Sportsmanship has become a rarity these days and the ugly spat between David Warner and Quinton de Kock rekindled the debate of spirit of the game again. Every game is a wonderful sight if it is played in the right spirit and the former India captain MS Dhoni has always played the game in the right spirit.
During his captaincy tenure, India won the ICC World T20 in 2007, ICC World Cup in 2011, and ICC Champions Trophy in 2013. Despite these accomplishments, he made sure his team showed sportsmanship.
The wicket-keeper batsman is known for his calmness on the field, which earned him tags such as ‘Captain Cool’ and ‘Cool Cucumber’. He has led Chennai Super Kings in eight seasons so far and they have won ‘Fair Play’ award six times. He has displayed true sportsman spirit on many occasions and let us take a look at a few of them.
#1 Dhoni offering captaincy to Saurav Ganguly for one last time
Sourav Ganguly changed the complexion of Indian cricket. He took over when the team was badly affected by the match-fixing scandal. However, with his aggressive captaincy, he led India to many memorable wins.
Ganguly played his farewell Test against Australia in Nagpur in November 2008. Dhoni, who was leading the side asked Ganguly to lead the side as a token of respect for the former captain. Dada never saw this coming and was surprised by this move.
Even though he turned down the offer first, Dhoni asked again when the match came to a close, and this time Dada couldn’t refuse the offer. Ganguly, one of India’s most successful captains, led the side for one more time and one couldn’t have asked for a better farewell.
#2 Dhoni sportsmanship in Ian Bell’s controversial run out
India and England locked horns at Trent Bridge in 2011 and in England’s second innings. Ian Bell was given run out when he was batting on 137 in a controversial way. Eoin Morgan flicked the last ball of the 66th over to deep square leg where Praveen Kumar was positioned.
They ran three and Bell walked half-way down the pitch, then moved to towards dressing room for the tea break, thinking bowl raced away for four.
In the meantime, Abhinav Mukund took the bails off and appealed for a runout. Umpires checked the replays and declared Bell as out. During the break, England captain Andrew Strauss and coach Andy Flower requested Dhoni to withdraw the appeal. The Indian captain withdrew his team’s appeal and decided to call back Bell.
This gesture made the touring team receive the standing ovation. Dhoni was hailed for upholding the spirit of the game and he won the ICC Spirit of Cricket award for that year.
#3 Dhoni lets Kohli score winning runs
We have often seen MS Dhoni in the role of a finisher. Gone are those days where he used to handle pressure situations and finishing off the matches in his own style. Nevertheless, he is still one of the best in the business.
In the fifth ODI against Sri Lanka in 2017 at Columbo, Dhoni let Virat Kohli play the role of a finisher. In that match, Kohli played a match-winning knock of 110 from 116 balls. When Kohli was batting on 109, Dhoni came to the crease and took a single in the first ball he faced as he could bring Kohli on strike to score the winning runs. The current captain was all smiles and he scored the winning runs.
Dhoni did the same in 2014 ICC World T20 semi-final as well. Dhoni defended a ball so that Kohli could finish the match. “You have batted really well. What else can I gift you?” the then captain quipped.
#4 Dhoni handing over the trophy to youngsters
Cricket is a team game. Each and every individual has a role to play if a team is to win. Generally, the captain collects the trophy, and Dhoni has done it many times.
After collecting the trophy, Dhoni always handed over the trophy to youngsters. It is a great gesture because youngsters could enjoy the moment more.
In 2013, India toured West Indies for a tri-series, and Sri Lanka was the third team. Dhoni was injured and Kohli led the side during the league stage.
He came back to the team in the final and finished the game in a last-over thriller. When Dhoni received the trophy, he shared it with Kohli as the latter led the team well in the group stages.
#5 Dhoni turns to physio for Faf du Plessis
South Africa toured India in 2015 and many SA cricketers couldn’t bear the humidity and heat in October and were tired. Though Quinton de Kock managed to attain the three-digit score, he lost all his energy to the humidity in the fifth ODI.
Faf du Plessis went through the same phase as he approached his hundred. When he attempted to hit a six, unfortunately, he lost his balance and fell over.
The South African star seemed to struggle a lot with his cramps. We could literally see the pain in his eyes. Dhoni then turned his role to that of a physio. He held the legs of du Plessis in the air and allowed his muscles relax till the medical staff arrived in the middle.
MS and Faf played together for CSK and the incident showed the good rapport they share. Cricket is a gentleman’s game after all.