Did the Jharkhand ouster in the Ranji Trophy semi-final hurt MS Dhoni so much that he decided to resign as India’s ODI and T20I captain? No, the man behind the poker face remains unperturbed by wins and losses. We have known him for years. No, do we? The calm demeanour can often take all of us off guard. He has own way of doing things, just the way he did Wednesday night. He had dropped a bombshell by retiring from Test cricket ahead of New Year 2015; then, days into 2017, he does this. There was no press conference. There was no buzz. And the call came two days before the selectors meet to pick the ODI squad for the England series.

But then, that is Dhoni, the perpetually perfectly imperfect man. Sachin Tendulkar ended with a nice, round 200 Tests and Muttiah Muralitharan with 800 wickets. On the other hand, Don Bradman finished with an average of 99.94; Mark Boucher, with 999 dismissals as wicketkeeper; and Dhoni, India’s most successful ODI skipper, with 199 matches at the helm. He has led for almost a decade, won all the major ICC Trophies (an achievement without precedence), led India to the pinnacle position in Test cricket and has led his side in most international matches.

Dhoni has 178 wins to his name and is only behind Ricky Ponting, who has 220 wins to his name, making Dhoni the second-most successful skipper across formats. As the Dhoni era ends, Suvajit Mustafi picks 15 most memorable moments from his limited-overs stint.

ICC World T20 2007, South Africa

MS Dhoni celebrates after winning ICC World T20 2016 © Getty Images
MS Dhoni celebrates after winning ICC World T20 2016 © Getty Images

Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid had opted out and suggested Dhoni be the captain of the then perceived young man’s format. India were out of contention and aided by an in-form Yuvraj Singh and spirited young players, Dhoni pulled off one of India’s finest moment in its history.

From a washout against Scotland to Misbah-ul-Haq’s miscued scoop, the tournament was a blockbuster, and Dhoni had impressed enough and made a statement, he is here to stay.

The moment Misbah scooped Dhoni’s surprise last-over choice Joginder Sharma, there was silence. All we recall is S Sreesanth waiting under the ball for an eternity and Ravi Shastri’s scream. Misbah looked crestfallen as Dhoni pumped his fist, the first silverware nabbed.

 

CB Series 2008, Australia

Team India celebrate CB Series win © Getty Images
Team India celebrate CB Series win © Getty Images

The ‘Monkeygate’, the ‘obnoxious’ statements, followed by the unceremonious axing of Ganguly and Dravid, and to add to that Virender Sehwag being dropped during the ultimate stages.

The youngsters went on to eclipse all of the above. Dhoni had led India to an ODI tournament win in Australia. The young India side had beaten the World Champions in the two back-to-back finals. Tendulkar was the architect, as were the ‘fit’ youngsters (and a not-so-fit Praveen Kumar). Dhoni himself contributed with 15* and 36 in the finals.

He went on to hail this win sweeter than the World T20.

 

Asia Cup 2010, Sri Lanka

Dhoni lifts the Asia Cup 2016 © Getty Images
Dhoni lifts the Asia Cup 2016 © AFP

 

Ajantha Mendis had routed India in the Asia Cup Final in 2008 to guide Sri Lanka to the title. This time they were defending the title at their backyard. Once again, India and Sri Lanka made it to the final.

India put up 268 and Ashish Nehra dismantled the hosts for 187 to help Dhoni add another trophy in his cabinet. Mission Asia Cup was complete.

ICC World Cup 2011

The scenes after the winning hit that sealed the event © Getty Images
The scenes after the winning hit that sealed the event © Getty Images

The six that sealed it.

The nation went berserk and celebrated like no tomorrow.

This was perhaps the greatest. Dhoni was at thick of things. He promoted himself ahead the in-form Yuvraj, stitched a match-defining partnership with Gautam Gambhir and sealed the game with a six that will remain a favourite poster for most Indian fans.

Dhoni’s 91 not out won him the Man of the Match. India had lifted their second ODI World Cup, one after 28 years since Kapil Dev’s men had done so.

 

ICC Champions Trophy 2013, England

Shikhar Dhawan (left), MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja pose with the trophies © Getty Images
Shikhar Dhawan (left), MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja pose with the trophies © Getty Images

There were overseas defeats, then another defeat at home against England. If we thought a 4-0 whitewash over Australians was a solace, the IPL spot-fixing saga came to haunt further. Dhoni’s Chennai Super Kings (CSK) was at centre of things.

Dhoni refused to answer questions on this saga. People were expecting him to be vocal like Ganguly had been in 2000. Dhoni has his own way of doing things.

India were exceptional in the tournament. Shikhar Dhawan was the best batsman and Ravindra Jadeja the best bowler; and Dhoni’s men had managed to get the better of hosts England in a rain-curtailed 20-over thriller.

 

Tri-Series in West Indies, 2013

Virat Kohli captained in major part of the series and his heroics saw India in the final. They were up against Sri Lanka. Jadeja’s four-for restricted Sri Lanka to 201. India were 139 for 3 when they collapsed to 182 for 9.

India at one point needed 24 from 5 overs. Vinay Kumar fell the following over. They now needed 21 from 24 balls; then 19 from 18; then 17 for 12; and finally, 15 from the last over.

What was Dhoni doing? Perhaps writing another script for folklore.

He remained at one end and had a task in hand to pull off the game with last man Ishant Sharma as his partner.

MS Dhoni (left) celebrates with Ishant Sharma after the winning hit © AFP
MS Dhoni (left) celebrates with Ishant Sharma after the winning hit © AFP

India needed 15 from 5 balls. Dhoni effortlessly went 6, 4 and 6. That was it. India had won. All wondered if he has a gizmo remote or a magic wand. This ability waned as pages in calendar turned but along with Michael Bevan, Dhoni is the best finisher the game has seen till date.

 

The 7-match undefeated streak in World Cup 2015

India were a mentally jaded side heading into the World Cup. They had a terrible ODI preparatory tournament in Australia. The form was an issue. Everything seemed to be falling apart. The side took a short break. Then they reinvented themselves before the tournament.

India beat Pakistan, then South Africa, UAE, West Indies, Ireland and Zimbabwe to top the Group Stage. They defeated a spirited Bangladesh in the quarter-final to make it seven wins in a row. India even bowled out every single opposition.

A rejuvenated Dhoni looked in control and led his troops brilliantly. India lost to Australia, the eventual champions, in the semi-final.

© Twitter
© Twitter

India were defending champions and played like one. Contrary to Arnab Goswami’s ‘shameful’ beliefs, the nation applauded the skipper who had not yet met his almost two-month old daughter. The welled up eyes at the presentation ceremony in the semi-final told the tale.

 

India win T20I series against Australia 3-0, 2016

India whitewashed Australia 3-0 © Getty Images
India whitewashed Australia 3-0 © Getty Images

After a 1-4 drubbing in the ODI series, India came back strong the T20Is. Australia fell to Kohli’s brilliance in the first two ODIs but riding on stand-in skipper Shane Watson’s hundred, the hosts put up 197. Kohli fell for ‘only’ 50, a number lower than his T20I average.

Yuvraj was making a comeback in the series. He did not have to bat in the first two games. Dhoni promoted him in the order in the third match. India needed 17 from the final over. Yuvraj went 4, 6, 1 and a bye in the first three balls and Suresh Raina, another comeback man, completed rest of the formality.

For the first time, India had effected a whitewash in Australia and climbed the No.1 spot in the ICC T20I Ranking.

 

Asia Cup T20 2016, Bangladesh

The six that sealed the Asia Cup T20I © AFP
The six that sealed the Asia Cup T20I © AFP

Bangladesh have emerged as a strong outfit in home conditions. They crossed the Pakistan and Sri Lanka hurdles to make it to the final of the tournament. A thunderstorm had resulted in a difficult pitch and sluggish outfield and a delayed start.

Before the match, a designed image of Taskin Ahmed holding Dhoni’s head made rounds in the social media much to the ire of Indian fans. Dhawan scored a crucial 60 and Kohli supported him with a quick 44. Dhoni promoted himself and launched himself on the Bangladeshis.

The 14th over started with a Dhoni six and ended with a four and another six to seal the trophy. India had won the first ever Asia Cup T20 and the tournament for the sixth time. Not for the first time he smacked a six to seal a win and surely this won’t be the last time…