Singh to bowl the last over. And the rest is history.
3) Cometh the hour, cometh the man (World Cup Final, 2011. India vs Sri Lanka)
Sri Lanka sets India a target of 275. Sehwag and Tendulkar are dismissed cheaply. India are tottering. Dhoni promotes himself up the order, ahead of Yuvraj Singh. Soaks in the pressure of a World Cup final. Plays a match-winning knock and brings India their second World Cup. History is scripted. Dhoni becomes one of the greatest ever.
4) First double hundred in Tests (India vs Australia, 2013, Chennai)
Hundreds come and go. Half centuries come and go. But a 200 is special and stays forever with a batsman. Dhoni never scored a Test double-hundred until February 24, 2013. It was a Test match where India were struggling to build a partnership after Australia posted a 380-run first innings total. But Dhoni walked out to the pitch and changed the game with Virat Kohli. Dhoni made 224, which was his maiden Test double-hundred.
5) 2013 Champions Trophy: Second title
By now, Dhoni had established himself as one of India's most successful captains. But it was the 2013 Champions Trophy that made him the greatest ever. He is the first Indian captain to win all ICC tournaments. It was a crunch final where India were playing England in England. After being dismissed for 129, India had no other option but to bowl exceedingly well. Captain MSD played his cards well and India won. The Man of the Series was Shikhar Dhawan. But Dhoni knew what he had accomplished.