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MS Dhoni and his super special connection with Visakhapatnam

MS Dhoni, the former India World Cup winning skipper, is on the cusp of 10,000 ODI runs but his journey to success began at the ACA-VDCA stadium in Visakhapatnam 12 years ago.

india vs sri lanka 2017 Updated: Dec 15, 2017 23:01 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Hindustan Times, Visakhapatnam
India vs Sri Lanka,MS Dhoni,Visakhapatnam
MS Dhoni will look to reach 10,000 runs in ODIs when India face Sri Lanka in the third ODI match in Visakhapatnam. (PTI)

MS Dhoni is on the cusp of a special milestone ahead of the third and deciding ODI against Sri Lanka at the ACA-VDCA stadium here. The former Indian cricket team skipper needs 102 runs to become only the second wicket-keeper batsman in ODI history after Kumar Sangakkara to go past 10,000 runs.

Achieving the milestone at this venue will be apt, for it was at this stadium, against Pakistan 12 years ago that the seeds for Dhoni’s India success were sown.

Battering Pakistan

In 2004, Dhoni was included in the Indian cricket team on the back of strong domestic performances. However, his debut did not go according to expectation as he was run out for a golden duck against Bangladesh at Chittagong in 2004. After scores of 12, 7*, 3 in his next three ODIs, it looked like Dhoni’s promising career would never take off.

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However, during the second ODI against Pakistan in Visakhapatnam, things changed. Coming to bat at No.3 after the fall of Sachin Tendulkar, Dhoni proceeded to change the course of the match with a swashbuckling knock full of dazzling strokes. His 148 off 123 included 15 fours and four sixes and such was the nature of his knock that even Virender Sehwag’s 74 off 40 balls was overshadowed.

India won the match by 58 runs but the knock had given Indian cricket a new superstar and Visakhapatnam an innings to remember. Recently in February 2016, Dhoni had tweeted about the city from where his rise to super stardom had begun. “Vizag, one of the cities, that I would love to live in, nice and beautiful landscape with beach and home to my first big innings,” the former skipper had tweeted.

Recreating magic 12 years on?

In 2005, Dhoni had come to Visakhapatnam on the back of a poor start to his international career but his knock demonstrated that he belonged in the highest level. With captaincy, he matured and became the finisher who took India over the line in numerous last-over finishes. He also became the only captain to win all three major ICC tournaments.

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But this is 2017. Dhoni is no longer the captain. And there have been question marks on his ability to finish games and launch big hits. However, Dhoni has silenced critics for the time being with a magnificent 65 in Dharamsala on a pitch where the next best score was 19 by Kuldeep Yadav.

The Visakhapatnam ODI gives an opportunity to Dhoni to recreate his magic 12 years ago. Getting to 10,000 runs and helping India to a series win against Sri Lanka will go a long way in ensuring the detractors are silenced at least until the 2019 World Cup.

First Published: Dec 15, 2017 19:18 IST