Captain you will be missed!

MS Dhoni India AAs MSD enjoys the last stretch of his career as a cricketer, let us just applaud the man who wore a humble smile in victories and took the first bullet when the team lost

The most vivid memory of Mahendra Singh Dhoni that we have is he walking around the park shirtless after India had just snatched victory from the Pakistani jaws in the first ever T20 World Cup final. We grew up idolising a certain Mr. Dravid who by no stretch of even the wildest imagination would be the one doing so but then MSD was nothing like the world had seen earlier. Looks proved to be deceptive, the man was calm on the surface and the man was calmer underneath. Thereafter, it became a regular sight to find MSD walking in the background after various victories as his team celebrated with the usual furore.

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We as fans became cocky as the score board read 13 required off 4 deliveries. MSD at the crease, it was a certain victory. India had set a record of 17 consecutive victories chasing scores under Mr. Ganguly and then majorly under Mr. Dravid (2 under Dada and 15 under Jammy) and MSD probably had studied in the same school of chasing where Mr. Dravid taught just that he had added a few variations of his own. A six required, out came the helicopter!

April 2, 2011, I along with my wife spent the entire evening standing in our living room. Yes we watched the entire India innings standing without realizing it. I will be honest it was not excitement, it was tension. The heartbreaking disbelief of seeing Sehwag and Sachin depart was followed by the promise of a Young Turk to take India to victory. The Young Turk would win many famous victories for his team but unfortunately not on April 2, 2011.

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m s dhoniHis departure led to a rather unexpected sight of Mahendra Singh Dhoni walking into the arena seemingly oblivious of the monstrous task that lay ahead of him. It was unexpected because the nation waited for Yuvraj Singh, the man of the moment, the man with the midas touch, to walk out and shut up the Lankans and their argument. Fans were clueless and the experts were apprehensive. But then MSD never considered any of them once he decided. As he took guard, I smiled. The man had never failed me even in a loss. I called him sant (monk), someone who believed in pursuing his art honestly without desperately seeking success or fearing failure. To him, having done one’s best seemed enough. As he punched Murlidharan through the covers for a boundary, I threw a small punch in the air. For the next two hours or so, we kept standing or moving but never sitting down as MSD and Gautam Gambhir soaked in the pressure of a high-octane run chase.

As India inched closer to victory, muscles relaxed, hands got the company of a glass of soft drink and silence of the living room started getting replaced by talkative anticipation. As MSD hit the maximum to take India into cricketing history, a movie writer’s climax got spoiled. It wasn’t a movie, it was for real. The focus in the captain’s eyes watching the ball sail high over the ropes epitomized his way of functioning -- not taking the eyes off the goal till it was achieved. With that swing of the bat, watching the ball fly, and then bringing the bat down with his trademark swing, MSD liberated me from any more anxiety.

There was no fist pumping in my house, no high fives, no war cry, no beer flew. We just hugged and then I went out for a walk, hands in pocket, smile on face. It was in great contrast to all earlier celebrations where I would shout, run in the street, use expletives. This time it was as if I had attained cricketing nirvana. Mahendra Singh Dhoni had in his own detached way changed me. Now it does not hurt that much when India lose and I just enjoy our victories with studied calm.

The promising Young Turk is all set to lead India into the next decade of achievements and I believe even he has become calmer and more sure of his talent under MSD. I may still run to greet Rahul Dravid over MSD at an airport but trust me Mahi you are the man many want to become. As MSD enjoys the last stretch of his career as a cricketer, let us just applaud the man who wore a humble smile in victories and took the first bullet when the team lost! Captain you will be missed!

By Sudip Bajpai