Whenever Team India has been in trouble, be it while chasing a mammoth total and fumbling on the way or while steadying a shaky first innings and getting to a competitive total, we have always looked upto one man, Captain Cool himself, Mahendra Singh Dhoni! No matter how daunting the run chase is, no matter the number of wickets that have fallen, when Dhoni steps out to bat, there is always calmness among people and a sense of reliability that he will take India home. His selfless batting and composure in dire times have snatched victory from the opponent in the unlikeliest of times. Here are some of those instances.
1. Avoiding a shameful defeat against the minnows - Zimbabwe
A weak Zimbabwe team had put up a total of 251 on the board in 2005. India was bracing themselves for a humiliation at the halfway mark with just 91 scored for the loss of 5 wickets. That is when MSD stood up and in tandem with Yuvraj Singh made a mammoth 158-run stand to steer India home. This was Dhoni's 1st 50 chasing and ended up with 67*.
2. India's Redeemer after the disastrous 2007 World Cup
After crashing out of the 2007 World Cup, suffering a defeat at the hands of Bangladesh, team India came under a lot of fire and Dhoni's house was even wrecked by angry fans. Then came the series against Bangladesh and India were looking at yet another defeat while being reduced to 144-5 in 29 over, chasing 251 in 47 overs. Dhoni, batting at #3 that day took the run-chase safely out of harm's way with his cautious 91 off 106 balls (just seven 4s).
3. Dhoni - the finisher emerges from the cold flames of tranquility
It was a rain-hit game in 2009 against the West Indies, and the total was adjusted to 159 in 22 overs. The openers had given a great start; Dhoni came in at #3 when things started to turn in favour of the Windies. They began picking wickets at regular intervals and India were in trouble, but Dhoni stayed put! With 11 to get off the last over, T20 specialist Yusuf Pathan could only manage a single off the 1st ball. Then came Dhoni who smashed one out the park leaving just 4 to get from 4 balls. That, India could collect with ease.
4. The smasher scored a 50 without a single boundary to his name
The raging bull that was Dhoni, was moulded into a gentle giant with lots of pent-up force after the reigns of team India were handed over to him. In 2008 against Sri Lanka, India was given 239 to chase. Although Yuvi's breezy innings loosened up the hold on India, things started to get tough when he fell with the team score being 158 in the 33rd over. Wickets then started to tumble, and Dhoni was left alone to take India through, as the tail opened up pretty soon. But Dhoni managed to score a 50 with no boundaries and see the game through!
5. Pulling India out from the depths of the Lankan pit!
On a bowlers' paradise at the Queens Park Oval in 2013 India were given a mere 202 to chase. It was in the 39th over that India's feathers were ruffled. Sri Lanka took the wicket after wicket pulling's India's tail out to have a bat, courtesy Rangana's Herath's 20-4! Dhoni, coming out at #6 that day, knew he could take his team to the finish if he held his nerve. India needed 17 off the last two overs, and Ishant Sharma played out the 49th scoring just 2 off it. With 15 required in 6 balls, Dhoni missed the 1st one completely. Then did Dhoni go out all guns blazing, with the scoreboard reading, 6-4-6!
6. The 1st ever Border-Gavaskar Trophy match in 2013
Australia had put up a respectable 380 in the first innings. Once India's score reached 200, the batsmen crumbled like a chain of stacked dominoes. Out came Dhoni again to rescue team India to score the highest number of runs by an Indian captain, 224 and India even went on to win the test match by eight wickets!
7. The Proteas' test for MSD
It was in 2015 against the South Africans, that the top order batsmen lost their ground to the speedy Dale Steyn and others. Reduced to 124-6, India was looking at yet another submissive game, when Dhoni took charge of the situation. Striving hard for runs, hitting boundaries as and when the situation permitted, India plodded to 165-7 in the 40th over. India then reached 225 with just one wicket left and six overs to go, when Dhoni put his foot down & scored 50 runs in the next 36 balls. India went on to reap the sweet fruit of victory, courtesy, MS Dhoni.
8. A World Cup final to remember!
At the 2011 world cup finals against Sri Lanka, India were the favourites, playing at Mumbai, chasing a moderate total of 279. Just when everything was set, Sehwag & Sachin were both dismissed early! Though Virat & Gambhir steadied the innings, Kohli fell in the 22nd over with the scorecard reading 114-3. Dhoni then came out ahead of Yuvi, who was the star of the tournament, at #5 on the day that mattered the most! Even though Gambhir lost his wicket when India was closing in on the total, Dhoni held his nerve and finished off the precarious run-chase with the big SIX to bag the WORLD CUP after 28 long years and finished with 91*. It was a captain's innings! A fitting send off for the little master!