On August 15, 2020, Indian cricketer M.S. Dhoni announced his retirement from international cricket. In a country where cricket is a religion in itself, and Dhoni is considered next only to God, the news left thousands of fans crushed.
Because, over a 15-years-long career, Dhoni proved that not only was he one of the finest cricketers the world had seen, but also, an exemplary captain who led India to victory 5 times. Here's a look at his splendid innings, in photos:
1. Before his international career, Dhoni started his cricket career by playing for cricket clubs, then CCL, until ultimately becoming a part of the Bihar Ranji Team and the U-19 squad.
2. Dhoni's international career began with the ODI Bangladesh tour in 2004-05.
3. M.S. Dhoni won the man of the series, after India's 3-0 triumph at the 2005 Sri Lanka bilateral ODI series.
Jaipur stood witness to his stellar innings, as he scored an unbeaten 183 off 145 balls against Sri Lanka. It is the highest score by a keeper-batsman.
4. In 2007, Rahul Dravid hands over the reign of captaincy to M.S. Dhoni, and under his captaincy, India wins the 2007 ICC World Twenty20 championship.
5. India continues its winning streak under Dhoni and wins its first-ever bilateral ODI series victory in Sri Lanka in August 2008.
6. After he took up the Test captaincy in 2008, India won the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in 2008, 2010, and 2013.
7. Dhoni also led India to its victory against New Zealand in the 2008-09 test series. India won the title on New Zealand soil after 41 years.
8. Dhoni also led India to victory at the 2010 Asia Cup, defeating Sri Lanka by 81 runs, and ending a 15-years-long 'title drought'. He also led India to win the cup in 2016.
9. Dhoni, considered to be one of India's finest wicket-keepers, received the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2007.
10. Dhoni, who invented the 'helicopter shot' is often regarded as Captain Cool, for his calm demeanour that led India to the number one position for the first time in the ICC Test rankings, in 2009.
11. In 2009 Dhoni also became the recipient of the Padma Shri, India's fourth-highest civilian honour.
`12. In 2011, after a gap of 28 years, India hoisted its second World Cup, under Dhoni's captaincy.
He finished off the match with a six, also winning the Man of the Match award.
13. In 2011, Dhoni became the second cricketer, after Kapil Dev, to be conferred the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel by the Indian Territorial Army.
He was conferred alongside ace shooter and Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra.
14. In 2013, under Dhoni's captaincy, India won the ICC Championships Trophy. With this win, Dhoni became the only captain to lift win all three ICC tournaments.
15. In 2014, when Dhoni announced his retirement from test cricket, he had played 90 Tests for India - the most by a wicket-keeper.
To date, he remains the only wicket-keeper to have scored a double hundred in test cricket.
16. Though cricket is a team sport, no one can contest the fact that Mahi has often led his team to victory. Like he did in 2016 when he achieved a spectacular runout against Bangladesh during the T20 championship.
17. As part of IPL, Dhoni captained the Chennai Super Kings, and led them to victory consecutively in 2010 and 2011, and later, at the 2018 season.
18. In 2018, M.S Dhoni received the Padma Bhushan, India's third-highest civilian honour.
19. In 2020, M.S. Dhoni was named the captain of the ICC Men's ODI Team of the Decade.
Dhoni's impact on Indian cricket was such, that even people who were not fans of the sport felt a pang on hearing about his retirement. And that, perhaps, has been his greatest victory after all.