October 16, 2021 9:00:27 am
Mahendra Singh Dhoni once again won an IPL final, and as in the past he delivered the Cup to his mates as unceremoniously as a busy postman delivering mail and placed himself on the fringes of the team photo. He would soon look bored. He would walk off the ground, leaving behind his happy bunch enjoying the shower of golden glitter under the magical Dubai sky. The match had been over some time back but the fans hadn’t stopped wondering: How does he remain so detached? To be calm under pressure is one thing, but to be impassive in the hour of glory is a trait that few have and thus induces awe. Here’s a story that attempts to explain the enigma that is MS Dhoni.
It’s days like this Friday, that reporters fear the most. Sports writers, working on tight deadlines, dread the sudden change of plans. When you are all set to write a grand victory story, you can’t be suddenly penning a tribute piece. With Dhoni, at 40, you never know, when he calls it quits. Not one to be carried away by trophies or titles, he can walk away without a hint. Like he did in Australia. In the middle of a Test series, he quit the game’s longest format. On winning his fourth IPL title, there were whispers that the CSK captain might have that grand announcement. While talking to Harsha Bhogle post-match, he started with a pregnant pause. “Before I talk about CSK, I want to talk about …”. Several skipped a heart-beat. Normalcy was restored only after he completed the sentence “… KKR and the way they fought back.”.
With the mic sill in his hand, the suspense wasn’t over. Thanks to Harsha Bhogle, the world could breathe easy.
Harsha: You can be proud of the legacy you left behind at CSK
MS: Well, I still haven’t left.
Beyond the big final, this IPL will also be remembered for Virat Kohli’s last game as RCB captain. Sriram Veera didn’t blink an eyelid when the camera was on the King without the title. Here’s a frame-by-frame account of that game in case you have missed..
With the game slipping out of his hands, he looked sullen. That’s when my mind went to a casual interaction with him, a day after the 2008 under-19 World Cup win in Kuala Lumpur. Kohli had led the team to an incredible title win. While in Malaysia, he had been picked by RCB at IPL’s inaugural auction. Those were heady days, for a teenager, life couldn’t have been more eventful. Grinning from ear-to-ear when he was asked about his plans on reaching home he had said, “Kingfisher wale party de rahe hain”. From rookie to a captain to the team’s premier batsman, Kohli’s IPL with RCB is a story for another day.
The week also saw the news every Indian cricket fan wanted to hear. Devendra Pandey broke the story that Rahul Dravid could be the interim coach post-World T20 when Ravi Shastri’s contract ends.
Comments sections on twitter and facebook were full of appeals to give Dravid a long-term contract with the Indian team. Call it paranoia but Dravid has the potential to be world cricket’s most-sought after coach. An anecdote at this point wouldn’t be out of place. During the 2011 tour of England, India travelled to Kent for a side game. Many of Dravid’s old Kent mates drove down to meet him. There were also a few officials at St Lawrence ground who said how once Dravid retired they would love him here as the coach. BCCI, don’t say we didn’t warn you, sign up Dravid for good.
As for you readers, don’t say we didn’t warn you, sign up with The Indian Express quickly as our special World T20 coverage starts next week.
National Sports Editor
The Indian Express
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