Written by Sriram Veera | Wellington | March 17, 2015 11:19 am
MS Dhoni is the greatest Houdini of our times. Every time he has been under some pressure, questions asked either about his cricket or integrity, and public ire seems about to hit him, Dhoni has had this amazing way to bounce back to stardom with his exploits on the field. (Full Coverage| Points table| Fixtures)
When his leading bowler Ishant Sharma pulled out of this World Cup, his most reliable bowler Bhuvneswar Kumar too got injured, and the bowling roster had some inexperienced names like Mohit Sharma, it seemed his incredible run as an ODI captain might have run its course, his bowlers have picked up an incredible 60 wickets in the tournament and remained unbeaten so far. Saddled with a weak bowling attack, a unit that was pulverised in the Australian Test and tri-series, the lack of form of his opener Shikhar Dhawan and absence of a genuine allrounder, no one really expected much of this team.
But he now stands within three games from retaining the World Cup. Which cricket follower would have even dared to imagine this possibility? That this Indian team can sail so strongly into the quarters, and take all the opposition wickets, and look like world beaters? Even the most parochial Indian fan couldn’t have envisioned this.
It’s not as if this is the first time he is doing this. The past is flooded with several chapters from this utterly fascinating story of Dhoni the Houdini.
When his name was dragged in the courts over the fixing saga, his team entered the Asia Cup final in Bangladesh last year. When his name was again in the muck over his silence or “lie” to the Mudgal Panel about Gurunath Meiyappan’s role in Chennai Super Kings and he refused to answer questions on the issue as he left for London, he returned to the country with the Champions Trophy.
When he was given a fairly inexperienced and not-so-great team for his early stint as captain, he came back with the Twenty20 World Cup. When critics had almost written his epitaph as a Test batsman overseas, and that seemed a shut-and-close case actually, he managed to sparkle as a Test batsman in the last tour of England. In fact he was one of India’s best batsman on the tour.
Winning them over
When the emotional Bengal fans were lamenting the retirement of Sourav Ganguly and some mischievous rumours spread about Dhoni’s involvement in that decision to hasten the retirement, he quietly gave Ganguly some time to captain in the final game, and won over passionately parochial hearts.
Shaking off pressure
When questions were raised about his captaincy, especially after news swirled about alleged rift between him and Gambhir/Sehwag camps in 2012, he simply announced on the tour that he will quit one of the formats of the game by 2013. Public sympathy swung again.
When Virat Kohli’s “aggressive” captaincy was hailed all around, and it seemed as if his own Test captaincy might be questioned, Dhoni, suddenly, announced his retirement from Tests. People were again with him, raving about his timing and decision to move on, and both his and Kohli’s fans were happy.
Just imagine the pressure in each of the above circumstance. It might have been asphyxiating to most of us but somehow, incredibly, he has emerged out of every one of them with great poise, and successfully turned things in his favour. There might be an element of luck too but it would be an unhinged mind which puts all this to fortune. It’s a testament to his strong character, his strength of mind, and to this great ability to wriggle out of crisis in an utterly stunning way.