No matter how good or great a player he is, or goes on to become, Mahendra Singh Dhoni will always be remembered as a captain who led India to two World titles. But there is more to him than cricket and his on-field achievements which make him an idol worth emulating. (Pics: MS Dhoni - 30 Years, 30 Achievements)
No, I am not going to talk about how he hit that World Cup winning six in the World Cup final or what made him give the ball to Joginder Sharma to bowl the last over in the T20 World Cup title clash in 2007. Enough's been said about all that. Dhoni himself has given the details in interviews and TV commercials. (Pics: Dhoni turns 30)
What I really like about him is the way he keeps away from all the attention when not playing. He does not make unnecessary noises unlike other players. He gives opinion when asked and in the most forthright way.
I remember one of his old interviews, when he was asked what was the most valuable lesson he had learnt from his seniors in the dressing room? He said: "Rahul (Dravid) told me to learn to say No". Perhaps Dravid knew MSD was a talent destined for greater things and he passed on a great piece of advice to a young man from a small town entering into a world that was full of distractions and temptations.
I know many people who call him a clever and calculated man who plays his cards well. Absurd! But even if it's true, I say what's wrong in that. He's a tactician and he has proved his worth. He is undoubtedly the best wicketkeeper-batsman India has produced in a long time. His credentials as a captain are too much to look real for most of his critics. They say he is lucky to have a great team. True, but it still takes a great captain to get the best out of his teammates. With man-management skills, he has become a case study for all MBA students.
Also if he keeps a check on his exposure, it's a commendable move. In a country obsessed with cricket, it's generally very easy for cricketers to fall prey to the adulation which is actually a double-edged sword. In the last few years, we have seen a few talented cricketers get dazzled by the success and lose track. Rohit Sharma is one such example and Yuvraj Singh struggled to come in terms with the success in his initial years. Dhoni was far too intelligent for all this. He knew as long as he respects the source of all the success, he'll be fine.
Fine? He's doing far better. I am sure like any youngster, he too loves to enjoy the perks of life but he does it in a way that nobody gets an opportunity to point a finger at him. For me that makes him cool. Do I sound like another female fan whose heart goes 'hmmm hmmm' for him? No. I am not the one. But even if it makes me sound like one, I don't mind.
He comes across as a person who is conscious of his image - brand and social. What's wrong in that? At least he's not reckless unlike many of his contemporaries. Even if his detractors believe he has achieved far more than he deserves at his age, I believe otherwise. This man deserves all the praise as he has earned every bit of success that he has achieved.
On his 30th birthday, I, on behalf of all his fans, take this opportunity to thank him for all the laurels he has brought to our country. A very Happy Birthday MSD. You Rock!