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Mahi: The Miracle Worker

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Happy Birthday MS Dhoni 7th JulyIs remaining calm and silent actually a sign of strength or could it be that it is irreverence and disinterest seen in another light? Ever wondered what is more interesting- occurrence of an important event or the rarity of its occurrence? Is an unconventional approach to leadership a smasher on the face of defensive technique or is a new game changer of sorts? Our world is full of amusing questions and equally appealing does it become when we attach these questions to a personality in an attempt to seek answers.  Puzzle it may all seem but when we throw a dart of these questions toward the jigsaw, the puzzle more often than not, in the context of cricket, forms a familiar face. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Mahi for cricket lovers, captain cool for those who adore him, and a nemesis of those who take him lightly.

While researchers are still finding an answer to the rare occurrence of Haley’s comet without a convincing result to this day, the appearance of a rear talent like Dhoni in cricket, is no less than the appearance of Haley’s comet itself. Versatile in unique proportions, here is a thinking cricketer who is a natural leader, a genuine match winner, a tornado with the cricket bat in the hand, an iron man behind the stumps, a person one who never asserts himself nor ever escapes both from his teammates and his colleagues’ minds when in a duel and a man with a supremely calm head on his shoulders. In short, he is every bit a player you either want in your side or want to evade an encounter with.

With Dhoni’s ever growing legend and domination over everything right from – breaking grounds of convention, associating with leading brands in the limelight, topping world records on the pitch, holding centre stage of discussions when off it, the new brand ambassador for the word ‘leader’, and a new found voice for young India, you just can’t end up on the losing pitch with Dhoni on your side. Not even a decade old in the game, and there is already a long list of milestones that the smiling assassin has gathered in a game that he once hailed as his second love, after soccer. We are glad that he chose otherwise, as without him opting for cricket, the exciting new era of Indian dominance in the English invented sport would have looked not just dull and imaginary but simply devoid of its upsurge without its prime force. For someone who is not much into the habit of eating almonds, the scenario suggests an urgency to remember the sheer number of records that stand in the pink of health against Mahi’s name.

A highest score of 148 versus Pakistan in tests and an unbeaten 183 in a one dayer against Sri Lanka, which is the highest knock by Indian wicketkeeper batsman ever and also the highest second inning score in ODI innings, both of Dhoni’s hundreds were suggestive of a common element- effortless power hitting. His debut test century came in an ODI fashion, with the ace keeper scoring his fifty of just 34 balls and ultimately his hundred of 93 balls, one of the fastest century knocks in tests ever. The one day batting average above 51 is the best ever by an Indian wicketkeeper batsman. The fast running between the wickets suggests a sense of urgency, the dominant backhand strokeplay rubs on the best bowler’s his raw power, and the ability to score quickly and decimate any attack make him a tough cookie. You can take Dhoni easily at your own peril. There may be draught of runs in one of those rare losses of form , but when will the form reappear and in what mighty fashion, is as nicely concealed to the opposition as sometimes his own awareness of it. Watchers of 2011 world cup final against the Lankans were in for the shock of their lives as Mahendra Singh Dhoni scripted a new legend of Indian cricket with a magical 91, an inning that was known just as much for its sudden occurrence as for its total domination over the hapless bowlers the Lankans wrestled and Indians toyed with. Dhoni chose the very last game for showcasing his lost form and rose back with pomp, delivering India its new found glory, the sublime taste of which was tasted decades back.

A combined figure from both versions suggest of Dhoni’s ace wicket keeping abilities with close to 100 stumpings and 385 catches, some of which were taken plunging into the air like a puma and some dismantling the furniture of the batsman’s at a cheetah’s speed . The situation may favour India or may treat us like minnows, but Dhoni’s thin eyed glance of concentration from behind the stumps spares none for inside the calculative brain of the planner cum disruptor in chief, there may be an intense creation of a plan, one when uprooted from behind the dimpled smiled face, shall prove to be the final nail in coffin for the opposition. Perhaps, no one apart from the lad from Ranchi can prove and explain how to fight and keep fighting against the wind without a care for the outcome. In a team that once weighed more on the star power scale than on the performance meter despite the presence of legends like Tendulkar, Kumble, Ganguly and Dravid, it is the Iceman who turned the corner for India as far as winning overseas and winning domestically at a consistent rate is concerned. If an aggressive Ganguly nurtured the side and a stable Dravid gave it a steady ride for a while, it was Dhoni under whose tutelage, Indian cricket has risen strength to strength.

The mantle of captaincy is such that it can either wear one down completely or can phase out the performer from a player within seconds of the donning of its prestigious hat but for some reason, Mahi’s effervescence was conveyed best as the ultimate leader’s role for the team. Defeating Lara’s Windies in 2006 in the Caribbean and beating Pakistan repeatedly in the ODI encounters at home, if Dhoni was delivering steadily until now, he struck gold when under his captaincy of a young brigade of talented performers, India picked up the Twenty -20 world cup in 2007. The long locks flowed with pride and in an unabashed fashion. The time, the support and the legend of Mahendra Singh Dhoni- all seemed to be on a permanent flight to scale to the highest summits of Cricket.

Leading isn’t just about leading from the front by setting an example, it is about churning excellence consistently. Who would want to caution Tendulkar on his timing if he doesn’t get it right? How would you advice the butcher of Najargarh if the whirring blade isn’t actually delivering? And what advice can you give Zak the speedster if the Yorkers seem to be out of sight? But Dhoni the captain has secured faith and adulation not just from the crazy fans lining up outside his home to the present day and inside the stadiums, but also from the gold mine of talent within the team, whom he has cautiously and devotedly kept together and continued to motivate to unprecedented heights. Series after series & challenge after challenge, there have been downs but the up’s under Dhoni’s reign have been more rewarding than any other captain previously at the helm of affairs.

Pressure – a term known more for the sorrows it makes its keeper reap than for its direct contribution towards its pupil’s achievement, has suffered from a sense of outright dejection from Caption cool Mahendra Singh Dhoni. For some reason, apart from the bright blue colours of his team or the calm pure white’s you can’t ever spot Dhoni wearing pressure out there on the pitch. His mere being around spells such effective breath of ease, that from yards down the pitch you can sense a surreal state of calm. The atmosphere in the home team rises to upstage the opposition. A ladies man, he is popular amongst youngsters, kids seem to adore him and his meteoric success story resonates with aspiring sport stars from around the nation. A performer you can expect literally miracles from, a motivator to the oppressed and a dynamic leader who doesn’t shy from taking risks, batting seems to be a brittle art to the bowlers who he is out there to destruct and keeping wickets is as much about timing and technique as its exhibition ahead of the wickets when speaking of Mahi.

Steven Waugh stood for grit while a sense of gentlemanly demeanour was associated with Stephen Fleming. Aggression and undeterred confidence seems to remind us of Dada while one thinks of an all round attacking strategy when thinking of Graeme Smith. But with Ice Cool leader Dhoni, it seems in the land of magic, new miracles are about to be unleashed from the 22 yards, the ones that leave cricket lovers in awe and its practitioner – swinging sublime magic all the way into record books sealing his name in gold.



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