Greg Chappel once quipped, “He’s an old soul. He has been here”. I didn’t understand then, what was behind Chappel’s notion of playing with such words, although it was poetic to an extent. But I remembered those words, when the veteran quietly moved away from Test arena and I remember it again as he passes his captainship mantle to the younger generation. And I will remember it once again, when it will be time for him to shine off from the International Cricket. Dhoni is a quintessential tough man who never gave up his demeanour and is often defined by the way he played for the country. The man who took Indian Cricket to greater heights, seems to be quietly shading away into the oblivion.
From then to now
Dhoni never emulated any of the cricketing stars in his childhood, nor did he sleep with his bat by his side. Cricket just happened to him, when Ranjan Banerjee, his school coach asked him to shift from goalkeeping to wicketkeeping. Soon his heavy hitting style became famous in Ranchi, as many eye balls rolled up in awe and admiration for his talent. Paramjit Singh who as we watched in the movie, “Dhoni – the untold story” was the first one to take interest in this talented kid. He owned a small sports store in the busiest streets of Ranchi and had played for the same club alongside Dhoni.
Early in 2001, when he was selected to represent the East Zone in the Duleep Trophy, Dhoni was excited when he knew he will be playing along with Sachin Tendulkar in the tournament. But as to how the tired and cliche’d Indian bureaucracy functions, the Bihar Cricket Association (BCA) deliberately failed to forward his selection letter. He came to know about it from a friend of Paramjit who called to congratulate Dhoni on the selection after reading about it in the local newspaper. The call came at 8 pm, the night before the team was to fly from Kolkata to Agartala. When the BCA refused to arrange for transportation, Paramjit borrowed money from his friends and hired a taxi which broke down on the way. By the time they reached the airport the flight had taken off leaving Dhoni dismayed as he missed his chance to play the match.
After this incident, sure did he go on to show the world his batting prowess in the days that unfolded. This is just another testimony of how friends and our close circle would leave no stone unturned to help us achieve our dreams. They are a vital cog in our journey, towards achieving our ambitions and their hope on us is quiet unsurpassed. This is the story of Dhoni, a story of each one of us, which unites us in synchronism. A great little story of India’s most admired captain, whose entire flow of life just looked like a consequence of destiny rather than a coincidence.
The memory is still fresh in our minds the flamboyant Dhoni with his long hair whose swashbuckling sixes and powerful hits to the fences gave shrills to bowlers. Often I missed that Dhoni, who looked like setting new records every time he stepped into bat, conquering any totals that were put on the score board. Perhaps I think it was the lows of 2007 world cup, when his effigies were burnt even in his hometown, the reality check started to kick over. There was a sea of calmness thereafter and he went on to tell his friends that, he couldn’t afford to take what happened on the field seriously and be defined by it. This was just a reflection of his profound thoughts on the highs and lows of life, which went on to define his detachment from emotions thereon.
For a captain who tasted two world cup victories, a champions trophy title and leading his side to the No.1 position in Test ranking, Dhoni’s victories are unprecedented in Indian Cricket. His choice to throw the ball to Joginder Sharma in the last over of 2007, T20 world cup by far would have been the most critically analysed decision of that decade. In a country where there is so much of desperateness and obsession for being in limelight, Dhoni is quite a revelation. He played one of the greatest knocks by an Indian, in the final of 2011 world cup and let Sachin Tendulkar to take the glory in the evening that followed. The man had his own share of failures, when India lost seven continuous away Tests, a format which wasn’t his favourite and was often seen adrift.
Silence amid crisis
There hasn’t been a better love story than that of Chennai Super kings and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Not even Sachin Tendulkar for Mumbai Indians personified the franchise in the way Dhoni did for CSK. His love affair with the podium in IPL is quite obvious and exposed to the world. Captaining one of the most successful teams of IPL with a win percentage of 60.68, Dhoni led to victory twice and finished as runners-up four times along with two Champion League titles. Unfortunately his silence during the controversial days of match fixing in which Gurunath Meiyappan, Srinivasan’s son-in-law was the central character was disturbing. However, his fans are excitedly waiting to witness the home coming of CSK in 2018, as they hope to see their most celebrated star back with a whistle.
Shading into the oblivion
I will remember his calmness under the helmet, his modesty after each win and the decisive planning after any loss was preeminent. His vision for a young team did not even spare the likes of Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. When a journalist asked whether, the birth of his daughter was playing on his mind during the start of 2015 world cup, he astonishingly replied which instantly defined the man he is – “I’am on national duty and everything else can wait”. The man lived by a code – a code of discipline and high honour which he might have emulated from his fascination for the Indian Army.
Dhoni is not a connoisseur of straight drive, nor a pull shot specialist. He didn’t play the cover drive with elegance, not even those square cuts with grace. The man had no vintage shots in his armour and added nothing classy to his batting. What will he be remembered for, I leave that thought to each of his fans, as Dhoni had given them innumerable moments of celebrations to reminisce. But perhaps, what he wants the nation to remember is to believe in dreaming and following their passion. A fantasy, that a kid from Ranchi had, a vision, the railway ticket collector possessed, that your dreams are unparalleled beyond means. I often relate Dhoni’s life to a Paulo Coelho’s quote, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it”. As we celebrated the last few years of Sachinism before his retirement, it’s imperative to celebrate the remaining years left in India’s favourite captain unequivocally.