“From 1929 hrs consider me as Retired”; an instagram post by one of India’s favorite cricketers and the whole nation came to a standstill. Completely unexpected from someone who keeps his personal life away from social media to announce his retirement from international cricket on a social media platform. But then, it is MS Dhoni that we are talking about.

When a long-haired young wicket-keeper batsman with all the swag he had walked into the middle to bat for the first time for India on December 17, 2004, little did anyone know that the man was going to be one of India’s best white ball cricketers ever. Especially after a run-out that made him walk back to the dressing room for a duck on debut. But what transpired next changed Indian cricket as well as the way we look at Indian cricket forever.

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Dhoni’s Impact on the Masses:

MS Dhoni’s impact and contribution can not be measured based on just records and stats. He is much more than his outstanding numbers. Dhoni has been a phenomenon; an inspiration to millions, an assemblage of life lessons on and off the field.

With his batting and wicket-keeping, which were far from what copybook style cricket is, Dhoni showed how someone can be unorthodox yet successful. We need not follow a fixed method to achieve what we want, but follow the method that suits us the best.

The term ‘fortune favors the brave‘ can not have a better example to show than MS Dhoni. As a 22-year old boy he left the job of a ticket collector, being a middle-class boy from a small town in a part of India which values a government job more than anything else, to pursue his dreams and went on to lead India to a couple of World Cup wins.

[Also read – 7 Underrated Knocks in Overseas Tests by MS Dhoni]

Dhoni showed us that risks do pay and there is no single correct way to success. You just need to keep trying and believe in yourself. The best way to get the best out of yourself is to back your abilities when pushed against the wall. And MS has done that all his career.

MS has backed his abilities in the most difficult of times and of course there is no need to mention the amount of success he has achieved with it. All those nail biting finishes and goosebump moments for over a decade and a half and we now know what wonders one can do when he backs himself.

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Brutally honest in self-assessment and staying true to himself, MS Dhoni has always believed that self-improvement is not possible without self-honesty. You cannot improve unless you are not true to yourself and to your goals, unless you are not ready to accept the shortcomings.

A firm believer of the fact that process is more important than results, Dhoni focussed on how doing the small things right helps in achieving the long term goals. Taking one game at a time and not thinking too far ahead, living in the present and making the most of it has always been his mantra.

Anything on MS Dhoni is incomplete without a mention of his ability to control his emotions. The Captain Cool we saw on our television screens did not let anyone guess his mind, thanks to his expression, or the lack of it. It is not that he did not feel the pressure, anger, or pain, he just chose not to show them, and hence not let the opposition get any edge.

When he accepted wins and defeats with equal grace, MS taught us to not to get too carried away with success and not too bogged down in case of failure. Humility in success and gracefulness in failure is what helps us deal with various aspects of life in the best possible way.

By accepting defeats from the front and putting the team ahead in wins, Dhoni showed the virtues of a great leader. Him not giving up captaincy amidst immense pressure post the disastrous overseas tours in 2012 showed the responsibility a leader should have in building a team and not give up when criticised.

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The man with 7 on his back inspired millions. He almost instantly connected with the public’s emotions. A middle-class boy from a small town achieving what he did taught us all to dream. Common man could relate to his struggles and his journey, and Dhoni became the nation’s heartthrob.

From switching off TVs when Sachin got out to having our hopes alive till Dhoni was there, Indian cricket changed forever. More than all those wins and trophies, Dhoni’s biggest contribution to Indian cricket has to be the hope and belief he instilled in the fans.

Dhoni started and ended his career with run outs, but ran the fastest between the wickets inbetween. While the former was looked as a normal happening, the later left the entire nation in tears and disbelief. This was Dhoni’s impact, the sheer belief we had till he was there on the crease despite the waning abilities.

The fact that the last scenes of MS Dhoni in blues were him returning teary-eyed back to the dressing room with his World Cup dream shattered will hurt forever. A glorious career that MS had certainly deserved a better end. But the decision to retire without any fuss has to be respected, just like we have done for most of his decisions so far.

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Dhoni was the last remnant of a golden era, the bridge between a glorious past and a dominant future. A run-out to begin with, a run-out to end, countless memories in-between, MS Dhoni will go down as one of India’s finest white-ball cricketers. The picture of Dhoni hitting the six to win the World Cup for India after 28 years will remain etched in our minds forever.

Thank you for everything MSD. You are not just a cricketer, you are an emotion the entire nation connects with. You have retired from the game, but the impact you had will stay on forever. And like Harsha Bhogle said “Aap pal do pal ke shayar nahi, aap har ek pal ke shayar hain”.