Friday, January 06, 2017

Dhoni, the common man's captain

It was 2004, when I was in 3rd year, on my way to complete law, that we saw Dhoni debuting for India. Since I was from Bihar, I had heard about “Mahi” much before than some of my college friends heard about him first.
And in his first match, on his first ball, he was dismissed in the most unlucky way that is possible. He was ‘run out’, when he was sent back by, if I am not mistaken, Mohammad Kaif, who was at the non strikers end.
After the initial 'uhh and ahh' , someone from us, as we watched the match at a TV in the world famous Sakshi Dhaba in Bhopal on a not so cold afternoon, sympathetically commented that how unlucky Dhoni was.
It has been almost 13 years now, and that was the only time that I heard the word ‘unlucky’ and Dhoni in the same breath.
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The Indian cricket fan, for decades, were searching for someone apart from Sachin to look to when India was losing and to get angry on when India eventually lost. They found that person in Dhoni.
“Dhoni hai na?” very slowly and without any great commotion and noise replaced “Sachin hai ki gaya?”.
Soon his tales started becoming more common. One of my friend from Bihar told us that he got his muscular power because he drank 10 litre of milk daily. Another much discussed tale about him was that he was a ‘pagal aashiq’, a mad lover, whose heart was broken by a girl.
For 13 years Dhoni carried the aspirations,dreams and hopes of Indian cricket fans on his shoulders. He was the quintessential common man’s cricketer. When he hit the 6 in the World Cup Finals in Mumbai, he did not celebrate it wildly, he just watched the trajectory of the ball as it sailed over the boundary, unmindful of the roar of the 50000 plus people that were present there. The only expression on his face was that of a man who had finished his job.
The expression a father has when nobody's watching when his daughter’s marriage gets over successfully, the face a mother has when she finally lies down on the bed to sleep at night, after completing her innumerable household chores.
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Why will be miss Dhoni? Because in him we saw a man who was like us. Maybe a cousin brother who too tried but could not break into the state Ranji team, perhaps a friend who too had the same background as Dhoni and now is lost somewhere in the maze of time.
His success did not elicit jealousy, never did. The way he handled it, even when he became one of the the biggest money earner, even then too he was to us the boy next door who had become the Captain of the Indian cricket team.
He was no god, prince, very very special or a wall, he was one of us.

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