Dreams die hard, when it comes to Dhoni!
These are days when one dare say it is the toughest to be in the boots of a person by name Mahendra Singh Dhoni! With speculations and opinions on retirement flying around like the very many short balls or bouncers he had faced across the 22-yard strip, Dhoni many would wonder would be having a torrid time. Does he have a peace of mind or freedom to move around without being constantly questioned even if politely?
For all we know, the batting cum wicket-keeping great must himself be only sporting his trademark smile and be oblivious of what is around. That perhaps is his trait. Dhoni of cricket vintage fame hardly wears emotions on the sleeve and that perhaps is one big quality that has made him what he is, a unique cricketer but with all the sensibilities of a dedicated player.
Who can forget his heroics with the bat. Not for nothing was he considered one of the greatest finishers. Just the 2011 world cup is enough to place him there high on the pedestal of fame. The famous six that sent Indian fans into rapturous delight is still fresh to cricket lovers for that one shot brought India its second world cup triumph, coming as it did after a gap of 28 years.
There have been so many more such great moments that decorate his illustrious cricketing career. Be it in the shorter versions of the game or the IPL matches, Dhoni has earned a special place in the hearts of his fans so much so like any legend, his entire heroics on the cricket field are etched in their memory.
A very enthusiastic fan has in fact even listed the number of times he had hit a six to finish off a match in his team's favour. Under this according to this fan, Dhoni has on 13 occasions finished the last ball he faced in ODIs with a six (eight times while chasing), eight times in T 20 cricket (thrice while chasing) and three times in Test cricket (once while chasing).
How far this tallies with the official records it is not easy to say but the fact to stress is that such is the involvement of a cricket lover all because of the entertainment value that Dhoni has been and how he had endeared himself to his fans, not only in India but outside too.
What adds to the greatness to this man is the way he had come up, from a relatively unknown (from a cricket selector’s eyes) Jharkhand to not only bring his state to cricketing awareness but progressed to lead Indian cricket and with such success.
A biopic of his, even if in filmy style, presents a mirror image of the man's upbringing, his tough childhood and his unrelenting passion for cricket, something for which he was prepared to go any distance and sacrifice any amount of energy.
Like the way Tendulkar was to his legion of fans, Dhoni too was expected to delight each times he came to the middle. That is why when India regrouped in the semi-final against New Zealand in the World cup last year after five wickets had gone there was so much expectation on Dhoni providing the finishing touch.
But that crucial run out off a direct hit by Martin Guptill which caught him inches from the crease virtually brought things to a standstill, so to say, in cricket-crazy India. Dhoni left, India lost and a cricketing gloom set in.
Even that set back seemed forgettable after some time but it was Dhoni's decision to take a long layoff and silence himself from the probing media that set the tongues wagging. As a commentator was to say every cricketer is unique in his own way and Dhoni is no different. He has done what he believed appealed to him most.
If his joining the army or being a paratrooper was unique so was his penchant for cars and fancy two-wheelers. And when it came to cricket it was nothing short of being one hundred per cent fit. His running between wickets or his alertness behind the wicket have been adored as much as the ability to provide the muscular and wristy touch to shots that sailed over the field.
So did the lay off allude to anything? The man himself seemed unperturbed by the discussions day in and day out. His decision to spend a good length of his long stay away from cricket with the army only added fuel to the fire. And now when the BCCI decided to remove him from the Annual contract because he was out of national cricket from September onwards, the expectations grew of an imminent announcement of retirement. Hardly!
The art of leaving the ball, it is said is the key to success in batting. They say of Sunil Gavaskar that his mastery over the outgoing ball was a big reason for his phenomenal success aside from his sound technique. Gavaskar many felt left the national scene when he could have stayed on for some more years. He too was a legend but knew when to leave and that perhaps is why he has been vocal on Dhoni's stance.
But Dhoni is hardly finished yet. There is the IPL next and the last one heard about him was that he was practicing hard with his Jharkand team colleagues! Who knows the darling of Chennai crowd thanks to his intense association with Chennai Super King team, could still come out with a smashing success. Would he then become a contender to the national team? Everything could be a dream but when it comes to Dhoni, dreams die hard!