MS Dhoni has mastered the art of ageing like fine wine. With every passing year, his skills, be it wicketkeeping, decision-making or his batting, has only gotten better. Internet trolling and selective picking and choosing aside, even when it comes to strategy, keeping and batting, there is still no one like MS Dhoni. The ICC has acknowledged it in their tribute to Dhoni, the thousands in several stadiums in England where the matches are taking place have said there is none better than Dhoni, Jos Buttler has idolized him as a role model, Ben Stokes has hailed his consistency, Jasprit Bumrah has paid tribute to his calming influence while Virat Kohli, himself a modern-day great, has acknowledged that Dhoni is the certified legend of the game.
On the cricket field, MS Dhoni has achieved what needs to be done as skipper and player. He is the only skipper to have won all three ICC Championships, be it World T20, 50-over World Cup and Champions Trophy. He has won the IPL three times, the now-defunct Champions League T20 twice. Dhoni as captain helped India scale the summit in the Test ranking. As a keeper, he is third in the all-time list behind Kumar Sangakkara and Adam Gilchrist. However, he is the only one with over 100 stumpings.
Imagine this situation. You are captain across all formats. You keep wickets in all formats, which is incredibly taxing on the body. You take crucial decisions. You contribute at the death overs. You bat with aggression and finish the game on most occasions. To do that for close to 10 years, with such a high level of sustained fitness and brilliant decision-making is a stuff alpha-males are made up of.
Dhoni has done all that. He has taken his team over the line so many times. He has taken many right decisions. Hell, one does not win every ICC championship and scale the Test ranking of No.1 in the same tenure. It takes something special for the likes of Kohli to say that he is a legend and that Sachin Tendulkar, the original gold standard of Indian batting, says Dhoni was the best captain under whom he played.
At age 38, he might be running out of time. However, Dhoni is just two wins away from potentially ending his career on the ultimate high. He has achieved what he had to. Now, it is just the accumulation of more records to cement his legendary status.
Since it is a democracy and a liberal country, trolls have all the right to criticise. However, in the words of Kohli, Dhoni knows what he is doing. His post-match interview in the 2016 World T20 when he gave a reply to Cricket Australia journalist Sam Ferris about retirement is the defining attitude of Dhoni, who is enjoying his time out in the field. Dhoni can still run 100 meters in 10 seconds, he can still effect stumpings in 0.08 seconds, he can still finish the match off with a last-ball six and he still continues to amass records at will.
There is truly no one like MS Dhoni. Even if India does not win the World Cup, Dhoni has done enough to ensure his legend will forever remain etched in the minds of billions. And no trolling can change that.
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