Saturday, July 13, 2013

MS Dhoni: The Golden Calf

In two weeks, this is my second article on him. And I just can’t help writing. If someone keeps you stuck like a barnacle to your television set even after the bewitching hours and makes you transfer his videos to the cell, recurrently, till you have reached a phase where you can just pull your hair, I don’t think you can help much.

After Sachin’s retirement, One Day cricket had nearly kicked the bucket for many of us. It didn’t tantalize the cricket fan in us anymore. It was humdrum. 15 were needed of the last six. We went to sleep.

And then India won with one wicket left!

“I think I am blessed with a good cricketing sense.” The skipper could not have been more on-the-nose in his self assessment.

In the tri-series final, his garden-variety decampment act undeviatingly grappled the lavaliere away from Sri Lanka. In the triumphal pandemonium that eventualized in the middle, with his boyish teammates skedaddling onto the ground to grab him, he could be heard saying, “Arre pehle inse toh milne do” pointing to the Sri Lankan doppelgangers.

No siphoning of the fist in the air or yowling out loud. A simple handshake with the side that was taken to the cleaners was the antecedence. So old hat of the man.

On an iniquitous pitch that had a mind of its own, where a batsman can never even pretend to be settled, getting 15 runs off the last over was always a behemothic task.
There was also a lacerated hamstring and a number 11 at the other end, set in stone on getting himself run out, to be dealt with. There was pressure all around. Pressure that can make a man do funny things.
But then pressure is for cookers. He was Mahendra Singh Dhoni!
The asterix after his name was enough to bring out the Pollyannas in the entire nation. For we knew, it wasn’t over, till it was over.

Some people have a preternatural penchant of shambling things to the end. Success tastes sacchariferous when it’s collared from the very mandibles of failure. And this ilk of humans believe in exploiting on the candy-coated gradient.

The most extrinsic and leading apotheosis being the above mentioned name who has a peculiar groove of going on a tryst with kismet, tirelessly.
Being referred as “God’s favorite son” , he knocks off the foreordained, swells up the adrenaline levels, holds himself back while preparing the kibitzers for an anti-climax just before rising to the crescendo in the most capricious fashion.

He’s that kind of Doctor, who’ll commence his statement with “I am sorry”, and then end up saying “that I kept you waiting.”

But then is this the first time he has done something of that kind?

Is this the first time he has mushroomed under pressure?

He missed out on the first one. And then got three sequential ones under his sash. A sky-scraping flurry over Eranga’s head, second, a square cut towards the point boundary and then a flat six over long on.

We were 15 runs away from the title. He needed just three hits.

He did what he was best at, in a manner he knew best. And, Game over.

What was the fretfulness about?

Why were you gnawing on your nails?

Why was sweat spurting from your forehead?

Why were you shifting in your seat, spasmodic?

For years, India have had a yen for a Javed Miandad or a Michael Bevan who would jazz up when it required the most and would carry the team through from the spasm of defeat. But a country of specialists never gave rise to an odd one out who’d be tough to dragooned with high required run rates, until of course, there egressed a lad from Jharkhand who in due time went on to take upon himself 1.2 billion hopes and become the cream of the crop.

Other than his flavored Helicopter shot, where he would get his left foot out of the way just before uprearing the bat in a full swing, rail-roading the cherry with utmost pitiless force and his ‘Captain Cool’ tag there’s something else about him that makes him the brand he is today. The flair that he has, his aura, the way he’ll play away major threats, patiently waiting for their partage to get over, and then wisely choose the gophers for his barbarous onset.

He will make you experience every emotion in the book, before giving you the last laugh. With ODI fever petering out  a bit, you just need a Mahendra Singh Dhoni special to make you catch your breath and entice you again to the 50 over format.

Over all these years, he has been a team’s man. His adroitness of gleaning the very best from the most unlikely players, leaves you gasping for wheezing every now and then.

A tenderfoot middle order in the T20 WC, and he made Uthappa and Rohit look like the best a team could have. No Zaheer, and there was RP Singh imposing a serious threat to the opposition. With no Sehwag and Gambhir, Dhawan and Vijay daintily expunged the mighty OZ in the B-G Trophy.

No matter how many greats succeed or even surpass him, Mahendra Singh Dhoni will forever be reminisced for making Joginder Sharma walk away from Wanderers, with his head held high.
He’ll forever be recalled for promoting himself ahead of Yuvraj and making the capacity crowd at Wankhede sing Vande Mataram in unison. He’ll always be minded for making a hero out of Mohit Sharma.
Along with his match winning knocks, he’ll forever be solemnized for his impulses, his instincts.

And I’ve always believed that his efforts have never got the heedfulness and recognition they deserved.

When he scored an unbeaten 148 and 183, they said, “Yeah! Some new talent. Let’s see how long he lasts.”

After the T20 WC triumph, he was “lucky” and it all happened because of the very talented “young brigade.”

After receiving the Test mace for the numero uno team, it was the Fabulous Fours’ contribution.

Post 2011 WC, they believed Sachin, and Yuvraj and Gambhir made it possible.

Both the IPL Titles were “Fixed.”

The B-G Test series was won because of “Shit pitches, and Indian Conditions.”

After the CT, there were talks of him not contributing with the bat.

And I am sure, in some corner of the world, some very profound living soul must be turning up with another cover-up.

But then his presence itself is satisfying.

For when he’s there, a 1.2 billion people simper at his success as if there has never been a bigger happiness.
For when he’s there a 1.2 billion people sleep well.

Swarna Bhatnagar for DieHard Cricket Fans

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