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Dhoni rising, India shining

Last updated on: August 11, 2009 

'Under Dhoni, India will become No 1'

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Harish Kotian

India is on the verge of taking over the No 1 ranking in ODIs. Placed second, behind South Africa, the team needs to win the upcoming tri-series in Sri Lanka to clinch the coveted top spot, which would be just reward for an outstanding record in the last 12 months.

And the man responsible for the much of the success in the last two seasons is none other than the captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Former New Zealand fast bowling legend Richard Hadlee had not long ago predicted: 'Under Dhoni, India will become the world No 1 team'. How true his prophesy is turning out to be.

Since taking over as skipper, Dhoni has steered India to heights never scaled before: a tri-series victory in Australia, and maiden ODI series wins in Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

Under him, India lost just three ODI series out of ten, two of which two were in finals of multi-nation tournaments.

He started his captaincy in one-dayers on a sour note, as India lost 2-4 to Australia at home, but since then conquered almost every frontier in his path.

Dhoni has captained India in 55 ODIs, out of which the team won 33 for a success percentage of 60.

The feature in Dhoni's captaincy over the last two years is his calm approach even in difficult situations; there is no doubt that under him a young Indian team is continuing to evolve as a major force in world cricket.


Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Photographs: Reuters
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Tough baptism to captaincy

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Mahendra Singh Dhoni's first taste of ODI captaincy turned out to be bitter. The all-conquering Australians again confirmed their supremacy as World champions as they routed India 4-2 in their own backyard.

The famed Indian batting was outdone by their Aussie counterparts, but Dhoni, despite all the pressure, was able to make a decent contribution of 176 runs in seven matches at 35.20.

Result: Australia beat hosts India 4-2 in a seven-match series in 2007-08 (one match was abandoned)


Image: Australia captain Ricky Ponting (centre) celebrates with his team-mates
Photographs: Reuters
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When India packed up Pakistan

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Dhoni's maiden ODI series victory as captain could not have come against a better opponent.

The Indian batting was back at its best and firing on all cylinders as India registered a convincing 3-2 series win.

Yuvraj Singh (272 runs) and Sachin Tendulkar (259) were the major contributors while Dhoni chipped in with 185 runs while also showing traits that he was here to stay as skipper.

Result: Hosts India beat Pakistan 3-2 in a five-match series in 2007-08


Image: Dhoni (right) celebrates with Yuvraj Singh after beating Pakistan
Photographs: Reuters
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India's young guns shine Down Under

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This could rank as one of India's best victories and, perhaps, Dhoni's finest hour as captain.

After the controversial loss in the Test series against Australia, India's young ODI team showed where the future belonged as they stunned Australia 2-0 in the best-of-three finals of the CB tri-series, also involving Sri Lanka.

Sachin Tendulkar was once again the cornerstone of the triumphant campaign, but it was Dhoni's astute leadership that saw India outplay the Aussies in their backyard.

A new era was being unveiled in Indian cricket, with a sudden flow of talented youngsters as per Dhoni's wish list, even as seniors like Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid were being shown the exit door.

Result: India beat Australia 2-0 in the best-of-three finals to win the CB Series 2007-08


Image: Dhoni exults after India's triumph over Australia in the CB series
Photographs: Reuters
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Dhoni's first big setback

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It was not the loss that had Dhoni worried but the manner in which India lost against Pakistan in the final of the Kitply Cup triangular series.

India came into the title clash as favourites after routing Bangladesh and Pakistan in the group matches, but paid a huge price for complacency when it really mattered.

Dhoni tried his level best with the bat in the final but India ended up short as the wicketkeeper-batsman lost his first ODI series as captain.

Result: India lost to Pakistan in the final of the Kitply Cup tri-series in Dhaka, in 2008


Image: Dhoni shaking hands with Pakistan captain Shoaib Malik before the Kitply Cup in Bangladesh
Photographs: Reuters
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India stumble at final hurdle again

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India dominated the league stages of the Asia Cup tournament and looked favourites for the title, only to stumble in the final for the second successive tournament.

This time it was Sri Lanka's Ajantha Mendis who flummoxed the inexperienced Indian batting line-up with his mystery spin bowling.

Dhoni latter admitted that his young batsmen could not pick Mendis, who took six wickets in the game. Otherwise, it was a very productive series for the young Indian batsmen, who proved they were worthy replacements to the seniors.

Result: Sri Lanka beat India in the final of the Asia Cup in Karachi in 2008


Image: Dhoni walks back to the pavilion after being dismissed by Ajantha Mendis
Photographs: Reuters
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India tame the Lankan Lions

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Dhoni and his boys created history when they outclassed Sri Lanka 3-2 to register their first ever ODI series win in the island nation.

Dhoni led from the front with the bat along with the young Suresh Raina, as this time India came up with a solution to tame Mendis and Muttiah Muralitharan.

The Indian fast bowlers -- Zaheer Khan, Munaf Patel and Praveen Kumar -- also came up with the goods and were ably supported by spinners Harbhajan Singh and Pragyan Ojha.

Result: India beat hosts Sri Lanka 3-2 in a five-match series in 2008

 

Image: Dhoni and Suresh Raina making a loud appeal
Photographs: Reuters
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India rout the Poms

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India's momentum was now gathering steam in one-day cricket and England had to bare the brunt of it.

The visitors were comprehensively outplayed in the first five matches before the terrorist attack in Mumbai saw the last two matches being cancelled.

Whatever England tried, India had answers to everything. While Yuvraj Singh enjoyed his role as the senior batsmen in the side with two blazing centuries, Virender Sehwag made a mockery of the English attack with four fifties in five matches.

Result: India beat England 5-0 in a five-match series in November 2008 (two matches were cancelled)


Image: Dhoni taking Yuvraj for a ride on a bike
Photographs: Reuters
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India conquer Lanka again

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India once again got the better of Sri Lanka at home, courtesy a strong display by their frontline batsmen.

While Sri Lanka skipper Mahela Jayawardene struggled with the bat, Dhoni fired on all cylinders with 266 runs in five matches.

He impressed everyone with his clever use of part-time bowlers and regularly shuffled the batting order with great success.

Dhoni had fired a clear warning to his players, saying everyone should be able to contribute with the bat and ball.

"If you can rotate your arm, you should be ready to bowl," he told his team-mates. Not surprisingly, India's superb all-round skills saw them triumph 4-1.

Result: India beat hosts Sri Lanka 4-1 in a five-match series in January-February 2009.


Image: Dhoni poses with the trophy after India beat Sri Lanka 4-1 in the five-match ODI series
Photographs: Reuters
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India break Kiwi jinx

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India broke their jinx in New Zealand when they romped home to a 3-1 series victory in the five-match series.

Virender Sehwag sealed the series win in blazing style when he hammered India's first century in one-dayers (in 60 deliveries) in the fourth match.

Tendulkar continued his golden run with the bat, scoring 244 runs in three matches including a mammoth 163 not out.

No praise was enough for Dhoni, who had now written another golden chapter in Indian cricketing history with this famous victory.

Result: India beat hosts New Zealand 3-1 in a five-match series in March 2009.


Image: Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh celebrate a dismissal
Photographs: Reuters
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India's Caribbean joy

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India managed to soothe some pain following the early exit in the ICC World Twenty20 with a 2-1 series win in the West Indies in a rain-affected four-match series.

Dhoni fought off indifferent form in the Twenty20 World Cup came good with the bat. He was the highest scorer for the team with 182 runs in four matches and helped clinch the series with a thrilling win in the third ODI.

Overall, it ended a good season for the Indian team, who made the second position their own.

They trail South Africa by one rating point in the ICC ODI rankings and a win in the tri-series in Sri Lanka will see them soar to number one, an achievement Dhoni will so dearly love.


Image: Dhoni in action against West Indies
Photographs: Reuters
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