Sometime during the never-fading-from-my-memory run chase against Sri Lanka in 2011 world cup final, I’d updated my Facebook status that read:
M = Most
S = Sensible
D = Destroyer
I still stand by that. This is one of those very few posts that I actually did permit to exist once I stumbled upon it in ‘On this day’ feature in Facebook.
So yeah, talking about MSD isn’t limited to talking about a cricketer or a captain. It’s more like talking about a phenomenon. The kind of which are explained to students in classrooms. On Which are based theories that govern how the world acts for the rest of the eternity.
I remember watching the 2011 World Cup Quarter-final and Dhoni made Ashwin open the bowling attack. My dad, a cricket enthusiast and an Azhar fan was baffled. He was home not to watch an off spinner trying to find a gap between Shane Watson’s bat and pad. He wished to see Zaheer’s fiery spells instead. Unlike the other days, I didn’t defend the decision and decided to just watch. I did so because during the team huddle, I’d seen Dhoni explaining things to everyone and especially to Ashwin.
I knew he had something on his mind which we all saw in the 10th over of the innings. Watson tried to slog sweep Ashwin over long on and the woods were broken. Ashwin’s spell ended there. I looked at my dad and we shared a smile.
Coming back to the sensible destroyer part, when you are on your way to destroy stuff, you don’t see anything else but blood. Even if it’s the bowling figures of a bowler, bonus point of the opposition on the point table, or it’s juts the confidence of an entire team, all you can see is blood. MS is an exception. I’ve never seen a more calculative brain at work when it comes to a cricket field.
When was the last time you saw a captain standing on the non-striking end scolding the batsman on strike for hitting a boundary? I did on the night of April 2nd 2011. Gambhir hit Kulasekara over the head of a very uppish mid on. The ball was firmly struck and MS was even more firm while making it very clear to Gambhir to not take risks. Dhoni being who he is, didn’t play a shot in the air until the last ball he hit for six. That immortal six that relives itself again and again in my memory. I’m sure I’m not alone.
Coming from a place where coal is considered gold, MS has re-defined the meaning of a small town in India. Or better, he has left the definition very open.
His first call for Duleep Trophy where he was to represent East Zone came in 2001. He didn’t know about it. It was a time when cellphones didn’t exist. Thanks to a friend who called from Kolkata to congratulate him, he received the news. The time when the call came, the team had already left for Kolkata from where they were supposed to catch a flight for Agartala. BCA (Jharkhand cricket was still under Bihar back then) refused to provide him with a car. His friends, Chhotu Bhaiyya and Gautam Gupta, contributed money, hired a taxi and rushed to Kolkata. Taxi broke down mid way and they didn’t reach in time.
Deep Dasgupta played as a wicket keeper batsman in that match. Dhoni joined the team in Pune for their next match as a 12th man. While sitting on the bench, he saw Sachin Tendulkar help West Zone lift the trophy.
Chhotu Bhaiyya runs a sports store which Dhoni visited in 2008 and was mobbed. Gautam Gupta married Dhoni’s sister. MS captained Sachin Tendulkar in the World Cup that Sachin so desperately wanted to win.
Calling Dhoni a hero would be so very awkward. The first thing that comes to our mind when we hear the word ‘Hero’ is the movies. What or who is a hero? Where do we find him? In the front. Even when he dances for his girl, he is seen leading a bunch of side-kicks. The hero has the most charming face in the entire cast. He is extremely well built and kicks ass when it comes to facing the villain and his side kicks. The hero more than often has a rich sense of humor. MS defies this proposition. He wins the world cup, lifts the trophy, gives it to the boys and leaves. You see the pictures of 2007 World T-20 and the 2011 World cup and you will not see Dhoni in any of the pictures with the trophy (of course you will but then those are just to feed the press). He wasn’t there. This repeated itself in Champions Trophy in England, 2013.
T-20 World cup 2014, match against South Africa. India needed a run to win the match and Dhoni was on strike. He defended a ball and let it drop dead right under his nose which he could easily have nudged for a single if not strike it for a boundary. Reason, you ask? He looked at Kohli on the other end and they both smiled. There was a lot of romance in that smile. It was evident. Kohli had carried his bat and had batted brilliantly. Kohli deserved to hit the winning runs and the captain acknowledged it. He let Kohli become the Hero that night.
The finisher who finishes with a six, won millions of hearts along with a seat in the World Cup Final.
Arun Pandey, his manager, who played for Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, once finding a light moment said to Dhoni that he plays very deep in the batting order. Dhoni responded him with “aaj to bol diye ho aage se mat bolna.” Pandey, since that moment has never spoken about anything related to cricket to MSD.
‘He has a switch built in him’, thinks Pandey.He switches it on two hours before the game and it gets switched off right after the match is over.Apart from that, you will not hear a word from Dhoni about cricket.
He takes interest in bikes, weapons, especially guns and daggers. He is so much into weapons that he never misses to fire on Januray 1st.
No matter where he is in the world, he will find a spot and fire his arms. On the evening of January 1st 2015, the Indian team landed in Mumbai. Everyone went to their hotel rooms while Dhoni left for the National Security Guard range. People close to him describe how ecstatic he was the day he was given the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army in 2011. He didn’t sleep that night.
April 2007, Dhoni was stuck in his home. His house was being pelted with stones. His posters were being burnt. Hoardings bearing his face with those long hairs were being defaced.
All this right after a disastrous exit from 2007 50-over world cup. A few months later, he was riding in an open bus holding a silverware which was recently named the World T-20 Trophy.
He told his friends that he is never going to take things that happen on the ground with him off the ground and be defined by it.
Dhoni had taught the world how to go about their business. From getting Yusuf Pathan to open the innings for India, to giving Joginder Sharma the last over of the World Cup final with Misbah on strike were gambles that Dhoni didn’t hesitate to take part in. They all paid off. We know MSD for moves like those but he himself is all above that. You just can’t get a glimpse of what’s going on in that head of his, beneath those patches of grey hair.
The 6th edition of the World T-20 is here. India is playing at home. India is playing under MSD. People are speculating about his departure. He has already bid farewell to the white kit in 2015.
This might as well be the one last finish, that one last feather in the cap, that one last strike which will knock everything and anything out of its consciousness. Dhoni, being the outsider that he always has been, has had a lot to prove at every phase in his international career. This has a lot to do with the kind of success and feats that he has been achieving.
His kind of success has been quick, consistent, and overwhelming.
I’m pretty sure, despite all the buzz surrounding him and the event, he must be sitting in his hotel room, playing first person shooting games, chatting with the younger lot and mocking them. Here we are, the mortals, the ones who worry and show emotions, the ones who call long forgotten friend and cry profusely at world cup wins, sitting and talking and discussing as to how the team should play on a particular day. What we all need to do is, pick a random page from the life of MSD and start making notes for future references. This book, or an encyclopedia rather, won’t be up for public display for forever. We need to make the most of it and I believe this is the best time to do so.
Dear MS, the man we can’t be, Thank You.