October 19, 2020

Ending an over 15-year journey, Captain Cool calls it an ‘independence day’

‘Principal pal do pal ka shayar hu.’ With this Mukesh music that talks about an imminent finish to each journey ever taken, Mahendra Singh Dhoni introduced his retirement from worldwide cricket on Saturday, ending an over-15-year journey that was principally a joyride for Indian cricket — and for MSD followers.

Identified for his penchant for taking the sport deep earlier than pulling the rug from below the opposition’s ft, Dhoni did the identical in his retirement. For the final couple of years, there have been robust speculations of his retirement, but it surely by no means got here. However simply when the Covid-19 pandemic centre stage, he dropped the hammer. It doesn’t appear to be a coincidence that the announcement got here on Independence Day.

Simply considered one of India’s hottest — and arguably most scrutinised cricketer of the final 15 years — Dhoni’s profession is a quintessential fairytale. Coming from the cricketing backwaters of Jharkhand, he went on to turn out to be India’s most profitable captain ever, successful the highest prizes in all of the three codecs — ICC No. 1 Check rating, the ODI World Cup, and the T20 World Cup.

As captain, MSD’s greatest achievement may have been how he dealt with the large egos within the Indian dressing room. He did not take care of hierarchy or status — everybody was a part of the 11-member preventing machine — whereas all the time being respectful of his colleagues.

Relaxation got here simple to him — at the least that is the way it appeared simple from the skin. His poker face hardly gave something away to the opposition. He sucked in stress like a vacuum cleaner. The way in which he manoeuvred his troops on the sphere so many instances gave the look of a grandmaster organising a entice on the chess board. Dhoni was all the time conscious of the restrictions of his bowlers and helped them punch effectively above their weight together with his masterly studying of the sport.

MSD selected effectiveness over class. His homespun batting and wicket-keeping methods weren’t all the time simple on the attention — his trademark ‘helicopter shot’ made the purists blanch — however he realized and improvised to turn out to be so efficient in his commerce that he grew to become the benchmark. His fast palms and sensible strikes behind the stumps made the identical purists acknowledge that there are issues that teaching manuals can’t educate.

He grew to become a well-rounded limited-overs batsman who may accumulate runs when the going was powerful, construct the innings after a lot harm had been wreacked, and do the heavy hitting when wanted. For a very long time, he was the very best finisher in white ball cricket on the earth. No sport was over so long as Dhoni was within the center.

MSD’s Check profession wasn’t a laggard both. Although he’ll all the time be remembered for his white ball exploits, he had his fair proportion of success in whites. Aside from taking the group to the top, he should be credited for rebuilding the group after a number of giants of the sport retired.

With age, Dhoni’s batting began to fail him. Although he may nonetheless graft and showcase an occasional masterclass, he the ending touches weren’t as simple to come back by to assist him retain the religion of his teammates. He was nonetheless supremely match — most likely as match as his successor Virat Kohli — and his wicket-keeping abilities had been as sharp as ever. However he was now not a dependable batsman down the order.

The lure and availability of youthful expertise was additionally making MSD’s place more and more untenable. The issues had been being accentuated by inflated expectations. After each failure, Dhoni was being in comparison with his personal previous. Clearly, he would fail to match as much as such a legacy. More and more, there have been recommendations that he ought to step down earlier than he was dropped.

However Dhoni was too huge to be dropped like that. It will have made everybody in BCCI and within the group ‘look dangerous’. The choice needed to come from him. And it did — maybe a bit later than anticipated.

MSD’s over-boundary at Wankhede that introduced the World Cup ‘residence’ in 2011 will all the time stay etched within the collective reminiscence of 1.three billion Indians. Although he hasn’t been the captain of any Indian aspect since 2017, he’ll all the time be our Captain Cool.