MS Dhoni, the media and the fickle Indian fan

Indian cricket supporters parade a pair

Indian cricket supporters parade a pair of donkeys adorned with posters of national team cricketers Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly in Ahmedabad, 24 March 2007, after the India team’s defeat by Sri Lanka in their latest Cricket World Cup match. Policemen were deployed outside the home of Indian wicketkeeper Dhoni in eastern India as angry cricket fans took to the streets to protest the team’s probable exit from the World Cup.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the article belong to the writer and is not espoused by the Sportskeeda team.

From being branded a cheat in no uncertain terms to becoming the toast of the nation in a few weeks of time is indeed a mammoth task. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has achieved just that by leading his young Indian team to lift the recently concluded Champions Trophy in England.

The way with which Dhoni and his boys conquered every team in the tournament and remain undefeated throughout has instilled confidence among the Indian public in their nation’s future prospect. Though, many heroes emerged from the tournament for India, it is undoubtedly Dhoni who has to take a large share of credit for leading his team so adeptly in alien conditions.

The victory becomes much sweeter as Indian cricket was going through its toughest phase in the last few weeks since the explosion of the match-fixing saga in 2000. From spot-fixing and betting scandals in the Indian Premiere League (IPL) to charges of conflicts of interests on the Indian captain himself, it seemed for once that the plethora of controversies would engulf Indian cricket forever and would not let it stand on its feet again. The captain was projected almost as a national villain throughout the mainstream media and it seemed Indian cricket was at its lowest ebb possible. And that is the reason this victory is that much more prominent.

Dhoni now has the unique distinction of being the only international captain to have all three ICC trophies- the T20 World Cup, the 50-over World Cup and the now the Champions Trophy. This feat, along with many more of his glittering achievements as a captain, affirms Dhoni as probably one of the greatest Indian captains ever.

However,  a few other observations need to be discussed in the aftermath of the Champions Trophy win.

The silence of the media

When the spot-fixing controversy surfaced, followed by the betting allegations in the IPL, the mainstream Indian news channels went berserk. Then as Dhoni’s name was dragged into the conflict of interest dispute, these news channels went up in arms and all hell broke loose.

News channels had got their latest scapegoat. They seemed determined to bring Dhoni down from his high pedestal. They did not care that the team was at a crucial global tournament and should not be bothered until the competition was over. They demanded ‘answers’ but Dhoni gave them none.

Stung by the captain’s indifference to their ‘noble’ aims, they started out to project Dhoni as a cheat; a villain who was apathetic towards these issues, someone who was championing nepotism. Without any concrete proof they went on to tarnish his image and levied interminable accusations on him. Then there were these endless ‘experts’ who were falling over each other to appear on unending debate shows which ran through the day.

Days passed and the public soon got bored of the incessant babble the media kept on playing. The focus soon shifted to the Champions Trophy and the public got engaged in India’s surprisingly good performance.

And now that the team has won the tournament, one would have expected these very news channels to show some detailed reportage of the victory. That, however, was not to be. Except a few Hindi news channels, the mainstream English news channels, the very ones who were at Dhoni’s throat at every hour of the day not too long back, chose to almost completely ignore the news and mention it only in passing.

Agreed that the country was facing a national disaster but doesn’t the national team winning a global tournament bear any prominence in their 24-hour schedule? Many of them didn’t even carry the news in their ‘headline ticker’ for a good one hour after the victory, let alone having detailed discussions on the subject.

One wondered where did all those ‘experts’ evaporate who had all the time of the day to lambast the captain before the tournament win? Why exactly weren’t there any debate shows organized to analyse the victory? Or is our media only liable to cover controversies in details? Would their behaviour have been the same had India been booted out of the competition in the league stages itself? One can bet that they would have drooled with glee had that happened.

Indian cricket supporters hold posters a

Indian cricket supporters hold posters and bats as they stand outside the home of team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in Ranchi, 24 September 2007, ahead of the Twenty20 World Cup final against Pakistan in South Africa.

The curious case of the fickle Indian fan

The Indian fan is always known to be a case of the extremes. They can love you or hate you with equal passion. Hate is perhaps too strong a word in this case but not many Indian fans were willing to back Dhoni when controversies engulfed him. Easily swayed by what they see, many Indian fans readily jumped to conclusions and lapped up whatever our mainstream media fed them. The social media especially was overboard with numerous criticism of the Indian captain.

One would think that a captain who has brought such an extensive amount of glory to the nation would get a lot of respect from the general public. But the fickle Indian fan chooses to go by the ‘sheep theory’- of following what the popular sentiment is- rather than using their own intellect.

The anti-Dhoni brigade were gleefully enjoying the stones being thrown at the captain. For them the ‘lucky captain’ who got a ‘set-team’ made by someone else had flashed his last smile. But the shock that greeted them after the Champions Trophy victory has been rather interesting to observe. There is a shocked silence in those quarters today. This time the blow has been so severe that even their torrent of excuses to belittle Dhoni and his achievements seems to have run out.

A closer look at their ranks would make one understand that they are biding their time until India’s tour to South Africa arrives. They are hopeful that it will give them a reason to shine again.

As for the other fickle Indian fans, Dhoni is a hero yet again. No praises are enough for ‘captain marvel’. But for any sane Indian fan these epithets wouldn’t matter much. Indian fans have to realize to be patient and reasonable. One does not mind criticism where it is due but going overboard with anything, praise or criticism, is never good which is exactly what majority of the Indian fans indulge in. It is high time that the Indian fan shows some maturity and not get influenced by outside elements. They need to show some love and understanding when our players need them the most, and not just in victories. The time has perhaps come for them to draw a line somewhere between love and hypocrisy.

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