On the 25th of April, 2018 the Chennai Super Kings beat the Royal Challengers Bangalore by 5 wickets in a high scoring affair. While Ambati Rayudu blasted 82 after scoring 79 in the match before, MS Dhoni scored 70 off 34, hitting the winning six as Virat Kohli’s strange decision of giving Corey Anderson the last over failed miserably.
In the long list of achievements Dhoni boasts of in his cricketing career, and there are many, one that he has come to claim has been that of a finisher. He has done it so many times for India. But in almost all those memorable Indian victories, you cannot help but notice that there is an element of destiny there, almost like Dhoni himself wrote those scripts. There has been a crunch decision made at various stages of the match, batting or fielding, that has ultimately won him those matches. Everybody knows the decisions he made in the two World Cup finals he has led India in. The most recent example happened on the 25th of April. Chasing 206, Chennai found themselves three down for not many on the board. With Yuzvendra Chahal weaving a web around the right handers, Dhoni sent in the other left handed bat in the CSK lineup, Ravindra Jadeja. He may not have lasted long, but the temporary negation of the kind of spin Chahal was getting went a long way in how CSK chased the target down in the last 5 overs.
Such quick thinking has given Dhoni a 'child of destiny' aura. It is the sort of aura that makes CSK, along with RCB, one of the few franchises which has fans all over the country. It is the sort of aura that made Chennai fall in love with the genius of Dhoni. And though there is a lot of talk regarding the age of this CSK team, Dhoni has shown faith in a wily old customer like Imran Tahir while at the same time backing a relative newcomer like Deepak Chahar. To an extent, Dhoni out-thought Virat Kohli that evening. But that is hardly surprising when his own teammate, Suresh Raina says that ,”Before every game, Dhoni has three game plans, so irrespective of what happens during the match, he knows the game is his, which is why he’s so calm on the field.” Brilliance also lies in his marketability simply as a captain, as is evidenced by the tagline of the popular sports game, Dream XI, 'now everybody gets to be Dhoni', where participants choose the players they think will be part of the playing XI, giving them a feeling of what it may be like to be India's most successful captain. He’s brought innovation into the game too, with his unique stumping method having drawn all sorts of praise, even from British comedian Stephen Fry who named Dhoni as a player he would pay money to watch. Another keen observer of the game remarked,” With his technique he should be making so many mistakes, but he just doesn’t make any.”
Which is why that 70* is all the more special. Which is why entire populations support entire teams simply because HE is in the team. His handling of Negi and Chahal was almost as if he didn’t care whether the equation was 100 from 8 or 100 from 80. He had a plan, and with Dhoni, even God probably wouldn’t dare stop that plan from succeeding. It reaffirmed that oft-repeated adage ‘if Dhoni is there, anything is possible’ , something Indians have said, almost in reflex, whenever India were heading towards defeat, no matter how probable or improbable the result. And something is always possible, for if a man can walk out into battle with the intent that Dhoni has, few have a chance of coming out of the ordeal unscathed.Published 28 Apr 2018, 10:36 IST