MS Dhoni: A messiah whose contribution to Indian cricket goes way beyond numbers

Renin Wilben Albert Updated: 16 August, 2020, 2:10 PM IST

10,773 runs in 350 ODIs, 4876 in 90 Tests, 1617 runs in T20Is, 829 dismissals as wicket-keeper. If one goes by numbers alone, the just-retired MS Dhoni has made a gigantic contribution to Indian cricket. Add it to his crowning glory as a skipper -- two World Cups, and a Champions Trophy triumph. However, Dhoni’s stats are just sizzlers in the vast menu that the former captain put out on display on the international stage -- as a player, as a leader, and as an individual as a whole. Dhoni’s presence in the Indian team over the last decade and a half has transformed the team’s fortunes like few before him have done.

Heralding a new era in Indian cricket

March 23, 2007, at Port-of-Spain was one of the lowest points of Indian cricket. Abject surrender to Sri Lanka in the league game dumped India out of the 2007 World Cup. Dhoni, himself, had a forgettable encounter, trapped lbw by the guile of Muttiah Muralitharan's first ball. However, it was under the same Dhoni that India turned things around a few months later, as a young team lifted the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa. It marked a completely fresh chapter in Indian cricket and was the beginning of the Dhoni era in no uncertain terms.

Dhoni the captain

In his very first World Cup, Dhoni proved what a shrewd thinker he is. His instinctive style often caught the opponents off-guard, none more prominently than in the final when his decision to give the unheralded Joginder Sharma the last over proved to be a master-stroke. As a leader, Dhoni was often one step ahead of the opposition. His decision to promote himself in the 2011 World Cup final, ahead of the supremely in-form Yuvraj Singh, was a highly calculated move. With Gautam Gambhir out in the middle, the Indian captain was aware that a left-right combo would make the Sri Lankan bowlers work harder.

Dhoni the batsman

As a batsman, Dhoni transformed himself from a hard-hitting lower-order batsman to arguably the best limited-overs finisher the world has ever seen. His decision to take the game to the very end had its critics. However, Dhoni backed his power-hitting and came out on top more often than not. It was only towards the twilight of his career that this approach proved to be a handicap, as MSD failed to get the big shots going. However, till the very end, fans had hope until Dhoni was at the crease. This was very much true in his last international game -- when he was run out for 50 in the 2019 World Cup semi-final. Indian supporters were optimistic about one last hurrah from Dhoni. Alas, it wasn’t to be.

Dhoni the keeper

So successful was Dhoni the batsman and captain, his supreme wicket-keeping skills never got the due it deserved. The fact is that Dhoni could walk into any limited-overs playing eleven on the basis of his glovework alone. Dhoni’s blink-and-you-miss stumpings are fodder for numerous YouTube videos and his backhand flick is another example of his street-smart thinking. With Dhoni behind the stumps, batsmen could never take it easy. How much India missed Dhoni the keeper became evident when his replacement Rishabh Pant struggled to get even the basics right. Even when he wasn’t skipper, Dhoni kept guiding the likes of Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, playing key roles in their rise as a potent spin duo.

A one-of-a-kind story

There are numerous rags to riches tales in Indian cricket. But, Dhoni’s stellar rise to stardom is unique in itself. Before him, no other cricketer from Jharkhand had represented India. Still, Dhoni dared to dream even when working as a ticket inspector with the Indian Railways. The grand success of Dhoni not only put Jharkhand and Ranchi (his birthplace) on the world map but also inspired other cricketers from the state to think big. Since, the likes of Varun Aaron, Saurabh Tiwary, and, more recently, have gone on to represent India. Even as Dhoni won’t be seen in Indian colors again, his contribution to Indian cricket will remain immortal.

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Danielle Wyatt reacts to Arjun Tendulkar's senior debut for Mumbai

Vedant Yadav Updated: 16 January, 2021, 5:20 PM IST

Arjun Tendulkar, the son of Indian legend Sachin Tendulkar, finally made his senior debut as he donned the Mumbai jersey during an Elite Group E fixture of the ongoing Syed Mushtaq Ali Trophy 2020/21.

After missing the first two games, Arjun played his first game during Mumbai's third game of the tournament. However, the pacer didn't have the best of outings as he finished his spell at 3-0-34-1.

Arjun had conceded 15 runs in his first over before returning to take the wicket of Haryana opener, Chaitanya Bishnoi. However, Mumbai ended up losing the game by 8 wickets, and thus, crashed out of the tournament with two games still to play.

The 21-year-old is expected to be retained in the line-up for the remaining games. After the all-rounder bagged his first wicket, he became one of the top trends on social media. England women's team batter Danielle Wyatt also reacted to the southpaw's debut.

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Wyatt, who is known to be a close friend of Arjun, lauded and congratulated the youngster for bagging a wicket on his debut. "Congratulations Arjun! Great start," the World Cup winner wrote on Twitter.

During an interaction with Cricket.com, Wyatt, who has after faced Arjun in the nets, said the youngster is getting quicker.

“Since then whenever I bump into Sachin or Arjun or whenever they come to Lord’s to train, I go to the nets and ask him (Arjun) to bowl with the new ball to me. But he is getting very quick now. He always says I will bounce you and knock your head off so I don’t like him bowling to me anymore. He is getting too dangerous to face,” Wyatt had said in June 2020.

Having finally made his senior debut, Arjun could be in action in IPL 2021 as he is now eligible to register for the auction. As per the norms, unless a franchise recommends someone, a player has to play at least one domestic game to enter the IPL auction.

He laughed about it: Shane Warne clears air with Marnus Labuschagne

Vedant Yadav Updated: 16 January, 2021, 4:45 PM IST

Legendary Australian spinner Shane Warne cleared up the comments he made about Marnus Labuschagne that earned him a fair bit of flak from the Australian fans. However, Warne on Saturday cleared up the comments he made about Labuschagne.

Warne was blasted by the Australian cricket fraternity after Labuschagne scored a ton on Day 1 of the fourth Test against India at Gabba. During the third Test, Warne, alongside former teammate and all-rounder Andrew Symonds, was reportedly heard using an 'expletive' while commentating on Marnus' batting.

"Jeez it's annoying. 'No!!!' Just f---ing bat properly," he had said according to World Wide of Sports.

Warne said he's a huge fan of Labuschagne's batting and added that the had already cleared the air with 26-year-old. The 51-year-old instead revealed that Marnus was 'ok' with it and the pair had a laugh regarding the same.

“I just want to clear something up,” Warne said on Fox Cricket.

“I’ve been a huge fan of Marnus. I’ve read a few reports saying ‘cop that Shane!’ about what you said about [him]. What I said about Marnus Labuschagne was ‘bat properly’. And what that means is none of that silly stuff of ‘wait on!’ and all of that carry on," he added

“Just bat, because you’re such a good player and yesterday I thought he didn’t do any of that stuff and he made a brilliant hundred.

It is something I won't regret: Rohit Sharma on first innings dismissal

Vedant Yadav Updated: 16 January, 2021, 3:54 PM IST

Indian team vice-captain Rohit Sharma has been facing a lot of criticism for playing an aerial shot off the bowling of Nathan Lyon, which led to his dismissal on Day 2 of the ongoing fourth Test in Brisbane.

However, Rohit, who played a knock of 44, said he does not regret playing the aerial shot, despite gifting his wicket to Lyon, who is making his 100th Test appearance for Australia. Instead, Rohit said that he didn't connect his shot properly.

"I reached where I wanted to reach, just that I did not connect with where I wanted to hit the ball. I was trying to pierce that long-on and deep square-leg fielder, I just did not connect with the way I would have loved to," Rohit said during a virtual press conference

"I actually liked what I did today, before coming here, we knew it would be a good pitch to bat, of course, there would be bounce and carry to the keeper, but this is what I enjoy," the 33-year-old added.

"Once I was in and I had played a few overs, I realised there was not much swing so I did little adjustment there, after that, it was an unfortunate dismissal, it is something I won't regret. I like to put pressure on the bowler once I am in," he further stated.

"That is my role in this team to keep putting pressure on the bowlers. The run-scoring has been slightly difficult for both the teams so someone needs to put their hand up and think about how to put pressure on the bowlers," he concluded.

India will resume day 3 at 62/2 after rain forced early stumps on day 2 at the Gabba. The visitors are trailing the hosts by 307 runs. The series is currently tied at 1-1 after the Sydney Test ended in a stalemate.

I was not allowed to carry anti-racism banners inside SCG: Indian Fan

Vedant Yadav Updated: 16 January, 2021, 3:03 PM IST

Amidst all the chaos regarding Indian players facing racism at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) during the third Test in Sydney, An Indian-Australian fan from Sydney has made shocking revelations regarding the same.

Indian pacers Jasprit Bumrah and Mohammed Siraj were allegedly abused by a section of the crowd at the SCG on Day 3 of the third Test before Team India had lodged a formal complaint with the officials.

Now, a fan has revealed that he was left feeling 'stripped and naked' after encountering racism at the venue. An Indian fan from Sydney -- Krishna Kumar -- has revealed he was stopped from entering the stadium with anti-racism banners on Day 5 of the Sydney Test.

Kumar said he was stopped by the security guards at the SCG and one of them even asked him 'to go back to where he belongs' for carrying the banners. He also revealed the Indian players on the ground were being continuously addressed as 'curry munchers'.

"Rivalry is good, racism is not", "No racism mate", "Brown inclusion matters" and "Cricket Australia - more diversity please" - were the four banners he was stopped from taking inside the stadium.

"He (security guard) told me, 'If you need to address this matter, go back to where you belong,' " Kumar was quoted as saying the Sydney Morning Herald.

"It was a very small banner. I made it out of my kids' paper roll. I want justice. I want accountability. I was feeling stripped, feeling watched and I went there to fight racism," he added.

"Why should I be stopped from addressing racism, especially at a ground where it was debatable whether it was happening or not? " he further stated.

"There were chants of 'curry munchers'. I was called a 'curry muncher'. The Indian team were called 'curry munchers'. That was going on loud and repeatedly," he concluded.

Kumar on Thursday filed an official complaint in the matter after meeting the NSW legal personnel. Meanwhile, ICC and Cricket Australia are also running a separate investigation on the same.

At least you’ll play one game: Nathan Lyon recalls his father’s funny reaction on his Test debut

Vedant Yadav Updated: 16 January, 2021, 2:26 PM IST

Nathan Lyon on Friday became the 13th Australian player to play 100 Tests in the 'baggy green' as he lined-up on Day 1 of the ongoing fourth and final Test in Brisbane. He marked his debut with the wicket of Rohit Sharma.

It has been some journey for Nathan Lyon, having made his Test debut in 2011 against Sri Lanka at Galle. As called by his teammates, 'Garry' has enjoyed a decade of success and will now unarguably qualify as one of the greatest bowlers to have ever graced the game.

Lyon is already the third-highest wicket-taker for the Aussies with 397 wickets to his name. And, considering the fact that he started his journey as a pitch curator at the Adelaide Oval, Lyon's story is nothing short of a fairytale.

In the same light, Lyon has now recalled the humorous interaction that he had with his father before putting on the Australian Baggy Green Cap for the first time. Lyon revealed that his father was happy that he would at least play a single Test match for Australia.

“I called Mum and Dad, I think Dad was out the back of Temora (NSW town) somewhere working. I said, ‘Dad, you won’t believe this,’ and he said, ‘What?’ I said, ‘I’m making my debut.’ He goes, ‘That’s all right, at least you’ll play one game,’ and he hung up,” said Lyon in a chat with Mark Howard on Fox Cricket.

Lyon said that his father got too emotional and hung up early to avoid a conversation. He also recalled that both his mother as well as his grandmother were crying and also added that his brother was totally speechless.

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“I’ve since found out that he was probably too emotional to talk. Then I called my brother, and he was speechless. Mum started crying… I called my grandmother and she started crying,” the off-spinner added.

Lyon would savour every moment he is spending at The Gabba as the match will determine the outcome of the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, which is currently tied at 1-1- after India salvaged a draw in Sydney.