M.S Dhoni: 22 Yards & Beyond | ayeyouth.com

millions of eyes across India were glued to their TV screens. The ICC World Cup Final was in play, the dream of ending the 28 years long wait was finally within reach.



We waited with bated breath, hopeful of a victory but wary of jinxing our chances and watched closely as the Indian innings unfolded.


M.S. Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh were at the crease, two of the greatest stalwarts of the game India had produced.


The total posted by the SriLankan team was achievable but the unpredictable nature of the sport made even the most seasoned players wary of declaring the winning side beforehand.


Then came the masterstroke.


Dhoni hit a glittering six, his eyes fixated on the ball till its landing on the ground, mesmerizing the crowd at the iconic Wankhede Stadium and the millions back home.


He became a messiah, the deliverer of a long-held dream of a cricket crazed nation.

Ravi Shastri's reaction to the match-winning six, "Dhoni finishes it off in style, a magnificent strike into the crowd, India lift the World Cup after 28 years, the party starts in the dressing room, and it is an Indian captain who has been absolutely magnificent on the night of the finals" still reverberates in our ears.



It seems unusual that a person of his caliber and influence doesn't indulge in understandable vanity and egocentricity. Perhaps this is what separates him from the crowd.


His humble and calm demeanor even in the face of the greatest adversity and grandest achievements is a skill many yearn to master. He never loved taking credit, even when he deserved it. He was the quiet but reassuring presence in the background, a pillar of strength many have relied on over the years.


True to his nature, M.S.Dhoni decided to bow out of the game with a simple tweet on 15 August 2020. No fanfare, no lavish send-offs, and no last match.


A leader who refused to sing his own swan song.


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Credit: telegraphindia.com

The cricketing world, the youth who had grown up idealizing him and the many admirers he had amassed over his tenure were rightfully overcome with grief and loss.

His retirement comes amidst great pressure and speculation as to his form and the decrease of consistent performances in the past few years. Some say age has got to him while others opine he has lost his flare.


What many don't acknowledge is if Dhoni was a great batsman, he was an even better captain and wicket-keeper. The stumpings he carried out at lightning speed is the testimony of his stealth and presence of mind. He will always remain one of the best wicket-keepers of the game.


Under his leadership, India won the inaugural T20 world cup in 2007, the ODI world cup in 2011, and the Champions Trophy in 2013, making the country the only one to win all three major ICC events.



The men in blue also dominated the world rankings in all three formats under his aegis, a feat previously unheard of. He became the first non-Australian captain to win a hundred matches.


The list of achievements is endless.


Conferred with the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna awards and the Padma Bhushan award, he remains one of the most celebrated cricketers of our nation.


To understand the roots of his raging popularity and reverence, it is necessary to take a trip down memory lane.



Cricket is a relic of Colonial times, a sport the English babus brought along with their ships on our shores. Called the "Gentleman's Game", it was an exclusive sport that only the most privileged had the luxury of playing. The English left but the sport remained behind.


As India stepped into the era of Independence and the popularity of the sport reached the masses, cricket became a symbol, a great leveler. It became an outlet of claiming victory, a field where sheer talent would be tested, not a pre-existing order of servitude and mastery.



Films like "Lagaan" highlight the sentimental value cricket holds for India. It is seen as a chance to beat the white man in his own game, a chance at redemption, an arena where old scores can be settled.


If the cricket ground was a battlefield, Dhoni was one of its most able generals.


Gary Kristen, former coach of the national team once remarked, "I would go to war with Dhoni by my side."


Cricketers, especially the good ones become overnight sensations, idols who carry the beacon of the country's pride and honor, both at home and overseas. His acumen as a captain, one who brings out the best from his teammates has been attested by many cricketers who played under him.



One of the best finishers of the game, he has pulled numerous matches out of the jaws of defeat. The game wasn't over until Dhoni was at the crease.


His journey from a small town to the heart of the nation is awe-inspiring.

To think a player who was run out for a duck in his debut match in 2004, the worst possible beginning of one's career would go on to lead the side is a story that struck a chord in our hearts.



Dhoni didn't always succeed but he never stopped trying. His journey gave hopes to many who wished to scale the heights of success against all odds. Each time he set foot on the ground, the stadium echoes with chants of his name, such as the legend of Dhoni.


He was the most loved player of the most cherished game in the nation. His career has been marred with its fair share of pitfalls, allegations, and scandals but his credibility as a great player has remained fairly unscathed.


The world of cricket is undergoing massive changes. Technologically advanced systems of decision making challenge the age-old expertise of on-field umpires.



As human errors are being reduced, the DRS(Decision Review System) has earned a new nickname, the "Dhoni Review System" owing to the impeccable proficiency Dhoni displays in calling for a review and being proved right numerous times.


He was an asset, a star that is born perhaps only once in a century.

The man is an institution in himself, a legacy that will remain unparalleled.15 years of brilliant cricket,15 years of Dhoni.


Au Revoir Captain, a second innings outside the 22 yards awaits you.


#msdhoni #mahendrasinghdhoni #ayeyouth #youmatter


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