“Enigmas don’t age; they grow stronger with time”
2 April 2011.
It’s the World Cup Finals at Mumbai.
It doesn’t get bigger than this. India off to a shaky start as the demigod and the marauder from Nazafgarh, Delhi have been sent packing early.
Sri Lanka’s glorious tournament is all set to culminate into a victory in the Finals. No team has ever chased so many runs in a final before. The departure of a young Virat Kohli mounts the tension even more among the delirious crowd. But, the saving grace is the presence of Yuvraj Singh, a man made for such a situation.
But, hold on. That’s not Yuvraj.
It’s Mahendra Singh Dhoni. It’s a man whose bat has stood nude to the brutal exploitation of the white leather so far in the most important tournament.
He has no business striding out now with his usual antics and a mean swagger.
“Dhoni Finishes off in style, a magnificent hit into the crowd. India lift the World Cup after twenty-eight years’’.
Ravi Shastri’s iconic voice seems as if a tracer bullet has splintered it with excitement.
The winning moment at the 2011 World Cup masks a lot of things. It masks a painful tour to South Africa where the frailties of the middle order were exposed, the inability of the bowling department to defend big totals in familiar conditions. Most importantly it masks the gnawing ache of seeing India depart from the 2007 edition of the World Cup played in the Carribean.
Coming to the man.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni has never been an emotional man, not on a cricket field at least.
The images of Harbhajan Singh and Yuvraj Singh shedding tears after the 2011 World Cup victory was a fitting end to the tournament in which India had participated to win, anything short of that would have been dubbed as a failure.
Dhoni has never been a big fan of delving deep into the technicalities of the game be it with the bat or with the gloves. Hailing from a small town Ranchi, Dhoni carries an air of originality with him devoid of mechanical diplomacy and a street smartness which makes him one of the biggest entertainers of World Cricket.
The famous wristy ‘Helicopter Shot’ may not match a Rahul Dravid’s pull or a VVS Laxman’s flick, but it has brought many a victory to India and Chennai Super Kings.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s cricket career strikes a completely diverse note when compared to the career of other Indian legends. Behind the weight of the ODI runs and numerous cool moments on the field, is a romantic tale of a middle- class ticket collector who has defied the set formulae to excel in Cricket.
It’s no secret that Dhoni is India’s most successful captain and the only captain to win the 50 over World Cup, T20 World Cup and the Champions Trophy. So, such an unassuming demeanour is exactly what defines the man and makes him what he is. Dhoni’s departure from international Cricket would surely leave a void but there is talent enough in the country to do the job for India. But, essentially enough there won’t be any replacement ever for Dhoni, the man. A match winner of the highest pedigree, a master tactician yet nonchalant and suave.
The image of Mahendra Singh Dhoni with his long locks and the lofted strike over the boundary of Nuwan Kulasekara would forever inspire a generation of cricketers and Indians.
Will Mahendra Singh Dhoni leave with an emotional speech or possibly a tear?
One doesn’t think so.
He will possibly finish off in style’ with some cheeky comment or a witty repartee to a journalist and try to downplay the vacuum he will leave in Indian Cricket.
Keep going strong MS Dhoni. Enjoy your day