MS Dhoni might have retired from international cricket three years ago, with only sporadic on-field appearances in the IPL since, but that hasn’t stopped the former India captain from trending on social media on his 42nd birthday. Some of it could be attributed to the fifth IPL title that he led CSK to, hobbling on a knee. But there’s much more to it than mere recency bias. Dhoni’s legacy goes far beyond his savage hitting, his icy cool demeanour and the numbers he has racked up in his career—the keeper-batter is one of the most iconic cricketers of his generation.
Nothing about Dhoni has been conventional. Born in Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand, outside geographies that have traditionally birthed India’s cricketing royalties, Dhoni was a ticket inspector with the Indian Railways before he decided to write his own story. After a wobbly start to his international career, he announced his arrival with a murderous 148 against Pakistan in an ODI at Visakhapatnam in 2005. The rest, as they say, is history.
His batting isn’t the most pleasing to the eye, his keeping technique unorthodox at best, but Dhoni can throw the textbook out of the window with a blink-and-you-miss swipe of the stumps that will set the benchmark for the next generation. One can write reams on the achievements of Dhoni, but the tallest of those could be summed up in four words: He changed the game.