There is absolutely no doubt that MS Dhoni will go down as one of the greatest international captains of all-time. No other captain has won all three ICC titles (T20 World Cup, 50-overs World Cup and Champions Trophy). He also holds the record for being the most capped international captain (332 games across all three formats). The Ranchi born player captained India for almost a decade before handing over the reins to Virat Kohli.
Dhoni was an astute captain and a mastermind behind the stumps. While his batting and wicket-keeping skills are exemplary, it is no secret that Dhoni is one of the best minds to have played the game. Thus, there were multiple instances where Dhoni, the captain stood out and changed the complexion of a particular game series or a player’s career upside down.
Based on his instinct, ideas and beliefs, he backed ceratin players where probably no other captain would have. Hence, here we look at five such players who had the luxury of Dhoni’s backing in dire situations and they passed with flying colours.
1. Joginder Sharma:
Joginder Sharma. (Photo credit should read SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Whenever we talk about MS Dhoni’s captaincy and his masterstrokes, Joginder Sharma always gets a mention. The Haryana-born played just eight international games (four ODIs and four T20Is) but he was a vital part in a historical moment in Indian cricket. After the 2007 World Cup debacle, the senior pros opted not to play the T20 World Cup in South Africa in 2007. Mahendra Singh Dhoni had a very young squad at his disposal and Joginder Sharma turned out to be a key part of their plans.
The right-arm medium pacer only got into the plans towards the back end of the tournament. India played some wonderful cricket to reach the final. In the summit clash at Johannesburg, India were in pole position but Mishab-ul-Haq was taking the game away from the ‘Men in Blue’. With just 13 runs required off the last over, Dhoni had two options. He could either go with the experienced off-spinner Harbhajan Singh or take the gamble and bowl medium pacer, Joginder.
Dhoni went with the latter and the rest is history. The medium-pacer bowled a wide and conceded a six before getting Mishab out caught at short fine-leg. The gamble paid off and India were crowned as champions.
2. Ishant Sharma:
Ishant Sharma. (Photo by Duif du Toit/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
The rain played spoilsport in the 2013 Champions Trophy final. India and England squared off in a mouth-watering clash. However, persistent rain reduced the game to a 20-overs contest. After being put in to bat, India huffed and puffed their way to 129 on a tricky pitch.
In reply, England did lose a few early wickets and slipped to 46/4 in the 9th over. However, a brilliant partnership between Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara brought them back in the game. At one pint, they seemed favourites to pull it off.
However, that’s when MS Dhoni pulled another rabbit out of his hat. With 28 needed off the last three overs, Dhoni turned to Ishant Sharma. The lanky pacer had spent 27 runs in his three overs and it was a questionable tactic. Morgan pulled the second ball of the over for six before Ishant delivered a couple of wides.
Everybody questioned the move to give Ishant the ball. But the pacer got two wickets in as many deliveries dismissing both set batsmen and turned the game on its head. They eventually eked out a five-run win and won the Champions Trophy. Ishant, the villain to Ishant, the hero in the space of two balls.
3. Rohit Sharma:
Rohit Sharma. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Early in his career, it was pretty frustrating to watch Rohit Sharma. The Mumbai-born batsman seemed to have all the talent in the world and was successful in domestic cricket but for some reason, he was not able to translate it consistently at the international arena.
However, then came the 2013 Champions where he got a new lease of life. India travelled with just two frontline openers – Shikhar Dhawan and Murali Vijay and the duo opened in the warm-up games too. However, in the first game of the tournament, Dhoni asked Sharma to open the batting and it turned out to be a masterstroke. Rohit found success at the top of the order and has not looked back since.
At the moment, he is the best opening batsman in white-ball cricket. No other player has more runs or hundreds than Rohit since 2013 as an opener. He is the only player to score three double centuries. Hence, Dhoni promoting Rohit to open the batting has to be one of the best decisions in Indian cricket history, at least in white-ball cricket.
4. Virat Kohli:
Virat Kohli. (Photo by LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI/AFP/Getty Images)
At the moment, Virat Kohli may be the best batsman in the world but he had his fair share of struggles. It took him almost three years to break into the Test team after making his ODI debut in 2008 but donned the whites for the first time in 2011. He had already played 59 ODI games before earning the Test cap.
The Delhi-born batsman may have had a decent start to his ODI career but all was not rosy in the longer format. He struggled big time in his debut series and could muster a mere 75 runs in five innings against West Indies in the Caribbean.
He was subsequently dropped for the England tour but returned for the home series against West Indies and played one Test match where he scored twin fifties. He was picked for the Australia tour but started off badly. Kohli had scores of 11, 0, 23 and 9 in the first two Tests and got himself into a big controversy as well.
Hence, with Rohit Sharma waiting in the wings, he was all set to face the axe. However, MS Dhoni backed Kohli and the latter repaid the faith. He was India’s best batsman in the third Test in Perth scoring 44 and 75 before going on to register a maiden ton at Adelaide. Since then, he has only grown strength to strength and is widely termed the best in the world.
5. Ravichandran Ashwin:
Ravichandran Ashwin. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)
It is no secret that MS Dhoni loved playing with spinners. During his prime, he had Ravichandran Ashwin all around him. Be it the ODI side or the IPL or even Test cricket since 2011 (at home), Ashwin was Dhoni’s first-choice spinner.
There was a time at the start of Ashwin’s career where Dhoni used him as a new-ball bowler as well. He had utmost faith in the off-spinner’s ability and variations and backed him to deliver in the toughest of conditions. Ashwin did pretty well with the new ball and more often than not picked early wickets.
In fact, Dhoni used him to open the bowling in a couple of World Cup games as well (against West Indies and Australia). He even opted to start the proceedings with Ashwin in the 2011 IPL final which was a masterstroke as the off-spinner got rid of the dangerous Chris Gayle to kill the contest.
Initially, there were quite a few who doubted Ashwin and criticized his variations, he was tagged as a white ball bowler but over the years, his record in Test cricket and evolution as a bowler has shut them all off.
SportsInfo offers cricket, soccer, kabaddi, tennis, badminton, racing, basketball and other sports news, articles, videos, live coverage & live scores, player rankings & team rankings. Also, offers minute details of any match along with live commentary.
- After returning from army duty, MS Dhoni dons the politician role
- MS Dhoni batting higher in World Cup semis could’ve made things different, feels Virender Sehwag
- 5 cricketers who are loved and hated equally
- Team India is no one’s personal property: Manoj Tiwary on MS Dhoni’s retirement speculations
- MS Dhoni spotted at Leh Airport after completing his 15-day stint with Indian Army