The helicopter shot to win the 2011 World Cup is now entrenched in legend but Dhoni meant much, much more
In another life, Mahendra Singh Dhoni might have ended up checking tickets on the Indian Railways but fate intervened in a strange way and he became the symbol of a resurgent India. Mentored by Sourav Ganguly to a leadership role, Dhoni took the Indian men’s cricket team to incredible heights, making it lead in all formats of the game. If the nation bleeds blue whenever team India plays, it is because the current cricket team is carved in Dhoni’s image. While there is no doubt that it is Virat Kohli’s team today, Dhoni is the man Virat owes his early success and analytical thinking to. Dhoni is the man who instilled a winning habit, so much so that in India, we often take cricket for granted these days.
Make no mistake, Dhoni wasn’t just a leader because of his ability to manage and control the fragile egos that come with top-level athletes. In one of the few team sports — where being a Captain makes an actual difference because he is the one who sets the field and decides on the strategy quite unlike football — Dhoni was the thinking man’s Captain. Something that comes through in his leadership at the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), to the extent that one often thinks that this boy from Ranchi could one day stand for politics in Tamil Nadu and win by a landslide. While other cricket fans in India might not like the “Whistle Podu” army from the southern city, the success of CSK is due to, in no small part, Dhoni’s canny leadership. While Dhoni was past his prime and his retirement was not unexpected, the fact that he chose to do so in his usual understated manner should not surprise anyone. While he was always fond of fast cars and motorcycles, he shied away from too much glitz and glamour, choosing to spend time in Ranchi rather than in Delhi or Mumbai. And while he had a movie made about his life’s journey — something few other cricketers have had done — Dhoni let his bat and team do the talking for him more often than not. But when he did speak, he spoke sensibly and logically. Maybe there is a future for Dhoni as a management consultant and he will remain on the cricket field for a few more seasons but sadly not in India Blue ever again.
Courtesy: The Pioneer