7th Jul 1981
Chennai Super Kings, India
Mohammad Azharuddin was once famously referred to as Destiny’s Child. It would appear as if in Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the former Indian captain has excellent company. Dhoni’s rise from the cricketing outpost that Jharkhand used to be is the stuff of dreams. His uncomplicated batsmanship and effective if unpolished wicketkeeping, as much as his long locks, thrust him into the limelight during an ‘A’ tour of Kenya in 2004. Since then, Dhoni hasn’t looked back, and stands today as India’s most successful and celebrated captain across all three formats. In his first stint at the helm, he steered a young side to the title in the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa in 2007. Once he became the Test captain after Anil Kumble retired in 2008, Dhoni took his team to the top spot in the Test rankings the following December, then secured his place in the pantheon with a bruising unbeaten 91 that helped India brush Sri Lanka aside in the final of the 2011 World Cup. Crushing defeats in England and Australia and the loss of the No. 1 ranking have taken some sheen off Dhoni’s exploits, but through victory and defeat, he has been equanimous in his decade-long career. His 224 against Australia in the 2013 Chennai Test was handled as stoically as his retirement from the longer format after 90 appearances in December 2014 in the middle of the Australian tour. He ended as one of the only six captains to have led their side in 60 Tests. His greatest asset has been his composure, be it in the field of play or in handling speculative controversies off it. Easily the most successful domestic T20 captain, Dhoni has won two IPL and two Champions League titles with Chennai Super Kings. His shrewd marshalling of not inconsiderable resources and his uncanny ability to get the best out of his men, as much as his ever evolving approach to batting, single him out as a leader most inspirational.