By Babasish Nanda*
The talisman too has insecurities. He too, is made up of blood and sweat and hence, failure is inevitable. But then are we ready to give him a long rope? Mind you he will never ask for it but he definitely deserves it.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Has there been a name written or talked about more in the context of Indian Cricket after Sachin Tendulkar? I don’t think so. And I will tell you why. With Tendulkar, it was a clear case of obsession; people went on writing about him to cater to the madness that surrounded him. A genius. A superman. He was everything that the average Indian wanted in the world of cricket.
However with Dhoni it was mystery. People keep writing or talking about him because they never really know him. They had no clue about the helicopter shot and they will never figure out what his tactics are. A leader. A small town achiever. He is everything that the average Indian could possibly be and hence stayed connected to him. Now you know what makes a bestseller, it is either the story of champion (Sachin) or that of a thriller (Dhoni).
Cricket, just like any other sport thrives on uncertainties. The batsman who once scored a 24 of a fierce Dale Steyn’s (South Africa) final over couldn’t manage a mere 11 against a fairly young Kagiso Rabada of the same team. The same batsman in a matter of three days went on to score a match-winning 92 under immense pressure. Neither his teammates, nor the followers and of course, not the self-proclaimed “pundits” of game saw the unbeaten innings coming.
Games and sports are synonymous to the society we live in: result-oriented. Numbers matter the most just like runs and records. The number of shares, retweets and views is the preferred yardstick, just like the number of wins and wickets. Until, we begin to get impatient if the numbers don’t come immediately.
Are we as a generation, prepared to give the other person the time to work on his flaws and get back on track? Or are we too keen to ‘move on’? Why do we opt to ‘replace’ and not ‘repair’? We prefer one person over the other because we think he or she is better than what we have. But remember, a decision is never about the availability of a better alternative. It is about the right timing. Virat Kohli’s success as a Test Match captain serves the perfect argument against him replacing Dhoni in the ODIs as well.
But then isn’t it too soon a call considering the same captain was a semi-finalist in 2015 Cricket World Cup. And God forbid what if the ‘alternative’ also fails to deliver? Do we look for another one?
We all know the home series against South Africa is crucial for Dhoni. Not just for Dhoni the captain, but also for Dhoni the batsman. With age his hand-eye co-ordination could have taken a beating. But the power to hit a massive six is still there. He is still India’s best bet as captain in the T20 World Cup scheduled in India in March 2016. All we need to do is believe in him because this is the time when he needs our support the most.
He hit a six the other day. Finished the innings on a high, put his head down and walked back to the pavilion. Not a smile, not a word: a legend who transpires hope and not emotions.
The author is a radio cricket commentator and a print journalist who has covered a number of national and International cricket matches. He is now pursuing masters in Sports Journalism from University of Central Lancashire.