MS Dhoni: The Untold Story, directed by Neeraj Pandey (A Wednesday, Baby, Special 26), releases this Friday, making it one of the few sports biopics about a player yet to finish his/her career. Mary Kom was one of them. Many hope that Pandey’s film won’t be a hagiography that simply pays tribute to one of India’s finest captains. It’s been a while since an Indian director has gotten a biopic right. If one is to go by the trailer, there’s a lot about the man behind the stoic mask we’re yet to see or hear about. It will also be an important film for leading man Sushant Singh Rajput, who, despite experimenting with roles in mainstream cinema, is yet to really hit his stride running. He seems to have mastered the helicopter shot to emulate Dhoni’s trademark swing, he may have just taken it right down to the last over of his film career too – and he may well finish it in style.
Here are MS Dhoni’s five finest career moments, up until 2011, which seems to be the timeline of the film too:
5. Ranji Trophy Debut
A 18-year-old Mahendra Singh Dhoni made his first-class debut for Bihar against Assam in the 1999 season. He scored a half-century in the second innings (68), which set the platform for him to play as a regular wicketkeeper-batsman for Bihar for next two seasons.
4. India ‘A’ performance
Five years later, in 2004, Dhoni had already moved through the ranks after playing for Jharkhand and the East Zone, selected for a tri-series involving India A, Pakistan A and Kenya. The marauder in him was visible by now in the lower order, and he scored one half-century and two centuries against a shell-shocked Pakistan A cricket team. By now, it was clear that he loved playing against India’s most fiercest rivals – a passion that would be demonstrated a year later in the international arena.
3. Pakistan, 2005
In only his fifth ODI, a long-haired Mahi walked in and slammed 148 off 123 balls in Visakhapatnam against an attack that had Shoaib Akhtar and Mohammad Sami. India had never seen such an attacking middle-order batsman, much less a wicketkeeper (his idol has always been Adam Gilchrist). Before the nation had time to settle from this high, he broke his own record (of the highest score by an Indian keeper) by the end of the year with a shockingly cavalier 183 against Sri Lanka. This was well and truly the beginning of India’s new era of batsmanship.
2. World T20, 2007
After the disaster that was the ODI World Cup in 2007, many of the senior players were either dropped or they opted out as a new T20 format was about to take flight officially. The selectors sent what they thought was a young, inexperienced, nothing-to-lose, second-string side to the World Cup in South Africa, led by a young Dhoni, who had been recommended by Sachin Tendulkar to be captain after Rahul Dravid. Two weeks later, India had won the first ever T20 World Cup as underdogs and no-hopers, inspired by Dhoni’s leadership and Yuvraj Singh’s heroics through the tournament. This was arguably India’s finest cricketing moment since 1983, and it had come through the man who could do no wrong…
1. 2011 World Cup
28 years after winning their only ODI World Cup, India played at home and won their second – with an unforgettable Dhoni six over long-on to seal the deal. He had a very average tournament till that final, where he promoted himself up the order above Yuvraj Singh – a decision which resulted in him playing perhaps the most important captain’s innings ever played in a World Cup match – after Steve Waugh’s 1999 miracles against South Africa. Two years later, of course, Dhoni would win the rare trifecta as captain – T20, ODI and Champion’s Trophy, along with two Indian T20 league trophies and a Champion’s League to go along. No international captain had won as much in less than a decade with the team.