Mahendra Singh Dhoni has come a long way in his cricketing career. Train Ticket Examiner to one of the richest cricketer who broke and made new records in cricket. Recent feather in his cap was he was named as the only India sportsman to be listed on Forbe’s list of the world’s most valuable athlete brands. Forbes’s Most Valuable Athlete Brands in Sports lists 10 athletes whose endorsement income exceeded the endorsement income earned by their peers by the largest amount during the past year. The list is topped by American basketball player LeBron James and includes the famous golfer Tiger Woods and tennis stars Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
James tops the list with a brand value of $37 million in 2014. Woods is ranked second and has a 2014 brand value of $36 million. On the third spot is Federer, whose brand value in 2014 is $32 million. Dhoni is ranked fifth with a brand value of $20 million in 2014. The list also includes Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt on number 6, Portugal and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo on 7, Argentine professional footballer Lionel Messi on the 9 and Nadal on the 10 position.
Dhoni’s Early Career
Dhoni was born in a small town named Ranchi in Jharkhand where he initially excelled in badminton and football and also played at district and club level in these sports. Once his football coach sent him to play cricket for a local cricket club in which he impressed everyone with his wicket keeping skill and started playing regularly. Seeing his performance he was picked for Vinoo Mankad Trophy Under-16 championship in which he performed very well and from then Dhoni focused on his cricket. In 1998 Dhoni was selected by Deval Sahay to play for the Central Coal Fields Limited CCL team. Dhoni was latter included in the Bihar U-19 squad for the 1998-99 season and scored 176 runs in 5 matches. In season 1999–2000 Dhoni’s contribution in the tournament included 488 runs (9 matches, 12 innings), 5 fifties, 17 catches and 7 stumping.
Dhoni made his Ranji Trophy debut for Bihar in the 1999–2000 seasons as an eighteen-year-old. Dhoni scored his maiden first-class century while playing for Bihar against Bengal in the 2000/01 season in a losing cause. Dhoni’s performance in the 2002-03 season included three half-centuries in the Ranji Trophy and a couple of half-centuries in the Deodhar Trophy as he started gaining recognition for his lower-order contribution as well as hard-hitting batting style. In the 2003/04 season, Dhoni scored a century (128*) against Assam in the first match of the Ranji ODI tournament. He was part of the East Zone squad that won the Deodhar Trophy that year and contributed with 244 runs in 4 matches. In the Duleep Trophy finals, Dhoni was picked over international cricketer Deep Dasgupta to represent East Zone.
Finding place in India A Team and ODI matches
Dhoni’s talent was discovered via the BCCI’s small-town talent-spotting initiative TRDW. Dhoni was discovered by TRDO PC Podar, captain of Bengal in the 1960s, when he saw Dhoni play for Jharkhand at a match in Jamshedpur in 2003, and sent a report to the National Cricket Academy. He was recognized for his efforts in the 2003/04 season, especially in the ODI format and was picked for the India A squad for a tour of Zimbabwe and Kenya. Against the Zimbabwe XI in Harare Sports Club, Dhoni had his best wicket-keeping effort with 7 catches and 4 stumpings in the match. In the tri-nation tournament involving Kenya, India A and Pakistan A, Dhoni helped India A chase down their target of 223 against Pakistan A with a half-century. Continuing his good performance, he scored back to back centuries – 120 and 119* against the same team. Dhoni scored 362 runs in 6 innings at an average of 72.40 and his performance in the series received attention from the then Indian captain – Sourav Ganguly and Ravi Shastri amongst others.
With Dhoni making a mark in the India A squad, he was picked in the ODI squad for the Bangladesh tour in 2004/05. Dhoni did not have a great start to his ODI career, getting run out for a duck on debut. In spite of an average series against Bangladesh, Dhoni was picked for the Pakistan ODI series. In the second match of the series, Dhoni, in his fifth one-day international, scored 148 in Vishakapatnam off only 123 deliveries. Dhoni’s 148 surpassed the earlier record for the highest score by an Indian wicket-keeper, a record that he would re-write before the end of the year. In Sri Lankan bilateral ODI series held in 2005 Sri Lanka had set India a target of 299. In reply, India lost Tendulkar early and Dhoni was promoted to accelerate the scoring and ended the game with an unbeaten 183 off 145 balls winning the game for India. The innings set various records including the highest individual score in ODI cricket in the second innings that still stands. Dhoni was awarded the Man of the Series award for his efforts and in December 2005 he was rewarded a B-grade contract by the BCCI.
Captain of the Indian Cricket Team
He was elected as captain of the Indian squad for the World Twenty20 in September 2007. He led India to the ICC World Twenty 20 trophy in South Africa with a victory over arch-rivals Pakistan in an intensely fought final on 24 September 2007, and became the second Indian captain to have won a World Cup in any form of cricket after Kapil Dev. He then went on to become the ODI captain of the Indian team for the seven-match ODI series against Australia in September 2007. He made his debut as full-time Test captain of India during the fourth and final Test against Australia at Nagpur in November 2008 replacing Anil Kumble who was injured in the third test and who then announced his retirement. It was under his captaincy that India climbed to No. 1 in the ICC Test Rankings in December 2009. Dhoni topped the ICC ODI Batsman rankings for several months in 2009 until Michael Hussey from Australia replaced him at the top spot at the beginning of 2010.
After winning the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup final against Sri Lanka on 2 April 2011 with his match winning knock of unbeaten 91, Tendulkar heaped praises on Dhoni, claiming him to be the best captain he has played under. Tendulkar mentioned that it was Dhoni’s calm influence that was rubbing off on all his team-mates and described Dhoni’s handling of pressure was incredible. In March 2013, Dhoni became the most successful Indian Test captain when he eclipsed Sourav Ganguly’s record of 21 victories from 49 Tests. Ganguly also said in an interview to a news channel that Dhoni is the all-time greatest captain of India and he has a great record to support this credential.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni identifies as being a Rajput is from village Lvali of Uttarakhand. Dhoni’s parents moved from Uttarakhand to Ranchi. Dhoni has a sister Jayanti and a brother Narendra. He is a fan of Adam Gilchrist and his childhood idols were cricket teammate Sachin Tendulkar, Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan and singer Lata Mangeshkar. Shreya Ghoshal is his current favorite singer. Dhoni married Sakshi Singh Rawat, a native of Dehradun, Uttarakhand, on 4 July 2010. A biographical film based on the life of Dhoni, titled M. S. Dhoni: The Untold Story is also in the making and set to be released in 2015. The film features Sushant Singh Rajput playing the role of Dhoni. The film is directed by Neeraj Pandey and produced by Rhiti Sports Management, a company that manages Dhoni’s commercial interests.
He is one batsman who has made India proud and set an example as a captain for others to follow. India needs more and more players like him. With an excellent track record and so many new records made which are yet to be broken he is one cricketer who is competition to everyone. Let us see if he will be able to climb up the list and topple up above his 5th ranking next year. What do you say? Will he be able to achieve this?