Celebrating the birthday of India's most prolific captain till date, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, I here list 7(his jersey no.) things that made Dhoni the successful captain he is and things that made him so popular amongst the masses.
1. The Hairstyle- Well , well this is probably what helped him get noticed by one and all. More than his batting or keeping skills, people were rather interested in the long flowing locks of Dhoni. Even the Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf could not resist talking about it and the hairstyle became an instant hit(more in rural India) but it was something which uniquely came to be identified with Dhoni. Who knew that the small town man with the unkempt hair would one day lead the National side to unprecedented glory.
2. 148 against Pakistan- This was the first time Dhoni,s batting came to the fore. Dhoni walked in at no. 3 to everyone's surprise and what followed was a brutal massacre of Pakistani bowlers. Dhoni smashed 148 off just 123 balls studded with towering sixes with his unique unconventional batting style which made him the Indian Afridi at that time. He played another swashbuckling innings against Sri Lanka when he smashed 183 runs with 10 sixes that established him as the big hitter of the India team.
3. The Finisher- In the period 2005-06 Dhoni had started to amaze everyone with his batting skills and the 2 hundreds mentioned above pretty much cemented his place in the India team. I still remember along with Yuvraj he helped India win many tough games by being there in the end and scoring quickly but responsibly to chase scores like 280-290 even when the asking rate was 8-9. According to me, this type of gameplay was what impressed everyone and contributed in making him the skipper.
4. T20 world cup- The turning point.India sent a team for T20 world cup with youngsters and debutants , a team devoid of Tendulkar, Dravid and Ganguly and the skipper, surprisingly was not Yuvraj but a relatively new Dhoni. Nobody expected India to do well with such a team but again to everyone's surprise Dhoni brought home the T20 world cup and showed brilliant leadership skills. Who can forget handing the last over to Joginder Sharma instead of Bhajji and going on to get the cup. As Dravid was already showing interest in stepping down as captain after the 2007 world cup debacle, Dhoni was made the captain of the ODI team as well.
5 ODI series win in Australia- After the controversy ridden test series against Australia, the selectors introduced fresh controversy when they again selected a very young team under Dhoni dropping Dravid and Ganguly but retaining Tendulkar. Again nobody expected the inexpereienced team to beat Australia in their backyard but then Dhoni again led India to history, their first ever ODI series win down under and this established belief in his captaincy and put to rest the claims of Dhoni blessed with only good luck and that the T20 WC was a fluke. This was the beggining of a new era in Indian cricket.
6. Test Champions- After Kumble led the Indian test team successfully and infused bravery in the team, Dhoni was given the reins of the test team also and boy he responded brilliantly yet again. Beating Australia convincingly at home, drawing series with South Africa in South Africa, winning in New Zealand, winning in Sri Lanka and finally getting India to the no. 1 rank in test cricket for the first time. Even the veteran Tendulkar called him the greatest captain he has ever played under and thus Dhoni had become one of the greatest captains in all time history. Added to that he has still not lost a bilateral test series.
7. 2011 world cup- This was finally the biggest achievement which made him the darling of every Indian fan and with no doubt rose him above all. After 28 years India brought home the world cup. Sachin's dream has been fulfilled, India are world champs, the team is the strongest and like a big happy family, Dhoni is studded everywhere from banners, hoardings, newspapers to TV commercials of almost every brand. Truly Dhoni has done the unthinkable and has surpassed even the master blaster in terms of popularity. Every child not only dreams of becoming Tendulkar but many now want to become Dhoni. He has given the thousands of budding small town cricketers the belief of becoming what he is today. This is probably his biggest achievement.