X-Men: The MS Dhoni Files
Allow me to let you in on a secret.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a mutant.
Well, almost. But if humans came close to being one of the claw-donning, fire-spewing X-men, Dhoni would most certainly be their daddy. And the best part is, he wasn’t even born with adamantium, and definitely did not have the dash of Flash.
What he did have, and in plenty at that, is The Helicopter.
Ranchi is a city best known for having nurtured Dhoni, and before he was born, for having the cojones to give birth to someone who’d take on the Mighty Tendulkar one day. Not every city in India gets to mess with the big league. Ranchi did not disappoint.
Dhoni was heralded onto the face of planet Earth on July 7, 1981 and decided immediately thatt would be his jersey number. At the age of 3 and a quarter, he was pulverising league cricket dibble-dobblys and by the age of 7, was being considered for the tour down under. He was not taken along. Those in power felt that the Australian bowlers were too young.
Actually, no they didn’t.
Truth is, even when Yuvraj SIngh and Mohammad Kaif were helping Sourav Ganguly with his bare-chested “come at me, bro” moment at Lord’s in that NatWest trophy final, by showing Flintoff that he’d had a bit too much to drink the previous night, Dhoni was a ticket collector on India’s longest railway platform in Kharagpur. He would break tea-sets he got as man-of-the-match awards because his team lost. He owned an ancient Rajdoot, India’s two-wheeled cannon-cycle from the old days. He was 21.
He’s come a long way.
You see, Dhoni is not a fairytale. Dhoni is an epic. Dhoni is one of those novels where there is a tension building, and as it reaches the crescendo, the primal character explodes into life. And Dhoni was that character.
His streetsmart ways were learnt on the streets of Ranchi and Kharagpur. If you want to know how he can summon a six when he’s got to get 15 off 6, almost as if he’s got a button on his bat, it’s because he’s done that a million times before. Except, of course, no one but his tennis-ball teammates would have been lucky enough to have seen those knocks.
When Dhoni says he’s seen everything in cricket, trust him, he has. He‘s no Kevin Pietersen who’s standing at the other end telling everyone they’re not God, but he’ll let you know he is. You can’t do what he does, unless you are a lunatic with Einstein’s calculative abilities in Dwayne Johnson’s body. Such lunatics are hard to find, and so Dhoni is the closest we can get.
Seeing him in the IPL is an experience alright. There are times when I have wondered if he can just sit in the dressing room and control the game with his forefingers on his temple region, and then just collect the cheque, say a few “the bowlers need to improve death bowling” lines, and go home to kill inter-galactic warriors on his laptop.
He still chooses to go out and bat and look like he’s breaking a bit of a sweat over trying to decide which road to send the yorker he senses is on his way. He’d make a great SatNav voice. He’d tell you directions like everyone else, and when it seems like you’re getting delayed, he’ll turn on StreetSmart mode and get you to your destination with three minutes to spare.
Not a bad method to the madness that is Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Not a bad method at all.