"From 1929 Hrs, consider me as retired." Boy, these words sounded no less than a thunderclap. Cricket fans and enthusiasts across the country have been scratching their heads in disbelief ever since the news of MS Dhoni's retirement came to light.
What's with 1929?
People have talked at length about MS Dhoni's decision to call it a day. Well, that's understandable, perhaps because MS Dhoni has been the greatest Indian cricketer to have ever played the game (let's not talk of Tendulkar's greatness).
Surprisingly, a major chunk of his fan base is busy decoding his decision to retire at 1929 hrs.
Just to clear the air, 1929 holds immense significance in numerology. Rumour has it that '1929' marks the end of a major cycle in your life. It goes without saying that MS Dhoni has achieved whatever he was meant to achieve as a cricketer.
Having been at the helm of affairs for over a decade, he captained the side in 200 ODIs. It was under his captaincy that India ended up winning the inaugural edition of the ICC World Twenty20. Those who had the privilege of watching him bat could not take his eyes off him. India's triumphant World Twenty20 campaign made it clear that the lad from Jharkhand was destined for greatness.
An aggressor like no other
Think of MS Dhoni and the first thing that is bound to fly through the mind is fearlessness. MS Dhoni's innings against Pakistan in the Vizag ODI will forever remain etched in the hearts of Indian cricket fans. Here was a lad who did not think once before sending the bowlers packing. If Sehwag and Yuvraj were the early custodians of the art of hitting, then Dhoni went a step ahead and took it upon himself to tear the opposition's bowling attack towards the latter half of the innings.
A thinking captain with a cricketing brain
Well, last-minute gambles have always played a major role in MS Dhoni's career. During the early part of his career, he came across as a street-smart cricketer who could read and analyse match situations in the same way that a statistician reads bar graphs and questionnaires.
Under his captaincy, the Indians went a step ahead and prioritised the team's cause over individual records. "A captain is just as good as the team," is what people say, but MS Dhoni made sure that the team was way more than the sum of its parts.
Also, Dhoni could target bowlers at will during the slog overs. A barrage of boundaries and sixes often followed a cautious start. Who can possibly forget the CB series encounter of 2012 wherein the Indians took on the Aussies at the Adelaide Oval?
Needing 12 off 4, Dhoni hit a monstrous six to steal an unlikely victory for India with a couple of balls to spare.
He owned the medium pacers, to say the least, but it wasn't just the medium pacers that he owned, as even the likes of Shoaib Akhtar and Brett Lee didn't feel at home while bowling to him during the slog overs.
He could smash a cricket ball right over the bowler's head with effortless ease. Known for his ability to pull off 'miracles' every now and then, it was his calm demeanor that ended up turning him into a fan favourite.
Here is how Joy Bhattacharya puts it:
"When I was in the IPL, I used to marvel that coaches, captains and bowlers would stay awake at night wondering what MS Dhoni would do against them while I knew that Dhoni would probably not lose a minute's sleep about all that."
Agricultural, but effective
MS Dhoni's cricketing manual revolved around one belief: score as many as you can as long as you are out there. MS Dhoni looked for scoring opportunities and nothing else. He didn't move around at the crease but used his wrists (and that formidable bottom hand of his) to generate immense power.
Also, his running between the wickets made it tough for bowlers to stem the flow of runs. He could convert the ones into two and the twos into threes.
For most of his career, MS Dhoni was a bottom-handed player who could tonk the ball to all corners of the park.
His fans will remember him for the runs he scored and the sixes he hit, but others will always remember him for the iconic six that helped India seal the 2011 World Cup. 15 years after making his ODI debut, the runs he scored can be seen ornamenting the record books, while the stories have become an integral part of the Indian cricketing folklore.
Here's wishing a very happy retirement to the 39-year-old.Published 17 Aug 2020, 18:27 IST