Mumbai, July 7: Jharkhand's favourite son Mahendra Singh Dhoni may have turned 30 years old today, but he has long since come of age as a national cricketer. From the time he broke into the Bihar Ranji Team as a sprightly 18-year-old, he demonstrated the aptitude to quickly scale up the ranks and secure a coveted middle-order slot with Team India in both the Test and ODI squad.
Debuting as a one-day batsman in 2004/2005, it took him all of five matches to find his groove before he slammed 148 off 123 balls against Pakistan (on the latter's home soil at that) and thus announcing his arrival. Later that year he unleashed his belligerent prowess on Sri Lanka, butchering a 183 off 145 balls as India made light work of running down 299. It was not long before, he made a foray into the Test squad, scoring his maiden century against Pakistan in 2006.
As India underwent a rough patch for the next several months, which culminated in the side's shock first-round exit in the World Cup 2007, Dhoni also underwent a slightly lean period. But both his batting ability and newly-bequeathed captaincy rose to prominence with India's triumph in the inaugural World T20 in South Africa later that year.
With that historic win, Dhoni had signaled his adeptness at being able top mould a team into a winning unit, but the Test captaincy still eluded him as Anil Kumble was preferred for the role. But when the wily leg-spinner hung up his boots, Dhoni was immediately fitted with his shoes in Nov 2008. At the helm of affairs in Tests as well now, Dhoni churned out important victories to lead India to the No. 1 Test ranking in Dec 2009.
It has been a stellar 30th year on the planet for Dhoni, successfully helping India defend its position at the top of the Test chart while leading his Indian Premier League team Chennai Superkings through a triumphant Champions League T20 and IPL4. But no one will argue that his crowning achievement thus far is his snatching of the World Cup 2011. Mahi, as the world salutes you on this ultra-special birthday, we wonder how many more glistening accolades are yet to adorn your closet...