In August 2007, the national selectors first chose Mahendra Singh Dhoni as captain for an eventually successful World Twenty20 campaign. It later emerged that Sachin Tendulkar had quietly put in a word of recommendation, having seen enough of the wicketkeeper-batsman’s leadership qualities.
On Monday, the batting legend paid the ultimate tribute to Dhoni, picking him as the finest captain he has played under. He gracefully pushed Dhoni back into the limelight even while the skipper was flying back to his hometown Ranchi after the grand celebrations in Mumbai.
It is a major statement by the 37-year-old Tendulkar, whose international career is into its 22nd year, and is still going strong. Dhoni has won praise for the clarity and self-belief he has shown and inspired on the field.
In the surge of celebrations that followed the World Cup triumph on Saturday, the Indian players in one voice dedicated the grand success to the master batsman, who finally got the opportunity to live his dream in his sixth World Cup.
While the entire cricket world hailed Dhoni’s decisive leadership and his match-winning innings in the final, the man himself quietly stepped aside to let the team, particularly its talisman, bask in the limelight.
Before the final, Kapil Dev said a loss would not be a reflection on Dhoni’s leadership. After Tendulkar’s praise, he will be seen as the standard-bearer for future captains.