Indian cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who inspired the country to its first World Cup title in 28 years, found himself ranked above global football icon Lionel Messi and U.S. President Barack Obama in the Time magazine's list of 100 most influential people in the world for the year 2010.

Dhoni, ranked 52nd in the chart, was the only Indian sportsperson to make the list which also included four of his compatriots in “Titan of Industry” Mukesh Ambani (61), “Brain Mapper” V.S. Ramachandran (79), “Philanthropist” Azim Premji (88) and “Change Agent” Aruna Roy (89).

He found himself way above Messi who was just below Obama at the 87th spot in a list topped by Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who became the “Spokesman for a Revolution” in Egypt.

It was under him that the Indian cricket team won the inaugural Twenty20 World Championship in 2007.

The magazine described him as “captain fantastic.”

“Dhoni is now universally acknowledged as India's best captain ever. He's also its most likable, exuding both cool confidence and down-to-earth humility.

“As astonishing as Dhoni's talent is his background. Indian success stories are usually associated with pedigree, connections and power. Dhoni, from a small-town family of modest means, had none of these, but he's shown India that you can make it with only one thing: excellence,” read the accompanying profile penned by acclaimed author Chetan Bhagat.

“Dhoni doesn't just lead a cricket team; he's also India's captain of hope. And he didn't just win India the World Cup; he also taught India how to win.”

Only the second

The highest-ranked Indian in the latest Time list, he is only the second Indian sportsman after Sachin Tendulkar to make it there.

The other global celebrities included are U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is incidentally ranked higher than Obama at 43rd, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg (6), and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange (9).

Moment of joy: Munda

A report from Ranchi said Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda hailed Dhoni's inclusion in the list as a moment of joy.

“Congratulations to Dhoni. We are happy to see his name in the Time magazine's list. The cricketer continues to make Jharkhand and the country proud with his performance,” Mr. Munda said, in the presence of JMM chief Shibu Soren and two Deputy Chief Ministers Sudesh Mahto and Hemant Soren.

‘Elated'

“We feel elated to find his name in the famous list. We discussed how Dhoni must be even happier to be bracketed with football star Messi because he has been a football lover too,” said the former Ranji cricketer, Adil Hussein, under whom Dhoni had played for Central Coalfields Limited in tournaments like Sheesh Mahal trophy.

“Some of us old teammates recalled the early playing days with him and are happy to see him becoming a sports ambassador for our country,” Hussein said.

Chanchal Bhattacharya, who is among the three former coaches of Dhoni during his formative years, said, “Earlier, people referred to Ranchi as a town with two mental hospitals. But now that perception has changed with Dhoni making Ranchi popular with his game.”

“And his name in Time magazine is the ultimate recognition of his contribution in making small towns popular,” he added.

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