MS Dhoni completes 15 years in international cricket

Former India skipper M.S. Dhoni completes 15 years as an international cricketer having made his debut on December 23, 2004 against Bangladesh.

M.S. Dhoni on his debut against Bangladesh in Chittagong.   -  V.V. KRISHNAN

M.S. Dhoni completes 15 years in international cricket having made his debut against Bangladesh in Chittagong on December 23, 2004. It wasn't a memorable introduction, though, for the Ranchi cricketer, who was run out for a first-ball duck.

The national selection committee led by Kiran More, a former wicketkeeper himself, handed Dhoni his maiden call-up and it would not be long before he established himself as a regular in the ODI and Test formats before being appointed the India captain for the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa.

Dhoni endeared himself to the fans with his belligerent batting and the long locks that were a symbol of his early-career flamboyance.

He would transform his batting to suit the team's needs and become its de facto finisher, particularly in run-chases, while his instinctive on-field decisions as captain started delivering trophies.

The young Indian side under Dhoni won the T20 World Cup in September 2007 to soothe the scars of the group-stage exit from the 50-over World Cup earlier in the year.

A young MS Dhoni celebrates after India won the T20 World Cup in 2007.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

India won the tri-series in Australia in 2008, registered its first Test series win in New Zealand in 41 years, drew a Test series in South Africa in 2010, and under Dhoni, it wasn't just competing but beginning to win consistently home and away.

In the final of the 2011 World Cup, Dhoni transcended himself to play arguably the defining innings of his career - an unbeaten 91 - to help India end its 28-year wait to win the quadrennial tournament.

The six over long on off Sri Lanka seamer Nuwan Kulasekara and the outpouring of emotions are among the iconic moments of Indian cricket.

An emotional Sachin Tendulkar hugs MS Dhoni after the former India skipper played the innings of his life as India lifted the World Cup after a gap of 28 years.   -  GETTY IMAGES

 

In 2013, he became the first international captain to win three ICC trophies when India beat England in the final of the Champions Trophy.

In the ensuing years, success would elude Dhoni and the much-heralded midas touch would wane. The captaincy mantle was passed on to Virat Kohli in the middle of India's away Test series against Australia in December 2014 and India would fail at the penultimate stage of the 2015 World Cup and the 2016 T20 World Cup on home soil. 

Dhoni has remained the hope and a source of joy for much of the 15 years since that December afternoon in Chittagong. We don't know if we will see Dhoni ply his trade for a 16th year, but his remains a career that's been celebrated and deserving of more celebration.

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