Keeping the faith in Dhoni, the man and the cricketer

MS Dhoni and his habit of pulling off a heist

How do you start describing MS Dhoni?

Probably not at the beginning of an article where you’re simply clueless about the choice of words. Then struggling to frame sentences as you talk about his technique, making gross errors that make the readers want to pull out their hair.

But as you reach the word limit, you magically throw in a couple of poetic tributes, summing up his extraordinary play in a lyrical climax best deserved for triumphant mythological warriors.

Now that would be doing justice to Dhoni, the cricketer.

And what about the man himself?

No rhythmic structure here for Mr. Dhoni. Simple prose, including some witty one liners would do. Easily understandable, no fuss involved, spoken with a smile on the face.

At first, Dhoni as a man may seem to be very different from Dhoni, the cricketer. But the core mindset, to break things down to simpler form, make them less complex and deal with situations at a very basic level remains the same for both.

In the tri-series final, his customary jailbreak act literally snatched the silverware away from Sri Lanka. In the celebratory chaos that ensued in the middle, with his young teammates running onto the ground to grab him, he could be heard on the TV saying to them, “Arre pehle inse milne do” (let me meet them first), pointing to the Sri Lankan players.

No over the top celebrations for MS Dhoni

No over the top pumping of the fist in the air or screaming out loud for MS. A simple handshake with the losing team was the priority. So typical of the man.

It’s hard to imagine being in such a pressure situation, overcoming the odds and not letting the heat out.

But think again.

It’s not the first time he has done it. It’s not an unknown situation for him either.

Take this for an example – In his 225-match ODI career for India so far since December 2004, there has been only one instance when Dhoni remained not out till the end of the innings while chasing and India lost. Only once (against Pakistan this year).

Dhoni has remained not out 35 times while chasing. 33 times India have won while on one occasion, the match was tied (against Sri Lanka in the 2012 CB series).

Thus, the calmness. Thus, the cool demeanour after doing the near-impossible.

More than just the ability, it’s the superlative trust Dhoni has in his ability that has taken India and CSK over the final hurdle on many occasions now.

That binding thought process which joins Dhoni, the man and the cricketer, of keeping things simple, is evident in these heists.

With 15 overs to go in a game, the target and the calculations take a backseat for the cricketer. A scoring opportunity isn’t missed, a good delivery is blocked and runs are accumulated by quick running and smart shot selection and placement.

He’s prepared to play out a maiden over or two in the quest for survival. The not-out mark against Dhoni’s name on the scoreboard should be the biggest source of relief for a worrying fan. He pulls off miracles in the end. He has pulled off miracles in the end.

Dhoni, the man, meanwhile will continue to follow the same simplicity off the field. He tweeted this today:

In the following months, Dhoni will be under the radar as much it is possible for an Indian cricket team captain. Expect no cricket analysis from the man and no ‘expert’ comments on the young Indian team’s performance in Zimbabwe.

The man has taken a break from cricket and cricket, in Dhoni’s life, remains balanced.

It’s hard to put your trust in other people’s abilities alone. But it’s much easier to rest your faith in people who display such unparalleled trust in their own abilities.

“I think I am blessed with a bit of good cricketing sense,” Dhoni said after the final.

Along with brute power, quick wit, all-round talent and excellent man-management skills, this ‘good cricketing sense’ has surely guaranteed MS Dhoni’s place among the all-time greats of the game.

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