Memories, Courtesy M S Dhoni

I’ve been fortunate to have witnessed the brilliance of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Zulfon ke kaayal Musharraf. Courtesy : youtube.com

There were those T20-style ODI chases in Pakistan in 2006. Pervez Musharraf asked him not to shorten his mane, a rage all over India.

There was that fighting fourth-innings at Lord’s in 2007 when his 76* made sure India went to Trent Bridge on an equal footing, enroute to their first Test series win in England in 36 years.

We’ve won, boys! Courtesy : espncricinfo.com

There was the (calculated?) gamble in the 2007 World T20 final against Pakistan when he gave the ball to Jogi ahead of Harbhajan. The winning moment was a rare occasion when he expressed raw emotions on a cricket field. And the last time we’d see him in that mane.
There was the “attack is the best form of defence” philosophy against Ajantha Mendis in the ODI series in Sri Lanka 2008 when he led the way to ensure India won the first limited-overs series against their southern nemesis in a long time.

There was that 8-1 offside field to Michael Hussey in the Nagpur Test of 2008. Commentators said it was schoolboyish, Dhoni made it work.

There was the slash straight to deep point in the league stages of the 2009 World T20 when India’s title defence crumbled.

The charge to numero uno. Credits : espncricinfo.com

There was the charge to No. 1 in the ICC Test rankings in 2009.
There was that scathing assessment of his players (“they were playing to the galleries”) at Nagpur in the 2011 World Cup against South Africa as India lost despite a century from Sachin Tendulkar and a monstrous top-order performance.

Superman Dhoni : Balls of Steel

There was that self-belief when he promoted himself to No. 4 in the WC final at Wankhede to counter Muralitharan’s off-spin. There was that six that sailed over widish long-on! Oh, that six! I still remember how the shop where we were watching the match erupted in delirium. I can bet 88.80% of India went bonkers at that moment (that’s his ODI strike-rate, in case..). Andy Zaltzmann exclaimed Dhoni must have balls of steel!
There was 0-8! Scarier and more depressing than any Hollywood horror or slasher classic. We watched in terror as the team stumbled from one low to another, losing 8 consecutive tests in England and Australia. The lowest point of his career, on-field!

There was the 1-2 Test series loss at home to England. The way Virat Kohli and co. mocked England before the series (“Aao in Angrezon ki pungi bajaayein!”) only to have rotten eggs on their faces on the last day at Jamtha, Nagpur.

There was that counterattacking demolition job in Chennai, his second home, in 2013. He tore into Nathan Lyon and co to make the highest score by an Indian Test captain. This from a person who didn’t have the correct technique for Test cricket. The Oz left the subcontinent blanked 0-4!

There was the IPL scandal in 2013!

It pained me no end when I saw him defending Gurunath Meiyappan (“he’s just an enthusiast”). I could let go the various away tests lost from winning positions, the Rhiti Sports controversy, the abandoned chase in Dominica etc. But this hurt deep! This was his lowest point, on- or off-field.

Khoob Jamega Rang… Courtesy : Getty Images.

There was the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy win as he resurrected like only he could. Amid all the controversy, he took the team where no international captain has ever gone before or since – winning all three ICC trophies!
There was the grit and sheer bloody-mindedness in taking blow after blow on the body, innings after innings, at the crease in England 2014. He waged a lone battle as India frittered away a 1-0 series lead on traditional English pitches to lose 1-3. And there was the sordid Jadeja-Anderson affair!

There was the sudden announcement of Test retirement midway through the tour of Australia, via a BCCI press release. No lingering around to get to 100 Tests (he played 90!). Never one for emotions or fanfare.

There was that inspired charge to the semis of the 2015 WC when India bowled out all their opponents except in what turned out to be their final match.

There was that loss in Florida when he couldn’t take 7 runs off the last over of a T20 against Dwayne Bravo, the man who had learnt a lot of his craft from Dhoni himself.

There were innumerable matches when he took a seemingly-lost chase to the last over and bullied the bowler to secure the heist.

There were the times when he stood by the young players of his team despite their difficulties and ensured the seniors weren’t allowed to sit on their laurels. If Ravindra Jadeja is the World’s No. 2 bowler in Tests today, it is thanks to Dhoni who saw in him a test player. In a bowler experts said “threw darts.”

Your time’s up, Bondhu! Courtesy : cricketcountry.com

There were the stumpings and run-outs other keepers could only dream of. Sabbir Rehman’s stumping in the 2016 World T20 was the coolest ever. Period!
There were those quips and wisecracks from behind the stumps that had everyone in splits and on their toes.

There was the sheer workload that he bore while leading the team in all formats – captain, wicketkeeper, batsman – all the while running between the wickets faster than a hare!

I’m honoured and lucky that I could watch him play. Let’s cherish him till he keeps donning the India colours. He is the stuff of legends, the captain who was cooler than ice, the pyromancer who could decimate the best of yorkers with a helicopter shot.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, thank you for all the memories. We want more of the same, please!

Do share your thoughts on the post and your memories of Dhoni in the comments section.

Thanks for reading.

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30 Comments

  1. While I can’t add anything on Dhoni that you haven’t already written about (also because I HATE cricket, I’m sorry), I will say that you must be one of his biggest fans. But I WILL add that he’s a pretty down to earth type of guy who hasn’t let his success get to him much. So yes, I hope, for the sake of sports in India, that his greatness doesn’t falter.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, I don’t consider myself a big fan of his or any other player. But he has given me and millions others so many reasons to be happy with his performance over the years that this was the least I could have done. 😊
      BTW, you shouldn’t hate cricket. Not liking is okay, but why hate?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes, he’s had a very consistent performance. And I hate cricket because it has the uncanny ability to bore me to death. It was worse before this 20-20 thing happened. That time I absolutely detested it. I don’t understand what people like about TWO guys who are really playing and the rest who are only chewing their fingernails off?

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I think that the same can be said about Tennis, Badminton, Golf, Boxing or heck, most other sports.
          The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Cricket, Test cricket especially is so rich with its ebb and flow, the attrition, the charge towards an elusive victory on the 5th day, the fight and grit to prevent a defeat, oh its endless! And there are some marvellous cricket books too, pure magic. But then….

          Liked by 1 person

          1. You’re right in all that you say, but I am not wrong in countering that those 5 day matches used to bring the entire nation to a standstill. Golf, I will concede is another sorry sport that I hate. But I won’t admit that for sports like Tennis, Football, or for may favourite, F1, that engage you throughout the match/event, AND they are short! That’s the main point 🙂

            Liked by 1 person

            1. T20 is short, only 3 hours. I think far as time durations are concerned, you can always enjoy them.
              I don’t think all Test matches bring the country to a standstill, but if some did, that means they must have been so interesting that people wanted to follow them through the week.
              Tennis is similar na? Two guys hitting the ball back and forth. What else? Everyone else is just trying to look hip, well-dressed and so on. My point is, we can say this about most sports (maybe not football). So that two-playing-rest-chewing won’t hold, no?

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Yes, that’s why I said, before the 20-20 thing happened. As far as us Indians are concerned, EVERY test match that has India playing used to bring the whole nation to a standstill, I remember.
                As for Tennis, those two people shuttling the ball back and forth, are the ONLY TWO on the field. The whole team is not watching them like bystanders. Even in a doubles match, all four of them are constantly engaged. So my statement holds true for cricket – only two playing where the rest are just watching, waiting for the ball to come their way.

                Liked by 1 person

              2. I don’t concur that every Test did or does that. There are some pretty boring ones too, like the ones in WI this year.
                In cricket, technically, at least 4 people are engaged – bowler, batsman, keeper, non-striker.
                But the whole point is, cricket isn’t about those 2/3/4 players hogging focus only. I accept that there are 10-11 people who are only standing at any given time but they are the supporting cast in a narrative. And really, they aren’t the focus. The focus is the match situation and how the players react to it. And any given one of those fielders can make a match-changing contribution – a stunning catch, a runout.
                Take for example the last Test in the India-England series this year. It was looking like a draw till the last day, and yet India kept the pressure and won the game. Or the Chennai Test of 2008 after the Mumbai attacks. They provided something far bigger than just a game. It was catharsis, a semblance of normalcy.
                I know that you have your own reasons to not like it, the game. But the thing is, every sport has its unique pull. Cricket has that too. It is more than the slam, bang and wallop of T20. But if you don’t like it, you don’t like it. And if you do…

                Liked by 1 person

              3. And If I do, I’ll defend the game no matter what, just like you do. I rest my case, boss. I have no more to say on this because I realise and concede when I have lost. Yes to you cricket seems to have a great appeal, but to me, its only a semi-engaging sport that doesn’t get my adrenaline running. 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

              4. Well, can’t argue with a lawyer!
                I wouldn’t ask you to enjoy it, since you obviously don’t connect with it. But hate not!
                Maybe follow the F1 World Championship when it starts. Or the Australian Open Tennis Championships in a couple weeks (I’ll be following that too. 😝😝).

                Liked by 1 person

              5. F1 I follow no matter what I am doing. I LOVE the sport, even though I’m not interested in cars that much.Tennis I have been away from fro sometime. And I don’t see myself getting back into it, thanks to my daughter. But if you have the time, send me updates 😀

                Liked by 1 person

              6. Good! As for my daughter, she’s so young I don’t know. So far she’s showing more inclination towards the typical womanly hobbies – art, singing and dancing. I have no idea if she’ll ever take to any sports.

                Liked by 1 person

  2. I absolutely loved reading the post! This is Dhoni beyond the sport ; true grit and mettle. And the post is beyond the analysis of a sport or of a truly talented sports person ; it is bringing emotion and nostalgia.
    It is fascinating how you called Dhoni ‘cool as ice’ and a ‘necromancer’ in the same breath 🙂
    Wonderful read!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I got that one.
      Honestly, I didn’t realise I had mentioned ice and fire in the same line. Nice of you to bring that up.
      As far as Dhoni is concerned, I think that’s all we are left with – memories. The ones he has provided have mostly been beautiful. And hence the post too. 🙂
      Thanks a ton for the lovely words, and for the necromancer. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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