MS Dhoni- A Folk Hero; A Symbol Of Hope Who Made India Dream The Unthinkable

MS Dhoni- A Folk Hero; A Symbol Of Hope Who Made India Dream The Unthinkable

MS Dhoni [Photo-Getty]

It was inevitable, wasn’t it? It was inevitable right from the moment Martin Guptill threw that THAT freak of a throw to run him out, shattering a billion hopes on that fateful evening of July 10, 2019. You could see the disappointment in his eyes; you could see how shattered he was as he made that long walk back to the pavilion. He knew he was done. He knew that this was it. We knew it too. We knew it that will never see the legendary MS Dhoni walk out to bat or keep in Indian colors. Yet, we held on to that unflinching hope in that little corner of our heart which still said that- maybe, just maybe we would see the enigmatic MS Dhoni walkout in national colors again for one more time, even as our logical thinking shrugged it off.

We still hoped. We still prayed for the miracle. We still thought that maybe a good Indian Premier League stint could pave way for his return to the side. Deep down we knew that it was unlikely but we still hoped that with the T20 World Cup taking place on home soil next year, we could possibly give a fairytale exit to one of the greatest folk heroes that this beautiful country has ever seen.

But, little did we realize that MS Dhoni doesn’t really believe in a fairytale. He never has, he probably never will. And, so just like that, he walked into the sunset by thanking all his fans for their support over the years and with a 4-minute video that encapsulated all his highs and lows of his international career. Yup! That’s it. Done and dusted! That 4-minute video shared by Dhoni is a perfect epitome of his personality; someone who always believed in the process rather than the end result. Unlike others, who would have picked just the good moments of their career in the video, Dhoni chose to pick the zenith of his achievements as well as the nadir of his disappointments.

For every historic feat in his career- and there were many- there was the 2007 World Cup disappointment where he was dismissed for a duck against Sri Lanka that led to fans burning his effigy. For every titular heist, there was the disappointment of the 0-4 series whitewash in England and Australia or that heartbreaking run-out in the 2019 semi-final. Who does that? But then, MS Dhoni is unique; he is different.

Also Read- 5 Best Memories Of Captain MS Dhoni

MS Dhoni A small-town boy who gave wings to the aspirations of a billion Indians

Great innings by Indian batsman that ended in a heartbreak
MS Dhoni (Photo-Pinterest)

MS Dhoni meant many things for an Indian fan. He was master wicketkeeper; he was shrewd but cool-and-calm leader of the pack; he was of-course the destructive white-ball finisher, whose presence gave them hope even in the direst of situations. But above all of this, MS  Dhoni was a symbol of hope for the millions of Indians, hailing in obscure small towns bereft of any facilities; his success gave an injection of confidence to the small town youth of this country and much like what Kapil Dev did in the 1980s, his success gave them hope that no matter who you are and where you are if you have that desire burning in your heart that nothing can stop you from succeeding in whatever field you choose.

MS Dhoni was a symbol of calm. Cast your mind back to the early days of the 2000s when Team India used to lose the crunch moments despite boasting of the greatest talent in the world and eventually end up the second-best team. That all changed with the arrival of Dhoni -the captain. One of the biggest reasons for that whirlwind change was that MSD never believed in results. He was almost unfazed by it. He believed in the process and during that process even if the team ended up losing, it never really bothered him.

MS Dhoni- A Folk Hero; A Symbol Of Hope Who Made India Dream The Unthinkable
MS Dhoni [Photo-Getty]
Cast your mind back to the 2007 T20 World Cup final. Do you think that a captain who was more worried about the end result would have given the last over to a rookie Joginder Sharma? Mind you, if India hadn’t won the game, Dhoni would have been lambasted by everyone for not giving the last over to an experienced Harbhajan Singh. And, he knew that pretty well. But all Dhoni cared about was the process. All he cared about was to give an opportunity to someone who was willing to prove himself at the highest level, even if that meant putting the game and the title on the line. But, then he was a gambler; and a pretty good one.

India won the T20 World Cup and that heralded a whirlwind revolution in not only Indian cricket but also world cricket. The IPL came along and world cricket was never the same again. MS Dhoni was the torchbearer of that whirlwind revolution; his teams’ success in the maiden T20 World Cup made India fall in love with T20 cricket.

Also Read- Sourav Ganguly’s Masterstroke Of Promoting MS Dhoni At No. 3 That Changed Indian Cricket Forever

MS Dhoni- The Climax King- who gave India hope in the direst of circumstances

MS Dhoni- A Folk Hero Who Gave India Hope
MS Dhoni (Photo-Reuters)

Dhoni was an epitome of how one should adjust themselves according to the situation. He has burst on the scene as his cool dude with long hair and a penchant to hit every cricket ball he faced out of the park. And, he did that with disdain in the first 2-3 years of his career. Remember that 148 against Pakistan in ’05 which parachuted him to instant fame or his 183 against Sri Lanka which established him as one of the greatest finishers that this beautiful game has ever seen?

But as he became captain, he brought a method to his madness. Dhoni was an epitome of what immense self-confidence can do to a person. He was like that Bollywood hero of the 80s, who would let all the villains- with their knife-edged sharpened and their revolvers loaded- surround him and allow them to knock him over before suddenly pulling a rabbit of the hat, only to leave everyone gobsmacked.

Remember how he shredded Irfan Pathan to pieces by smoking him for 16 in the final over in the 2010 IPL or when he smoked Eranga for 15 in the last five balls to help India win the tri-series final or when he refused to take a single in the last over of the 2012 CB series encounter before smoking possibly the biggest six on an Australian ground or when he smoked Axar Patel for 26 in the 2016 IPL?

MS Dhoni was the ultimate climax king. He would keep the fans on the edge of their seat till the final moment. He would do everything to be there for the climax. Even if he declined a run in the final over but fans still believed that the unthinkable. He won some, he failed in others, but the thrill and drama was also constant.

Back in the 1990s, Indian fans used to shut their TV off after Sachin Tendulkar got dismissed. Dhoni made fans hang on to every moment when he strolled out to bat. Even when the score was 4-25 or 5-30, fans still believed that Dhoni would do the unthinkable! Isn’t that is his biggest legacy- that unflinching hope that he gave us every time he walked out to bat whether it was the 2011 World Cup final or the 2019 semis? Yes!

And, in the end, isn’t that all that matters?

Yash Mittal

Just a student of this beautiful game called cricket. Writer. Storyteller.