When a coin is flipped at the beginning of each cricket match, the outcome is unpredictable! However, we also know that each side holds a 50-50 per cent chance, which also makes all this seem predictable- in a way. But what keeps us hanging to the edge the seat is the anticipation of the eventual result.
This is how I see MS Dhoni – the unpredictably predictable captain (till yesterday) cool of the Indian cricket team – who has not stopped surprising anyone since the day he made his ODI debut in 2004 against Bangladesh. He came with an air of enigma with his long hair and helicopter shots that just left room for awe – nothing else. And then, it wasn’t long before it became evident, that this guy is here to stay with us for quite some time.
Years of Glory
We Indians never really grew out of the nostalgia of 1983 World Cup win, and the 2007 World Cup was the bearer of the same news of defeat making times grimmer for the Indian cricket team. The reins of captaincy were hanging loose for the forthcoming first T20 World Cup in South Africa after Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly selflessly decided, not to play in that tournament and ensure that the younger lot got its chance.
Then came the surprising decision by the selectors, which would change the course of Indian cricket forever. The boy from Ranchi with just about 4 years of experience in international cricket, was made the captain of a young team that would face the best of the world at the biggest platform of cricketing arena. And emerging from the clouds of doubt, Dhoni took India on a cricket journey that it will never be able to get back from.
His unprecedented glory, which will be extremely hard to repeat, is being the only captain in the history of the game, to hold top three ICC trophies together – the ICC Champions Trophy, 50-over World Cup and T20 World Cup.
The man’s captaincy has a win percentage of 59.57, by far the best that any Indian captain has tasted. Like a magician with a trick behind his sleeve, he would make a move that nobody saw coming.
Remember when he promoted himself to No. 5, ahead of the in-form Yuvraj Singh, to neutralise the effect of the spinners in the 2011 World Cup. Or his nonchalance, when he would walk up to a bowler and say something in his ear and we knew something was up. The magician had planted his trick. Well, we all sure will miss these moments on the screen now.
The collateral damage
However, while his unpredictability has been baffling the opponents since forever now, it has also been the cause of the various controversies surrounding him. Be it the accusations of favouritism, Ganguly and Dravid’s exclusion from the ODI team, IPL betting, Yuvraj’s father blaming Dhoni or just his relationship with the media in general, the collateral damage could not be saved. But surprisingly, while all the captains in the past (including the great Ganguly) faced a lot of flake and job scrutiny for losing matches overseas, Dhoni remained untouchable.
Though, one will never know how true these allegations were or are, what we do know is that given his place, anyone would have been over-rawed by the kind of responsibility he was handed down, and in the course he must have had to make some tough decisions. Although what he never compromised with is giving India a win and the rest of the world, a nail-biting match.
Reasons behind retirement
While we would leave it to Dhoni to come out and give his reasons for making this move, we should know that like his unforeseen December 2014 announcement to retire from Test cricket, his decision to retire as captain from the ODIs and T20Is comes with reasons best for him and the team. He has not retired all together, which means he could get back to the time when his shots flew in the air with no care and also give ample time to his successor- Virat Kohli, to learn few more tricks from him.
Having said that, a little speculation too arises in my mind, when I think why this decision came just 2 days after Anurag Thakur was removed as BCCI President. Did Dhoni think that he might face the axe now, considering the whole management of BCCI is on the brink of losing its job and Saurav Ganguly, whom he famously axed for being slow in the field from the ODI team, is touted to be the next BCCI boss?
We know the toll captaincy took on Dhoni, seeing his hair change from orange to black to grey, but does this mean that the captiain has decided to jump off the sinking ship, or it could be that his time to go through the troubles of a dealing the new President again has passed
Like his long time coach said last evening- it was best that he left, before being asked to move on!
Words by – Ritu Kochar