MS Dhoni led the Indian team from the ashes of their worst-ever performance in a World Cup campaign to a victory just months later in the 2007 World T20 and then to victory in the 2011 World Cup.
The wicketkeeper-batsman on Saturday announced his retirement from international cricket and former India women’s team captain Anjum Chopra feels that the way he led the team to heights after the disappointment of 2007 is a testament to his character.
“His results speak for themselves. He got laurels for the country repeatedly and his success is not just at the international level but also in the IPL and whatever he has been a part of,” Anjum told IANS on Sunday.
Dhoni took over captaincy in ODIs from Rahul Dravid in 2007 and the Test captaincy from Anil Kumble in 2008. He remained the skipper of the Test team until his retirement from the format in 2014 and of the limited-overs side till 2017. The relatively short periods that Dravid and Kumble served as captains of the team meant that their terms have come to be seen as interim ones between Sourav Ganguly and Dhoni’s captaincies.
“I think he has been a perfect foil for Sourav Ganguly. Of course there was Rahul Dravid in the middle but after all these guys left, Dhoni carried the team forward. Not only just carrying the legacy forward but adding on to whatever the seniors built.
“So he has seen the ups and downs of Indian team since (the 2003 World Cup). And then from there (to lead) the resurgence and then carry it forward, it takes a lot of character and he has shown that,” she said.
The 39-year-old has not played any professional cricket since the 2019 World Cup semi-final in July last year and in this time Rishabh Pant and KL Rahul had taken his place behind the stumps for India in limited-overs cricket.
Anjum, however, feels that Dhoni still has a lot to give and the team would miss him for his abilities with the bat and as a wicketkeeper.
“Dhoni’s absence will be felt for sure. Not only as a leader, they will miss his presence as a match-winner and a finisher. They will miss his presence as a wicketkeeper and as someone behind the stumps who is a mentor and a guide — a senior person,” she said.
“Wicketkeepers have the best view in the house. They are watching the action from a place which is the central part of the ground. So if you have a thinking player and a leader (as a wicketkeeper) who can guide others around, it is an add-on for the captain. You might be an intelligent player but doesn’t mean that you have the right temperament for decision making.
“So with MS Dhoni I think they will miss that as well. We have heard from (Yuzvendra) Chahal and Kuldeep (Yadav) and even the fast bowlers of the guidance from Dhoni that comes in.”
Anjum also said that Dhoni has over the years grown to become the kind of icon that any sport would need.
“It is important to have such icons and leaders in the dressing room because you always want to have that guiding force. The sport needs such icons. It needs to create heroes. The very nature of a sport is to create heroes and icons.
“You always put a name to a sport. India may not have many Olympic medals but still you have icons and leaders, people you identify with the moment you take the name of a sport.
“When I was growing up I was told to emulate PT Usha. Of course the Indian team had won the 1983 World Cup but there was no one else apart from PT Usha at the time in women’s sport. Even though she never won an Olympic gold but still she was an icon,” she said.