milestone man

Source: The Hitavada      Date: 16 Jul 2018 10:44:00

FORMER Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a truly milestone man in international cricket. In the second One-Day International (ODI) against England, played at the iconic Lord’s on Saturday, he joined the ranks of Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly by reaching the 10,000-run milestone in the ODI format. There are a few international cricketers who have reached that far blazing cricket grounds all over the world. It is not a mere number, it is a story of skill, hard work, discipline, commitment that take a sportsperson that far. 

That Dhoni has achieved the feat at the fag-end of his career with a gritty performance while the rest of the team proved to be unequal to the challenge posted by the English team, shows the man’s eternal fighting qualities. While fighting for the team’s cause, Dhoni unselfishly curbed his natural aggressive playing style and tried to make a match of it. But unfortunately the lower order batsmen were in no position to lend the required support to the lone fighter, after the upper order had already wilted. But these are occasions not unknown to Dhoni. He has been known to wage a lone battle and that too successfully on innumerable occasions, both as a captain and as an ordinary member of the team.

Dhoni’s entry in the Indian ODI team in 2003 against Bangladesh, in fact, was on the basis of his aggressive batting style and as he matured as the player he began to take larger responsibility for the team whenever required. In this role he has several achievements to his credit. As years progressed he came to be recognised as the finest finishers of the game. For the Indian team there were umpteen times when Dhoni’s bat would swing for the team’s success. That showed his uncanny qualities of correctly reading the situation of the game.

It was these qualities that earned him the recommendation from greats like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly to don the mantle of the Indian cricket team’s captainship. And he did not disappoint them. He led Team India to pinnacle of world cricket, with the team emerging as the dominant force and world number one in all formats of the game. So unselfish has been his demeanour and so clear has been his cricketing thinking that as soon as he realised that Virat Kohli could be his ideal successor, he stepped down as the captain of the Indian Test team and subsequently shorter formats leadership too.

That he is still a vital member of the team, a go-to-man, with a cool head on his shoulder, augers well for Kohli and the team, for his wise counsel is as important as his contribution with the bat and with the gloves behind the wicket.