Mahendra Singh Dhoni is loved by millions as a batsman but as a captain, he is simply worshipped.
He never followed the beaten path, carving out his own niche as captain. He remained calm on the field, both in moments of triumph and defeat.
His style made him “the captain cool” for his fans. If legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar is the “god of cricket”, then Dhoni is the “Buddha of cricket”.
His fans will miss his unorthodox decisions after his resignation as India’s limited-overs captain on Wednesday.
Dhoni decided to step down on Wednesday ahead of the ODI series against England, which begins on 15 January.
Here are five of his decisions that shocked many, but won crucial matches for India.
That Joginder trick
Dhoni led a young Indian side in the inaugural World Twenty20, and not many expected his team to do well in the newest format of the game.
Yet he not only won the 2007 tournament, but also used it as a platform to showcase his unorthodox style of captaincy.
The final was played between arch rivals Pakistan and India in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Pakistan needed 13 runs in the last over with one wicket in hand, but an in-form Misbah-ul-Haq looked set to score the winning runs.
Now any captain would go for the most experienced bowler in the team, but Dhoni did the opposite.
He picked Joginder Sharma, who was playing his fourth Twenty20 match, for the job. The decision paid off and Sharma dismissed Misbah (43 runs) with his third ball.
Pakistan lost by five runs, India won the tournament and Dhoni announced his arrival as a captain in the world of cricket with style.
Before clashing in the final of the inaugural World Twenty20, India and Pakistan also played a group match.
Games between the two sides are always tense but not many would have predicted the dramatic finish of this clash.
The match went into a bowl-out after Pakistan matched India’s score of 141, but couldn’t cross it.
Pakistan picked trusted bowlers Yasir Arafat, Umar Gul and Shahid Afridi for the bowl-out, but they all failed to hit the stumps.
Dhoni went for batsmen Robin Uthappa, Virender Sehwag and off-spinner Harbhajan Singh, who all knocked off the bails.
While Sehwag had some bowling experience, Uthappa had rarely bowled in international matches.
The unforgettable winning hit
Dhoni won the ODI World Cup in 2011 for India for the first time since 1983.
The hosts looked comfortable chasing Sri Lanka’s total of 274 in Mumbai, but when Tillakaratne Dilshan dismissed Virat Kohli, India’s chances looked uncertain at 115-3.
Dhoni, who had struggled throughout the tournament, unexpectedly promoted himself ahead of in-form Yuvraj Singh and played the innings (91 not out) of his life to finish the chase with a thundering six.
Not many Indians will ever forget the six that ended the country’s long wait for a World Cup victory.
Going for the most ‘expensive’ bowler
Hosts England looked set to win the Champions Trophy in 2013 against India with 28 needed off 18 balls, and set batsmen Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara at the crease in Birmingham.
At this stage of the game, Dhoni turned to pacer Ishant Sharma, whose earlier overs were very expensive.
Once again, his gamble worked.
Sharma, who had leaked 32 runs in his first three overs, dismissed both batsmen and ended England’s prolonged search for an international one-day title.
The ‘one-glove’ trick
India secured a thrilling one-run victory against Bangladesh last year to keep their campaign alive in the World Twenty20.
Bangladesh needed one run to win off the last ball in Bangalore, and that’s when Dhoni told Hardik Pandya to bowl a bouncer to tailender S Hom.
Dhoni expected the batsman to miss the ball and go for a run, and that’s exactly what happened.
The batsman went for a single, but Dhoni, who had removed one glove in readiness for the final ball, ran out non-striker Mustafizur Rahman.
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