At the same awards ceremony, Dhoni's India team-mate Yuvraj Singh became the inaugural winner of the Twenty20 international performance of the year. Dhoni beat fellow nominees Sachin Tendulkar, Australia quick Nathan Bracken and Pakistan batsman Mohammad Yousuf to win the award. During the voting period, Dhoni played 39 ODIs and scored 1,298 runs at an average of 49.92 and at a rate of 82.46 runs per 100 balls faced. In that time he hit a century and nine fifties.
The wicket-keeper also made 62 dismissals (46 catches and 16 stumpings) in the same period.
Dhoni, currently ranked as the world's best ODI batsman, said: "I am really happy to get this - it's a great privilege.
"Also, it feels great to know that I am the first Indian player to get this particular award and it's very special because now I am in the company of a lot of other good cricketers.
"Some fantastic players have won this award in the past and to be mentioned in their company is truly a humbling experience for me."
Yuvraj's award was recognition for the batsman's feat in hitting six sixes off an over from England fast bowler Stuart Broad during the ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa last year, which India eventually won after defeating Pakistan in a thrilling final.
It was the first time a player had hit six sixes in a single Twenty20 international over.
Herschelle Gibbs did it in an ODI during the last year's World Cup in the Caribbean while West Indies great Garfield Sobers became the first man to achieve the feat in a first-class match back in 1968.
"I would like to thank the ICC for recognising the performances of the players - it's an important aspect of the year for us," said Yuvraj.
"After the fifth six in that over I remember having butterflies in my stomach and I knew that if I managed to hit it for six it would be very special. It was a great feeling when I saw the ball go over the boundary."