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Happy Birthday MS Dhoni: When A Naval Officer Requested India Captain To Make Him An Astronaut

Chennai Super Kings skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni is celebrating his 42nd birthday on Friday (July 7).

Happy Birthday MS Dhoni: When A Naval Officer Requested India Captain To Make Him An Astronaut Photo: ANI

Mahendra Singh Dhoni turns 42 years of age today but the craze and appreciation for the man has not dimmed even one bit after his international retirement back in 2020. Even at 41 years of age, few months short of his 42nd birthday, Dhoni guided Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to a record fifth Indian Premier League (IPL) basically playing the entire tournament on one leg.

One incident highlights Dhoni’s ‘demi-God’ status in this country, ever since he took over the Indian captaincy back in 2007. A few years back, when Dhoni was still the captain of the Indian cricket team, one person – who was a naval officer – came up to Dhoni and said, “Dhoni sir, I want to be India’s next astronaut. They’re planning to choose one now. I’ve been a test pilot and have completed many hours of flying. I’m the right guy. Please, please have a word with Sunita Williams. She’s also a naval officer just like me. If you speak to her, they’ll select me,” an excerpt from the book ‘The Dhoni Touch’ by Bharat Sundaresan reads.

“Back in the car on their way out, Dhoni would ask Col. Shankar, ‘Sir, yeh Sunita Williams kaun hai?’” the excerpt from the book added.

The fans keep him at such a pedestal that they believe that if Dhoni can put in a word, one can become an ‘astronaut’ in this country! This ‘Dhoni madness’ has not dimmed one bit over the years, in fact, got much stronger with each passing day.

MS Dhoni’s memorable IPL 2023

The biggest question, and possibly worry, on every fan’s mind was whether IPL 2023 was going to be Dhoni’s swansong – whether Dhoni will finally call it quits. But after managing to play the entire tournament with an injured knee, which he has subsequently got operated after IPL 2023 final in Mumbai, it is now anybody’s guess when Dhoni will retire from the T20 league.

IPL 2023 once again proved that Dhoni can not only hold his own with bat but can lead from the front as well. Even at 41 years of age, Dhoni managed to maintain a strike-rate of over 182 against the best bowlers in the world – including the likes of Mark Wood, man who was breathing fire in the third Ashes Test on Thursday – smashing 10 sixes.

There was massive disappointment as Dhoni departed for a duck in the IPL 2023 final against Gujarat Titans. For the first time in the dug-out, one could sense Dhoni wasn’t ‘Captain Cool’ or calm. There was tenseness in his eyes and demeanour as 10 runs were needed off last 2 balls. But Ravindra Jadeja proved to be the hero on that day and Dhoni who rarely displays emotion on the field lifted up his teammate on his shoulder, himself standing on probably one leg!

A day ahead of Dhoni’s birthday on Thursday, his fans in Hyderabad have reportedly installed a giant 52 feet tall cut-out in the city. Pictures of Dhoni’s cutout have also been shared on social media already.

MS Dhoni’s international career

Dhoni remains the only international captain to win 3 ICC different titles – 2007 T20 World Cup, 2011 ODI World Cup and 2013 Champions Trophy – the last of which was the final ICC trophy that Team India have won.

He scored 4876 runs in 90 Test matches with 6 centuries and 33 half-centuries, including a double hundred. Dhoni scored 10773 runs in 350 ODIs, laced up with 10 centuries and 73 half-centuries and a personal best score of 183 runs. In the shortest format (T20Is), Dhoni scored 1617 runs for India in 98 T20Is, with two fifities.

His 148 vs Pakistan at Vizag or 183 not out vs Sri Lanka in Jaipur, put Dhoni on the map in international cricket and just three years into his international career, he was handed over the reins of the Indian team after the debacle of 2007 ODI World Cup.

He led India to victory in the World T20 in 2007 and the CB Series the following year. He took over the Test captaincy later in 2008 and oversaw memorable series wins over Australia, England and New Zealand, and India went on to become No. 1 in the format.

But Dhoni’s legacy goes beyond stats and numbers and will only continue to grow years after his IPL retirement as well.