Dhoni gets Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award

New Delhi, August 4:

India’s one-day and Twenty20 captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been awarded the country’s

top sporting honour, cricket board officials said today.

Dhoni, 27, has been named the winner of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award for 2007 after he led a young Indian side to triumph in the Twenty20 World Cup Tournament in South Africa last year. The wicketkeeper-batsman also captained the team to a memorable tri-series victory in Australia earlier this year.

“Dhoni has been declared the recipient of the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna Award, the country’s most prestigious sports award,” the board said in a statement. Cricket board president Sharad Pawar said Dhoni was a deserving winner. “He has represented the country with distinction, and deserves the honour,” Pawar said in the statement.

“His exemplary leadership and demeanour under pressure, especially in the ICC World Twenty20 and the tri-series in Australia, mark him out as the ideal role model for millions of young Indians who want to make a mark in life,” said the statement. Dhoni is the second cricketer after batting genius Sachin Tendulkar to win the award. Tendulkar bagged the honour in 1998.

Right-hander Dhoni has amassed 1,418 runs from 29 Tests and 3,600 runs in 115 one-day internationals. He has also taken 186 catches and effected 186 stumpings in Tests and ODIs after making his international debut in 2004.

Dhoni however is likely to miss out on the awards ceremony, slated for August 29, as he is expected to be playing in ne-day series in Sri Lanka after opting out of the ongoing three-Test series citing fatigue.