Happy Birthday Mahi: 5 traits which make MS Dhoni Indias most popular captain. (Reuters Photo)
Indian cricket has seen captains like Kapil Dev, Mohammed Azharuddin, Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar , Rahul Dravid, and Virat Kohli. All are different but yet similar when compared to MS Dhoni, the small-town boy who changed the face of the sport in the country.
There is something different about the Ranchi-born, who continues to make headlines despite minimal public appearances.
As MS Dhoni celebrates his 40th birthday on Wednesday, lets have a look at 5 traits that sets him apart from his successors and predecessor.
Relatable persona: Indian captains of the past were either from metropolitan cities or tier-2 cities. In fact, the entire team used to be dominated by players from particular zones or Ranji teams.
When MS Dhoni became the captain, it was not a usual incident in the countrys most popular sport. An extraordinary cricketer from a small city like Ranchi kept hitting sixes and winning hearts from the very beginning. Whenever he played, people had this feeling that one of their own was playing.
His aura also gave youngsters of not-so-exposed parts of India a reason to dream, a reason to believe that they can compete with the big town guys.
Calm aggression: The rare trait which often makes a leader great. New Zealands Kane Williamson is a perfect example of it.
In sports, aggression has been related to confronting the opposition verbally or by some actions good for camera and TRP. However, someone like Dhoni challenges that notion.
Just imagining not flinching in the most pressure situation, just imagine smiling after hitting a six to win the World Cup in front of some 40,000 odd people. MS Dhoni showed that aggression is not one-dimensional.
The private man: Indian captains of the past or the current one in Virat Kohli, all had visibility outside the field as well. Sourav Ganguly is the BCCI president, Rahul Dravid is heading the NCA, Sachin Tendulkar is active on Twitter but MS Dhoni just disappears in his own world after the matches (IPL seasons now).
Apart from the videos and pictures posted by his wife Sakshi, MS Dhoni is not easy to spot. The same generates immense curiosity in fans. Dhonis pictures with his horses, dogs, cars, and bikes become dreamlike. They are often viral.
Mahi just loves flying back to his roots (Ranchi) to live with his family after every mission, successful or not, regardless.
never-give-up attitude: Being MS Dhoni is tough. You can be trolled and even abused despite winning the World Cup, T20 World Cup, and Champions Trophy for the country. An ordinary person is bound to react at some point in time but Dhoni doesnt fall under that category.
Sakshi Dhoni had once reacted to the trolls only to delete it later. He ends wild speculation over his IPL career by just saying "definitely not". He talks about "processes" and follows them relentlessly before they start giving results. After finishing second last in IPL 2020, his "process" finally paying off. CSK is currently placed 2nd in the IPL 2021 points table. The criticisms have slowed down.
Exiting the big stage without glittery farewells: Dhoni retired from the Test format all of a sudden in 2014. He was just 10 Tests short of 100 and 124 runs shy of 5,000 runs in the longest format. A Test match remained to be played on that Australia tour but the great man just called it a day.
The same happened on August 15, 2020, when he bid adieu to the other two formats of the game. An Instagram post and caption saying, "From 1929 consider me as retired."
CSK CEO wants Dhoni to continue for few more seasons but we might listen to another shock retirement from the man who doesnt really run behind occupying the center stage.