MS Dhoni (right) with his runner Virender Sehwag after the match © Getty Images
MS Dhoni (right) with his runner Virender Sehwag after the match © Getty Images

It was the last day of October in 2005, India were supposed to play the 3rd of 7 ODIs against a Sri Lankan side that had already witnessed two humongous defeats one after the other. India lead the series 2-0. Sri Lanka had certainly not lived up to the tag of the No. 2 ODI team in the world. On the other hand, India had been clinical. They had bowled out the visitors twice in two games. The batting and bowling departments had complemented each other and Rahul Dravid’s side had certainly latched on to home-advantage. But the stage was set for a 24-year old wicketkeeper batsman wanting to make a name for himself. And so, he did. ALSO WATCH: VIDEO: MS Dhoni smashes unbeaten 183 against Sri Lanka at Jaipur

Winning the toss and batting first, Marvan Atapattu’s side registered a total of 298 for 4 after Kumar Sangakkara and Mahela Jayawardene, who were about to carry the burden of taking Sri Lankan Cricket to new heights on their broad shoulders, played beautifully. ‘Sanga’ got his 4th ODI hundred. He never knew that it would not be enough.

Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar began India’s run chase before the latter got out with just 7 on board. Out strode a young, focused MS Dhoni, then known for supping down litres of milk on a daily basis (which was often cited as the reason behind his immense power), on a mission to rip apart the bowling attack and take the game away from the Sri Lankans. Sawai ManSingh Stadium was about to witness an uncrowned king in the once-ruled princely state at his most destructive best.

Dhoni hit 3 sixes and a four in his first 26 runs. The bottom-hand of his had started doing the talking. Chaminda Vaas, the left-arm bowler was hit for 2 sixes. Farveez Maharoof’s deliveries were hit so hard that they almost gave the impression that Dhoni was furious at someone. But he was not. Instead, Dhoni was simply showcasing his way of going about a run-chase. He notched up his fifty in just 40 balls.

On the other end, Sehwag, despite scoring at more than a run a ball, was reduced to second-fiddle. Soon, the Delhi man got out LBW to Muttiah Muralitharan, who had to be introduced in the 11th over itself to stop the flow of runs. ALSO WATCH: MS Dhoni: Top 10 innings in international cricket

Rahul Dravid joined Dhoni. The duo decided to play Murali cautiously, for they knew he was the one big threat. They cut down on the risks without compromising on singles.

In the 18th over, Dhoni stepped out to hit a Upul Chandana ball for another big one, but the leg-spinner read his footwork and dropped one short. Dhoni had to adjust and dab it to short-cover, damaging his thigh a bit. He carried on.

Dhoni played the spinners efficiently. Dravid, at the other end, kept finding gaps with ease, often playing those big shots. A short, wide ball was hit for a single to extra-cover as Dhoni brought up his 2nd ODI hundred. A calm rifle-shot-fired celebration was followed by him, taking his helmet off and pointing the bat towards the impatient crowd.

Dravid met him mid-pitch and had a word (carpe diem, probably). Then Dhoni was back in business, for there was still a long way to go. ALSO READ: MS Dhoni: What makes him such a successful batsman?

Dravid fell soon afterwards. Yuvraj Singh was next in, but Dhoni was unperturbed. He shifted gears after his century and wreaked havoc on the tourists. Maharoof was hit as per will. But keeping wickets for 50 overs and coming on to bat in the first over of India’s run-chase had started taking a toll on his body, especially in the Jaipur heat.

The man who was running frantically, both for himself and his partners, was now restricted. He denied a couple of singles to Yuvraj, but hit a couple out of the park to make that up. Sri Lanka did not have an answer to Dhoni’s towering sixes. At times, even they were left astonished. Billy Bowden was at his animated best, too, with Dhoni clearing the ground every now and then.

But by the 32nd over it had become extremely difficult for him to run. And that is when he called out for a runner. In what might come as a surprise to many while reading this — Virender Sehwag arrived as the runner that day.

It might seem strange, because Sehwag was never known to be a quick runner between wickets; unfortunately, he was the youngest of the three who had got out (Tendulkar and Dravid were the others), which left Sehwag as the only option.

A rarely mistimed shot took Dhoni to his highest score of 150 not out , beating his previous best of 148 against Pakistan. Yuvraj fell, and Venugopal Rao found things difficult to get going, but that did not have any effect whatsoever on Dhoni. Dhoni’s promotion up the order had hit Sri Lanka like a knock-out blow. A number of records were broken including the one for the most sixes by an Indian batsman and also the highest by a wicketkeeper.

He hit the winning runs with a six off Tillakaratne Dilshan, a ritual he believes in till date. He won the match for India with 6 wickets in hand, by scoring 183 not out off 145 balls. Dhoni had taken giant steps that day, a new hero was born.

(Karan Dewan, a reporter with CricketCountry, loves following and playing sports. He is a Team India fan and loves winning. Follow him on his twitter handle @karan13dewan)