The 2019 World Cup is likely to be MS Dhoni’s swansong in international cricket, and only another victory to go with the 2011 triumph that he led India too would befit the Jharkhand-born keeper who is arguably India’s most popular cricketer ever.
Regarded as the finest finisher in the limited-overs game, the 37-year-old wicketkeeper has won everything in the game and has revolutionised the Indian game through unconventional captaincy and batsmanship methods.
However, Dhoni started off as a long-haired expansive batsman who initially wowed crowds with scores of 148 and 183 within a year of his ODI debut.
But as the years went on Dhoni became a multi-faceted batsman, one who could control and then launch at the back end of the innings, and this sense of responsibility out in the middle brought about captaincy roles, in which he has a peerless record.
He captained India to victory in the inaugural World T20 in 2007 in South Africa, as well as to the 2011 World Cup on home soil and Champions Trophy delight in England in 2013.
Add no fewer than three IPL titles as captain of the Chennai Super Kings to that list and you come to understand that Dhoni is a man who thrives under pressure given his cool, calm and collected nature.
Those qualities have come to the fore throughout his career but the pinnacle came in the 2011 World Cup final against Sri Lanka in Mumbai, when 91 not out from 79 deliveries saw India recover from 115-3 to chase down the target of 275.
And while there was a certain tempo in that innings, recognising the time to nudge and nurdle singles, in the longer format it was often felt the Dhoni was too relaxed and refused to change tac on occasions.
This resulted in a heavily criticised 2-1 home defeat to England in 2012-13, while defeats also came on tours of South Africa and New Zealand in the same time period and of England in 2011 and 2014.
But Dhoni’s Test achievements were still remarkable, captaining India to 27 Test wins, more than any other captain, while he scored nearly 5000 runs including six hundreds at an average just under 40.
However, Dhoni sensed the time to move on from the longer format and announced his retirement in 2014, but still captained India to World Cup semi-finals in both the 50-over and 20-over format in 2015 and 2016 respectively.
Part of the side that reached the 2017 Champions Trophy final, Dhoni will hope to end his career in the same manner that he announced himself on the scene some 14 years ago.
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