Former Indian captain MS Dhoni turns 39 today and over a 17-year career, he has achieved it all in the game of cricket. Wishes have poured in for the wicket-keeper, from various former and current cricketers to teams like his Indian Premier League (IPL) side Chennai Super Kings (CSK).
Amidst the outpouring of love for MS Dhoni, we have seen his best moments revisited and his worst moments sympathised with. We have been witness to fantastic highlight reels and poignant tributes. We have even watched Dwayne Bravo's addictive song dedicated to his CSK captain.
It is almost impossible for a man like MS Dhoni to have cricketing aspects not scrutinised to the fullest, but he has so many incredible facets to his game that it is simply impossible to discuss them all.
In this article, we take a look at four aspects of MS Dhoni's genius that are often overlooked.
#4 MS Dhoni has been compatible with all coaching staff
Over the course of his international and domestic career, MS Dhoni has been involved in very few controversies. We have never seen him have an open rift with the coaching staff of all the teams he has been part of, something quite unusual in the high-octane sport that is Indian cricket.
Virat Kohli had quite an ugly spat with former Indian head coach Anil Kumble, with a reported difference in styles contributing to the latter's resignation from the post. The controversial Greg Chappell had a tumultuous stint, with his sacking of Sourav Ganguly from the role at the helm ripping the team's chemistry apart.
But MS Dhoni, who has worked with Gary Kirsten, Duncan Fletcher, Ravi Shastri, Sanjay Bangar, and Anil Kumble, as well as with Stephen Fleming at CSK, has got along with all of them. The captain-coach combination is a vastly underrated aspect of any sporting team, and MS Dhoni's success under all these leaders exemplifies the fact.
#3 MS Dhoni's reading of the game always helps his batting partner
Many former and current Indian cricketers have stated that batting with MS Dhoni is akin to having a man on the inside in the opposition, due to the CSK skipper's uncanny reading of the game.
Ravindra Jadeja once said - 'If you want to learn batting, bat with MS Dhoni'. Hardik Pandya has often credited MS Dhoni for helping him learn the art of finishing. Suresh Raina has heaped praise on the blessing that is batting with MS Dhoni.
The lower-order batsman is always a step ahead of the opposition, and this is reflected not only in his batting and his advice but in his running between the wickets as well. Great runners between the wickets understand the abilities of their partners as well as their own, and there is no one better at this than MS Dhoni.
He makes batting with the tail look easy, death bowlers look amateur, and cricket look like a game of chess.
#2 MS Dhoni controls the game with spinners in the middle-overs like no other captain
A pattern that has made itself known, both at CSK and the Indian team, is that MS Dhoni prefers spinners to pacers, and not without reason. But in the middle overs, which always determine the result of the game, MS Dhoni reaches his tactical best.
Both as a captain and as a player under Virat Kohli, MS Dhoni's accurate field placements and constant advice from behind the stumps have made even part-timers bowl their full quota of overs. The likes of Suresh Raina, Yusuf Pathan, and Kedar Jadhav have all excelled with Dhoni's backing.
Needless to say, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, and Harbhajan Singh have feasted on batsmen in the middle overs. Kuldeep Yadav has all but fallen at MS Dhoni's feet asking him to return to the Indian team.
#1 MS Dhoni has the ability to get the best out of all his players
This is by far the most important quality for a captain to have and MS Dhoni has showcased his ability to elevate his players' performances time and time again. In his presence, players seem to just inspire themselves to a higher level.
At CSK, pace bowlers like Ishwar Pandey, Doug Bollinger, Sudeep Tyagi, Mohit Sharma, Ashish Nehra and maybe even Deepak Chahar have perhaps performed beyond their capabilities. Batsmen like Shane Watson and Kedar Jadhav, who didn't exactly set the world on fire at other franchises before joining CSK, found their calling at Chepauk.
For India, Yuvraj Singh came back from cancer treatment to flourish under the leadership of his good friend. Even future legends of the game like Ashwin and Suresh Raina haven't played nearly as often for Virat Kohli's India.
This unreal ability of MS Dhoni can be attributed to him leading from the front, giving his players the freedom to express themselves, and the backing that is personified through consistent runs of games. Once MS Dhoni is convinced that he can get the best out of a player, he backs him to the hilt - a trait that has reaped rewards for over a decade.
In the 2007 T20 World Cup, Joginder Sharma and RP Singh exceeded expectations to star in the new format. Even in the 2011 World Cup, Munaf Patel, Sreesanth, and Piyush Chawla featured for India - would they have succeeded under other captains? You could go out on a limb and say probably not.
Irrespective of how his career finishes, MS Dhoni will retire from the game as one of the greatest leaders and thinkers cricket has ever seen.
We at Sportskeeda would like to wish him a very happy birthday!
Also Read: 5 greatest MS Dhoni finishes in the IPL