[dropcap]I[/dropcap]Is there a method to carelessness or a logic in stupidity, a reason behind irrational thinking? Is there a foolish in a genius? No. Or wait… is it yes! What is it to read minds? How is to analyze concluded answers which overtly carry many unanswered questions? We millions of sports fans pretend to carry a divine ability of reading minds of sporting heroes. We boost our opinions as if they were the last. We praise and criticize at times to the extent of our own embarrassment. We didn’t care to touch the extreme sides of eulogy and condemnation as millions of us were lured into such debates by the lone personality of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Be it anything Dhoni cared little of what we spoke of him. To care, did he ever listen? At least he pretended not to, if I have to assume so. But what is Mahendra Singh Dhoni? It will continue to remain a mystery as the lost MH370 unless one day he comes out to explains us, of what he is, which I hope one day he will.
When Kumble handed over the captaincy to MS in 2008, he embraced it as if he possessed it. Under him and Garry victories followed and soon India became the world’s top test nation. It was by and large Dhoni’s golden period in whites. India drew in Lanka and South Africa and won in West Indies and New Zealand apart from the home victories. The glitter and glory of the gold slowly started to abrase after India’s tour of England in 2011. It was the end of the eulogy and the start of condemnation both as a captain and as a batsman. When praises were heaped on him he remained in the shadows, he didn’t come out and owned any credit for it. We didn’t care too. But once India started to lose and his tactics overseas looked dubious, criticism flowed. He didn’t care. We felt offended. He was labeled arrogant. He was, in his own right though. He explained when questioned, answered when he chose to. Not many were convinced and it didn’t deter him, or it seemed so. The unanswered questions left us fuming, but Dhoni walked past us with little sympathy. It seemed he displayed an attitude of arrogance. Was it not? It might be. Was it wrong? We never know. He was doing his job in the best possible way he knew to do. He was never going to captain the side how we wanted him to. He can’t be loathed for that. At the end of the day, he captained India and not we.
He was criticized for being defensive overseas and rightly so. It was evident that he didn’t take risks as one would have expected him to. He was conventional when need was to be unconventional and the vice verse. For a common man, some of his tactics were hard to comprehend let alone agree. On a seamer-friendly track out of nowhere Rohit Sharma bowled his off spinners at Auckland, at Lords, Ishant Sharma who had just bowled a fiery spell before lunch was not to be seen after the 40’min break, at Johannesburg he refused to take the new ball for 50 odd overs on 5th day, at Dominica he didn’t promote himself to chase a target which seemed under India’s reach and instead settled for a draw, at Gabba he continued to bounce Johnson though it leaked decisive runs. He lived by the sword and died by it or did he? Did the losses affect him? Was he practical when he kept on saying that it was the process which mattered to him and not the result, or was he denying to look into the problems at disposal? [pullquote-left] “We are trying. It is not like making food where you say, okay, salt is missing, that is why it is not good. Where we are lacking, that is a difficult one to answer.” [/pullquote-left] “We are trying. It is not like making food where you say, okay, salt is missing, that is why it is not good. Where we are lacking, that is a difficult one to answer.” He said after the loss to New Zealand at Basin reserves. Loss after loss did we get the feeling that his interest in bringing test victories overseas had waned down or is it too harsh to say so. Once again, I’m perplexed if I do say so will he ever bother to listen! Such is his persona or that is what he has shown us of what he is.
Was it his dream to captain the Indian test team? Was there not a sense of accomplishment in the end when he walked with the wicket in his hands at MCG after securing the draw? Only Dhoni can answer that. Didn’t he need to call a press conference to bid adieu? Was it anger or disrespect to any? No. He decided to go by his way and he had every right to and it was not an embarrassment as some have made out it to be. He must surely be knowing of what he is doing here more than when he places a leg slip to a fast bowler or a floating slip to an off-spinner. If he had decided to quit, then to quit before the last test is the best decision he has taken so that Kohli can go about his business from next test itself. Why waste one important overseas test when you are sure that you are not going to be part of future test team. Is it not a glorious sacrifice that has to be applauded rather than criticized?
He came, he won, he lost, he left. No emotions, no tears, no smiles. He didn’t even come to us to say he is leaving. So what? Had he come or had he not come, people who love him will continue to love, people who loathe him will continue to loathe, people who admire him will continue to admire. He knows how to play his cards and he knows where his heart is. He may wear a smile looking back at his journey, he may have a tear or two, he may well laugh at us or he may well not bother to look back!
If he ever wore a mask, he has covered himself so well that we never managed to peep at him, if he never wore a mask, he has portrayed himself so naturally that one can only ever dream of being so true and simple. The more we try to solve the ‘Dhoni mystery’ the more will we confuse ourselves and the less we try to convince ourselves the more we will be able to enjoy his personality.
There is still one chapter remaining in his cricketing story and once it gets over I hope one day he will summarize the entire book of which we have very little understood. We may have lost the right to question by then, but he may choose to answer us. Not out of sympathy but out of love.