4th of January of 2017 was just like any other day until MS Dhoni shocked his fans with a surprise announcement. He announced that he was stepping down from the limited overs captaincy with immediate effect. For his fans all over the world, that was it! End of an exhilarating era.
It had stunned everyone,as it wasn't meant to be. Dhoni's surprises don't surprise his fans who have followed him for a long time. But still no one saw it coming. But that is how MSD does his announcements. He has done it throughout his career. His decisions are well thought, but come down like a bolt of lightning. He can pull out a trick out of his hat anytime, but be rest assured, it won't be a rabbit every time.
His contribution as a skipper was not limited to winning the 50-over World Cup, World Cup T20 and Champions trophy. Dhoni contributed in building a team for the future, so that the next skipper will have a team to play with for a few years, before leaving his own stamp on the team. The 36-year-old was also trying to improve the team as much as possible.
One who has seen the transition of Indian cricket team since the last decade, can easily differentiate how much this team has changed for good. Indian team was hardly listed among the best fielding nations. MS Dhoni wasn't shy of dropping seniors from the team, if their presence hampered the fielding level of his team.
There are bowling and batting conditions which might influence the two aspects of the game. But fielding remains unaffected and should be consistent in being wonderful every time. Hence it was important to build a strong fielding unit, something that MS Dhoni worked hard on and managed to achieve.
MS Dhoni aka Mahi's captaincy wasn't always about gambling and taking wild decisions. Plotting and planning were his main attributes. He had to think for his bowlers and also from the view of the opposition batsmen. Dhoni was the master of playing mind games with the opposition.
Dhoni has shown that the intangible side of cricket is as important as the tangible side. As a bowler, all you can do is bowl in the right areas and maintain your line and length. If the batsman starts pulling out things out of the box, bowlers get their hands tied up. That's when you need a brain like Dhoni to back your abilities and also give you confidence. His masterplans did wonders for the side, when they were executed to the tee.
One of the famous instances is from Indian Premier League 2010 final between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings. The bizarre fielding placement for power hitter Kieron Pollard can never be forgotten. Dhoni's masterful planning assured CSK's first title victory in IPL.
He could have easily stretched his captaincy till World Cup 2019. Most of the cricket pundits had guessed that Dhoni would at least continue his captaincy till Champions Trophy 2017.
But MSD thought it was the right time for him to step down, as Virat Kohli was ready to take over from him and lead India into the 2019 World Cup. Dhoni knew this and unselfishly gave up the captaincy.
"I was waiting for the right time, was waiting for Virat to ease in into test format. Feel this team has the potential to win in all formats", he had said after stepping down from captaincy.
Dhoni has rarely cared about numbers unless it is helping his team. One more ODI match could have taken him to 200 matches as an ODI captain.
Though, him stepping down from the limited overs captaincy was not as shocking as his Test retirement; his decision to do so has left a part a fear in the heart of every Dhoni fan, that he might announce his retirement from the game unexpectedly.
However, when the day comes, it will be one of the saddest days for every cricket and MS Dhoni fan all over India and in the world.