Mahendra Singh Dhoni [IND] – aka: the coolest man on the planet.
He gave rides to supermodels on his vast array of motorcycles – until he got married in a top secret ceremony. He had disrespectfully scruffy hair – until he became arguably the most universally loved captain that India has ever had.
Does he wear a helmet while riding his chopper? Fuck no. Dhoni laughs with impunity at your pathetic need for protection. Dhoni is so lucky that if he was in an accident, he would land head first into Kelly Brook’s bosom.
This is the whippet wicketkeeper who has risen from humble beginnings into becoming one of the greatest wicketkeeper/batsmen of all time, in one of the ultimate sporting success stories.
Dhoni veers between stodgy defence and unyielding aggression, and sometimes he struggles to balance the two when his side is in trouble. This has been a consistent, legitimate criticism of Dhoni ever since he took over the Indian captaincy. Despite this, he still manages to steer his side home in times of need, and averages a remarkable 74.20 in Indian ODI wins, at a strike rate of nearly 100. He may bat ugly these days, but he gets the job done.
When he burst onto the scene as a fearless 23 year old, he had virtually no responsibility. By and large he was fortunate enough to face a succession of listless bowlers on lifeless pitches, and thus he was able to burst onto the scene.
His captaincy and leadership skills are both curious beasts. He could already lay claim to being one of the greatest cricket leaders of all time.
He commands respect from all players, which is no easy task in a side with several elder statesmen, a slew of brash youngsters, and Harbhajan Singh.
Dhoni’s personality is an incredible blend between being uber-cool and singularly authoratitive. He has perfected the art of being primus inter pares. The younger players respect him, while he allows the experienced players to focus on their own game, and they all seem to have a bloody good time doing it.
Along with Beyonce’s masseuse, Dhoni is the luckiest man on earth. To emphasise that everything he touches turns to gold, just look at what happens when he touches pure and utter filth…
T20 World Cup Final 2007 @ The Wanderers, Johannesburg
With India having dominated Pakistan throughout the match, the curiously ancient-looking Misbah-ul-Haq is batting with the lower order and facing a spiralling run rate against a fired-up Indian side.
Aided briefly by Sohail Tanvir, Misbah mauled an attack of Sreesanth, Harbhajan. The final over saw Pakistan needing ten runs with Misbah on strike, but with just one wicket remaining.
Inexplicably, the rookie medium-pacer Joginder Sharma was entrusted with this final over. This was his first series playing for India and he had looked haplessly out of his depth.
Dhoni had handled his bowlers poorly, to the extent that his team was relying on a final over choke from Pakistan. He tried to instil confidence in Sharma, but even Dhoni must have been wondering how he’d let it get so close.
Sharma was shaking like a leaf in a packed Bullring, realising that the hopes of a billion rested on his shoulders alone.
First ball, he trundled up to the crease like the village bowler he always was, and he managed to send it horrifically wide and slow.
Still, you can never count out someone like Dhoni, who was most likely a professional lottery player in his past life.
The very next ball, Sharma once again dib-dobbed his way to the crease, sending down a vaguely straight, slow delivery. In peak form, Misbah attempted to sweep Sharma over short fine leg for what would have been a certain boundary. It was a calculated gamble, but one that poor Misbah is still lampooned for to this day.
On another day, with another captain, Misbah would have cleared the fielder and been hailed for his innovation. But with Dhoni, you’re always fighting a superior power. This utterly innocuous, embarrassingly slow ball was top-edged straight into the none-too-safe hands of Sreesanth, and Dhoni was hailed a hero.
It’s hard to be too critical considering his record as captain, but he has made plenty of howlers that have gone unpunished.
Following the success of Ganguly – and to a lesser extent, Dravid – was going to be a tough act, given how they transformed India into a team of fighters, but Dhoni has built upon his predecessors’ successes and instilled the team with renewed confidence. Having won the 2011 World Cup as captain, he has already achieved more in limited overs cricket than any other Indian captain in history. His calm under pressure once again rubbed off on his team, and he has now reached legendary status.
As a character, Dhoni speaks articulately and speaks frankly in interviews. But the reason we each admire Dhoni so much is his humility. Despite being plastered on billboards, Pepsi bottles and tampon packaging across India, Dhoni is revered by all. He always comes across as a man who appreciates his roots, and that he has a wider social responsibility. Acknowledging that we at AC are tremendously selective with our praise, there just aren’t enough good things to say about the man.
After Ravi Shastri, Dhoni has the second sexiest voice in India.
Dhoni is probably amazing in bed, and he would caress your hair gently, kiss you all over, and tell you how he feels like “there’s this…I dunno yaar, just this…connection, between us, isn’t there?” He’d leave you hanging, as you sit by the phone waiting for his call. Five days later, he’d finally call you, tell you to look outside your window, and there he’d be, holding up a sign saying: ‘U R THE 1 4 ME.’
And I bet you’d lap it all up too.
Everybody loves Dhoni. Heck, even I do.