THE ENIGMA THAT IS MS DHONI
2020 as we all know has been an odd cup of tea for all with a pinch of disappointment and hopelessness it’s sugar and opportunities it’s milk. And to awaken us cricket fans from a forced hibernation the optimal blend of milk and sugar was back. The queen of all cricket tournaments in the world – IPL. IPL 2020 was supposedly the greatest IPL edition in terms of overall viewers and commercial success. And despite the presence of many modern-day legends, the most talked about player in this IPL was MS Dhoni. Post his witty retirement announcement, all eyes were going to be on IPL 2020 and CSK. Cricket fanatics wanted to have the most of him as long as he played. But as it turned out, 2020 wrath its spell even around the 3 times IPL champions. Many people saw this as an aberration while many thought that this has to be the end of MS as CSK’s captain. Well, I don’t know about the end but let’s see how it started and panned out over the years.
MSD initially used to come out to bat later in the innings where he would smack the bowlers all over the park with immense power. To make most of him, chances were granted to him at no. 3 and no. 4 where he could get a sufficient amount of balls to face, his innings of 148 and 183* act as proof of his immaculate ability. In just 27 innings he went on to become the No. 1 ODI batsman in the ICC rankings, ahead of Ponting, Sachin, and Sangakarra. India had found a keeper-batsman who could give them a perfect balance in the middle order along with the likes of Yuvraj Singh and Kaif. Captaining India was never his dream, but yet it was given to him in the 2007 T20 WC.
There started a great love story of Dhoni and trophies. A young side, with very little experience of playing T20 and captaining for the first time at a big stage, any guy would have given up under such pressure. With such a young side he maintained a healthy balance in the team using the experience of his ‘seniors’ as well as backing young guys like Rohit, Uthappa, and Joginder Sharma. With heroics from Yuvi, brilliant bowling performances, and players standing up for their team at the right time helped India claw its way to the finals. And the final against Pakistan is a beautiful story in itself.
Final over of a world cup final and given the Indo-Pak rivalry (which in my opinion eclipses the Ashes), Misbah-ul-Haq was standing at the crease waiting to slog everything with just 13 runs to win when MSD gave the ball to the inexperienced young medium-pace bowler who I think was destined to play cricket only to bowl that over. If you are not scared you’re not taking a chance and if you’re not taking a chance what the hell you are doing anyway?. MS did a Ted Mosby before Ted Mosby.
After becoming the full-time captain of all 3 formats, MS did what every leader has to – sacrifices. From 3-4, he shifted his position down the order to 6-7, because not everyone had the ability like him to finish the game. Unlike Test cricket, lower-order positions have always been of the highest importance. And with the induction of T20 cricket, more so than ever. MS was not a Picasso of finishing, but a good economist if one understands the economics of his formula. Targeting the bowler at the right time where the risk to reward ratio is very low and snatching the game away in the last overs (because the opportunity cost of losing his wicket in the middle overs is very high) has been his formula over the years and has proved very successful for him until now.
But is finishing just about optimizing a built situation by others? Certainly not. Taking the inning forward from a batting collapse to a respectable total is a very important facet of finishing which not all can do. Here are some instances where Dhoni did the unthinkable and India fought right till the end.
1st ODI, Dec 30, 2012, Pakistan tour of India:- World cup champions collapsed like a deck of cards against a formidable spell of Junaid Khan and reached a score of 29-5 at the end of 10 overs. This inning of Dhoni still has a special place in my heart where he fought right along till the end with Ashwin to post a total of 227/6 thanks to his brilliant century. Though India lost this match, Dhoni won our hearts, again.
2nd ODI, Jan 19, 2017, England Tour of India:- Seldom will one forget this match where the world got to reminisce the vintage Mahi-Yuvi partnership. India was 25-3 with the top 3 back into the pavilion. Then happened something which still brings out the child in me. Mahi-Yuvi slowly started to build the innings and India posted a mammoth 381 post sheer domination by these two where Yuvi scored 150 and Dhoni scored 134. Cricket has always been a game of partnerships – be it at batting or bowling.
2nd ODI, Aug 24, 2017, India tour of Srilanka:- When India plays Srilanka, Virat and Rohit’s eyes pop up like a predator who has just seen its prey. India was 109-1 at 15 overs chasing 236. In the next 5 overs, Indian batsmen were wrapped by the spell of Akila Dhananjaya, and India were reduced to 131-7. An easy win turned around its head and now we were looking at a lost cause. Yet Dhoni arrived and brought out the best of Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, where the latter score a half-century and India won that match.
There have been many such innings and instances where Dhoni stood at the crease and gave some context to the match. After the Semi-final loss, a viral post said, “ You know what Dhoni’s greatest achievement is? At 5 for 3, 1.25 billion people believed.” If that struck a chord somewhere in you, then you’ll really understand the enigma that is MS DHONI.
SY B.Sc. Economics