People say life comes a full circle. You started your career with a runout and it most probably ended today with another. Wish things would have turned out differently. 25 of 9? You would have walked past it 7/10 times. But you can't control destiny, can you? No one in this country would be more upset than you but you will never let us know.
"When we lost in England and Australia, I asked MS how he doesn't get frustrated. He said that he is equally frustrated but if he shows that, who will the team look up to?" - Laxman
Nothing defines you better than this.
Whatever I say about you today would have already been told and written a thousand times. I don't think there is anything else that I can add to your contributions to this nation. You have arguably been the greatest player to wear the blue colour for the country. There is absolutely no one who can deny the fact.
Let me take this opportunity to thank you for something else. Let me thank you for being a role model for lacs and lacs of youth across different small towns in the country. Thank you for giving them hope that they too can be successful. Thank you for giving a town like Ranchi, the courage to think big.
The city of Ranchi has seen two phases. The pre-Dhoni phase and the post-Dhoni phase. The pre-Dhoni Ranchi was like every other conservative mid-tier town in the country. A town where the dreams of its people were restricted to becoming an Engineer or a doctor or an IAS officer. Everyone was in a rush to achieve it. Every parent wanted their sons to keep short hairs because that was the symbol of decency. Every child in the town must have got the famous Katora cut once in their life.
People were unaware of the existence of anything other than this simple life. Cricket was always a religion but, in people's mind, it's God could only come from a tier-1 city like Mumbai. Then came the December of 2004 and everything changed. There was this young well-built guy from Ranchi, flaunting his long hairs and breaking all stereotypes, about to make his debut as a wicketkeeper for India. Most of the people in the city were unaware of who this man is. I remember I was in my coaching class bowling in the nets and everyone was discussing this guy and how he played brilliantly in India A series that led to his selection in the national team. Our visiting coach Chanchal Bhattacharya came running in shouting 'Ye mera bachha hai, aaj India ke lie khelega'.
Nothing comes instantly and Dhoni's acceptance had the same fate. His performance in his initial 3-4 matches was poor and the city thought that they are witnessing another Saba Karim. That his selection to the national team was just a fluke and he would be dropped soon. But as everyone knows, when Dada backs a player, there has to be something special in him. He was pushed to bat at 3 against Pakistan and there was no turning back after that. Ranchi too never turned back. Things started changing. Schools which never thought of anything other than studies started forming cricket teams. Cricket coaching classes boomed. There was this guy who single-handedly changed the perception of the city. The small town of Ranchi had finally got its voice. The answer to questions like 'Where are you from?' changed from 'Ranchi, Bihar ke bagal me jharkhand hai na, uske capital se' to 'Dhoni ke sheher se'. Suddenly Ranchi was on the world map. People started recognizing the city. With every step that Dhoni took in his career, Ranchi marched forward. Dhoni became the answer to the question 'What can a man do alone?'.
Thank you, Dhoni, for being the face of Ranchi and each and every small town of this country and for giving them the much-required confidence. Just like Sachin, you too are an emotion. And as Virat Kohli said, you will always be my captain.