Tag Archives: MS Dhoni

The Fan looks inward (and finds himself)

The New pledge went: India is my Country. All Indian Cricketers are my Gods. Come what may, they are going to bring the world cup home. Blah blah blah blah….

In today’s world, which is driving it’s human inhabitants towards a fearfully general hysteria in a fast lane, these emotions are called passionate, not radical.Yet So be it. Not that the team’s performance was anything to tone this passion down. The top three did superlatively. The help from the middle was minimal, but with the Pandyas and the Pants firing in the dying stages of the innings, that was hardly a deterrent. And invariably in the final couple of overs, the dormant Dhoni would erupt fiercely.

Tailor-made pattern to become the World beaters, and not to forget the most potent bowling line-up, consisting of the unplayable Bumrah, Wily KulCha and go-to man for wickets, Mohammad Shami. You bloody Naysayer, you say we may lose? Bullshit !

Team India
Team India- Emotion says it all

Unbeaten till we played England, we looked really invincible. Yes, the Afghans tested us, but we handled the pressure well. The weak middle order was forgotten. Also, the #4 slot looked well manned with Rishabh Pant. We were further convinced that our team has no mortals. They are gods. Then England pummeled us, and the chinks in the amour began to grow into cracks. Chahal, who is an accomplished chess player and expected to be adept at handling pressure, was broken ruthlessly by the English batters. They shredded his bowling. Shami began to concede runs so much, that his wickets began to look insignificant. But we were sure of a Semi-Final spot.

The way we lost to England, to use the honorable Coach’s favourite expression, set the cat amongst the pigeons. Dhoni’s adversaries suddenly grew. We started calling for Rahul’s head after one failure. We were getting restless, panicked, and irritable. On Cricket groups across Facebook and WhatsApp, sparks began to fly, putting close friendships under threats, turning brothers in arms against each other. Somewhat pacified after the cake-walk victories over Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the West Indies, we seemed pacified, and started supporting our team with rejuvenated enthusiasm. But now the support was more of a devotion than conviction. We knew that we have a very vulnerable middle order, we knew that Dhoni is no longer what he used to be, and above all, we knew that our spinners, if given some sticks, loose their footing like a cat on a hot tin roof.

Then came the semi-final. India shot New Zealand out for a paltry (though it started appearing gargantuan not more than 10 overs into the second day) 239. The target was tricky. With the kind of form Rohit Sharma is in, memes started circulating. ” 239? Itna to main akele hi banal leta hoon.” (referring to his innings of 264 in what now appears distant past). Then, 5 for three. Rookie Rishabh Pant at the crease joined by Hardik Pandya. Eyebrows were raised. Pandya? That guy who knows nothing but to slog? But Pandya and Pant hung on for a while.

Considering their capabilities, the hopes again began to soar. And the bubble of hope burst when Pant was tired of playing the youngster with a grey head on his shoulders, and soon Pandya holed out too. Dhoni was at the crease and was his (recent) usual self, happy to block away, and let the pressure build on the batsman at the other end. In walked “Sir” Ravindra Jadeja. He played a blinder and soaked up the pressure built due to Dhoni’s stonewalling, and appeared set to take India into finals single-handedly, in the process making his adversary commentator eat his words with a lot of salt on them. But unfortunately, the run rate was getting a bit too out of bounds, and Jadeja had to start taking risks. He skied Trent Boult, sending the ball into stratosphere, and the ball was in the air for an eternity.

Gravity pulled it towards the earth again, wobbling and swerving, and Kane Williamson, ever as cool as a cucumber gobbled up the catch. Yet our hopes hadn’t died. We, Indian fans have resilient hopes. We had, for that short time at least, immense belief in Dhoni. Why not? He had done this umpteen number of times (47 to be precise) and there was no reason he couldn’t do it for this one time. Dhoni too finally got into the act, flat batting Neesham for a towering six over cover-point. Yessssssss ! He will win it for us, we thought. The very next ball, a flick between square leg and deep fine leg played with soft hands, the first run run at a lightening speed, turning back for the second, when Guptill at square let ran like a hare, picked up the ball and hit the bull’s eye with his throw. Dhoni was a couple of inches short, and eventually, India fell 19 runs short of reaching the Finals at Lords.

After that the rage flowed. All and Sundry were blamed. Rohit and Kohli for not performing in crunch matches, Dhoni for taking too much time to get going, dropping catches, conceding byes, and getting the DRS calls wrong, Shastri for being a drunk dabbler at coaching, Rahul for being at sea against the new ball, Pandya and Shami for leaking runs, Chahal for being ineffective, and the tour selection committee for not picking Jadeja for the earlier matches. For a while, we all were breathing fire. After 12 hours, and for some after a good sleep, and for the other lot after an adequate amount of alcohol being consumed, the rage subsided.

We began to concede that the Kiwis had out-bowled us, and still our lower middle order’s resistance to their bowling was something which was to be savoured for a long time. We had gone down fighting. We lost, but the loss is not disgraceful. We died a martyr’s death. We went down with our heads held high.

But just a moment, why are speaking in the warrier’s lingo? Cricket is supposed to be a sport isn’t it? Isn’t it always true that one can’t win forever? Are our players not to be considered human enough to grant the possibility of having an off day at work? And it was not even a full off day. Those 45 minutes will haunt all the members of the Indian side for the rest of their lives, and we, their fans, we who love watching them more than making our wives happy by taking them shopping or out for dinners, are responsible for that. No guys, we will not be such fans. Why don’t we cherish the moments of great pleasure the team has given us?

Thanks Bumrah, for the most splendid fast bowling seen from an Indian bowler for ages.
Thanks Rohit, for showing five different shades of world class batsmanship in your five centuries. You showed us grit, class, elegance, fierce determination and the most non-violent aggression.

Thanks Virat, for those masterful knocks. You would have done it, had you curbed your instinct to play across the line early in your innings.
Thanks Rahul for those two stupendous knocks.
Thanks Dhoni, for keeping our hopes alive in the Semis.
Thanks Shami for getting wickets consistently, and winning India the match against Afghanistan.
Thanks Bhuvi, for your great accuracy.

Because, it is always the great moments the fan remembers. It is such moments which last in the memory for a lifetime. Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s six hit before the ball he got out in the 2019 semi-finals should be remembered in the same league as the winning stroke of the 2011 finals.
Because both were equally sincere efforts to achieve victory.
Isn’t it?

Mahendra Singh Dhoni- Test Retirement!

Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Mahendra Singh Dhoni
Having salvaged the situation for India at the MCG, what happened in the end is something that no one would have expected. For us, it was surely shocking news, more of a disbelief. With the end of the test match at MCG, we saw closed curtains for Mahendra Singh Dhoni from the five-day format of the game.
Was it sheer pressure, or the timing was planned is something that only MSD can tell us. With recent debacle of the team in test format, and more so, in the overseas matches, India lost on 15 counts, two drawn matches and only one victory to boast about.
Starting as a small town basher, the guy went on to become one of the most successful Indian Cricket Captain. He placed India at the top in all the three formats of the game, winning the T20 and ODI world cups, and also getting India ranked at Numero Uno in the ICC Test Rankings. A goodish wicketkeeper (wouldn’t call him one of the best), a very aggressive batsman, when he gets in, and a very astute, and attacking leader, for most of his career (He appeared a bit lackluster due to loss of motivation probably, towards the fag end of his Test Captaincy career).
Coming from the Steel City of Ranchi, MSD was like any other School kid, wanting to play sport, rather than studying. He had to get working as early as the age of 19, when he got recruited in the Indian Railways as a Ticket Checker, but kept playing the sport he loved. Our earliest remembrance of Dhoni was a double century partnership of his with Shikhar Dhawan against Pakistan, in 2005-6 and both were slaughtering the hapless attack going hammers and tongs. He didn’t change this style of batting all through his career. Just backed himself, and let it go. A few innings of his “attack is the best defense” approach which come to our mind are, a couple of 90s he scored in England, his top score innings of 224 against Australia, and his batting in the last series in England. In all these situations, he looked by far the best batsman in the Indian batting line up. Explosive batting, out of the book Technique and strokes employed, and refusing to get bogged down, had been his forte all his career.
As a wicketkeeper, he never had the best technique, had hard hands, but made up for it by his cat like reflexes. He did drop a few catches, but has still ended up having the maximum dismissals in test cricket by an Indian Wicketkeeper. He did prove it here too, that not going by the book, isn’t always wrong!
As a captain, we would rate Dhoni as inspiratory. He never appeared to be agitated, irritated, or never did his shoulders sag in adversity. Dropped catches, bad batting displays, typically Indian bowling woes overseas, nothing could ruffle his feathers anytime when on the field. He looked like a tower of peace, notwithstanding what was going on around him. That doesn’t mean that he was off guard or unaware of his job. He did it well, most of the time. He gambled quite a lot, and also had the guts to back himself in tough situations. More often than not, he was also able to inspire his players to rise to the occasion. It is not so easy to captain a team which has a Dravid, Tendulkar, Laxman, and Kumble in it, but MSD did this with consummate ease, and to a very good effect. He didn’t like criticisms. He kept backing players like Suresh Raina, Rohit Sharma, Ravichandran Ashwin, though they were not always consistent performers, and could extract flashes of brilliance from them, nurtured Virat Kohli’s potential, and also the senior players were not far behind in contributing.
People who go by stats, forget that by changing or sacking or blaming a captain, they are doing no good to the game or to the team more so in case of Dhoni. 9 years back , MSD made his test debut for India against Sri Lanka on 2nd December 2005.Seldom did he know that one day he would lead India in all formats of the game and become a successful captain ever. But one thing he did, was he had a dream and had a belief in him to achieve it. With years passing by, he achieved one dream after the other and set a benchmark that are difficult to surpass.

As the year comes towards the fag end, Dhoni has decided to quit Test Match format and that will surely have lot of impact in the entire cricketing fraternity with the kind of leadership determination, and success he has lead the team all these years.

What is the legacy MSD leaves behind then?
1. Back your instincts, and go all out
2. Keep your restlessness in your mind. Once it reflects in the body language, your team panics, and your opposition senses an opportunity.
3. Back your decisions and stand by them
4. Don’t pay heed to criticisms

Finally it was a typical MSD type cool Signoff.In a flash.No farewells,and no emotional speeches!
With the baton passed on to Virat Kohli, who is yet another example of a good leader, we hope he will be able to fill in the big shoes of the cricketer we love and admire- Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Credits to Sanjeev Sathe for sharing his views and thoughts, who himself,is a class batsman and an ardent cricket fan.