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The Year That Was: 2007
Rediff looks back at the highs and lows, the successes and failures, the heroes and villains, the wild and the overblown that made this year.

Hope and Despair

Small town stars of Indian sport

December 4, 2007

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

The cap fits
In 1983, Kapil Dev, a small town cricketer, led India to its biggest-ever accolade in the international arena -- the cricket World Cup.

Twenty-four years later, another small town cricketer, in his very first assignment as captain, gave India its second glorious moment by winning the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup.

And, to give credit where it is due, Mahendra Singh Dhoni carried forward the good work in subsequent series against Australia and Pakistan, the final result against the world champion Australian side notwithstanding.

Moreover, his partnerships with Yuvraj Singh is giving the Indian middle order the solidity it always craved for.

There are some who do feel that the 26-year-old is still not ready to take charge in Tests, but few will argue that he will do so in the not-so-distant future.

If Dhoni's rise to captaincy and the results thereafter have been superlative, his performance with the bat this year has also been staggering. The man from Ranchi scored 1,103 runs at an average of 44 in 37 one-day-internationals this year.

Having said that, not all was hunky-dory. If Dhoni the captain had more positives in his short stint, Dhoni the batsman went through some low patches.

The World Cup, in particular, was disastrous not only for India but also for him. He managed only 29 runs in three matches, and, more importantly, two of his five career ducks came during the course of the event!

However, for his sheer grit and determination, as also the fact that he has taken over the mantle of captaincy within three years of his international debut, the rustic boy from Ranchi in Jharkhand, is one of the year's biggest success stories.

Text: Bikash Mohapatra. Photograph: Deshkalyan ChowdhuryAFP/Getty Images
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