It's Always the Mahi Way
By Kshitij Ojha
“From 1929 hours consider me as Retired.” It was eight in the evening when Dhoni’s IGTV video appeared on my feed. As soon as I read the caption, my first reaction was, “What! no way? He can’t announce his retirement just like that!” I checked all major websites, I checked Twitter, but found no comment from MS on his retirement. It was just that video. Dhoni in his own unique style bid farewell to the game on India’s Independence Day. If anyone says that they knew what Dhoni would do, they all are lying. Dhoni took all of us by surprise. His retirement was inevitable, we all know it, but this sudden announcement still makes us emotional. Dhoni announced his test retirement in his own style, he resigned from captaincy in his own style, so it's not new but it still feels new. If there was ever a doubt that Dhoni was just a player or a captain, it was put to the bin yesterday, each and every citizen of this country wanted the announcement to be untrue. Dhoni, indeed is an emotion.
But why is that we all feel so connected to the man? What’s the aura about him that we don’t even associate with Sachin? It’s all about his beautiful journey. He comes from a small town of Ranchi, a place which was unheard of by many until Dhoni made his debut for India. He was always a sportsperson, he played badminton and football before joining his school cricket team. I won’t go into the details of his story, we all know or have heard of it. I’d just like to remember precious moments of his life as a cricketer.
To begin with, it honestly feels like yesterday when India won the first ever Twenty 20 world cup, it feels like yesterday when Dhoni hit that magnificent six to bring home the world cup after 28 years. It still feels like yesterday when India beat England in the 2013 Champions Trophy Final. These victories, sure, define Dhoni and his charismatic leadership but the way he handled the lowest points in his career is a true reflection of his great personality as a human. The choice of images in the IGTV video gives us a peek into his mind and emotions. When India won the 2007 T20 world cup, Dhoni was not in his best of forms, the 2007 fifty over world cup was a disaster for him and Team India, Dravid had resigned from captaincy after the world cup loss and no senior player wanted to go for the inaugural T20 world cup. It was here for the first time a 25 year old was handed over the captaincy, he was to lead a young team, India was not even the underdogs, but he made sure that India became the champions. There were certain decisions which baffled everyone from Uthappa bowling in the bowl out against Pakistan to Joginder Sharma bowling the last over in the final, but it all fell in place as if destiny wanted it to be a fairy tale.
Pic Credit: DnaIndia.com
Dhoni always seemed to be pretty clear in his mind as a captain, he took some very harsh calls very soon in his captaincy career. The decision to drop senior players from the ODI side on Australia tour in 2008 appeared astounding to many, but it nevertheless paid off as India for the first time won a tri series in Australia.
Indian cricket team enjoyed a fruitful run from 2008 till 2011. They became the no. 1 side in tests and won the 2011 WC at home. The Indian cricket team saw its worst time of the decade right after its world cup victory. India lost 8 successive test matches in Australia and England, thereby losing it’s no.1 test position. It led to most senior players announcing their retirements. It could be said that it was the real test for Dhoni, the leader. Even after all the criticism, even after all the flak, Dhoni stood firm, took it all in, and built a new team. It resulted in India whitewashing Australia 4-nil in 2013. The foundation stone for that series win was set by the captain himself, he had scored a double century in a single day in Chennai, his second home ground as he likes to call it.
The year 2013 came with its own share of controversies. The IPL spot fixing scandal became a huge issue, even Dhoni’s name was dragged into the list, but Dhoni focused on his usual business, right after the IPL, India went to the UK for the champions trophy with a very young team and similar to the 2007 T20 WC, no one really gave India a chance. But as it turned out India beat England in the final by five runs. It changed the career of one of India’s all time great ODI openers Rohit Sharma. No doubt that Rohit credits Dhoni for his change in fortune in International cricket.
Dhoni not only commanded respect from his players and seniors but he was a favorite of journalists too, he as India’s captain was always at his best in press conferences. Who can forget his famous response to the question, “if he is considering retirement” in the 2016 T20 world cup!
Dhoni’s successes, his losses, his calm personality, this is what makes us love Dhoni.
He was very unorthodox in his approach, he was way unconventional for most people, but he was also unfazed by whatever was said or talked about him. He played in pain when the nation needed him, he took harsh calls when the situation demanded it, that’s what makes us love the man.
He loved his seniors, the gesture to allow Dada to captain the side in his last test in 2008 showed how much Dhoni valued his contribution to Indian cricket.
Dhoni gave us hope, even when India was 4-3, everyone knew if Dhoni was at the crease there’s a possibility that India would win the game. Dhoni’s unique batting style and wicket keeping skills was questioned by many in his early days but now he has retired as India’s most successful wicket keepers, he’s retired as world’s best finisher. It’s truly sad that we won’t see Dhoni again playing for India in blue, but life moves on and we will definitely cherish the numerous memories Dhoni has given us.
Dhoni had said in one of his interviews, “ I’m like everyone else, but control emotions better.” I’d like to tell Mahi that we are not able to control our emotions since the time he has announced his retirement.