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Donning Dhoni

 

It is said that there is no rediscovery without risk, what you risk reveals what you value. This might very much be the creed that the peerless MS Dhoni lives by. He is the original exponent of the take it deep credo and in the process sheds the myriad layers of his genius only to unveil an entirely new one.

Consider this an explosive wicketkeeper bat to fearless captain to captain cool to finisher and now enabler. His phenomenal faculties facilitate the transformation according to the exigency and unfolds his brilliant capacity to understand and adapt. Cometh the hour cometh the man, takes on another dimension with cometh the need, changeth the man. His versatility is all the more remarkable as the team also embraces his transformation as it is precisely the need of the hour.

It were almost as if the master tactician were able to anticipate the emergence of a vacuum and seamlessly integrate into it. The sporting world has been replete with examples where sportsmen have remodeled their technique or worked on their skills to make a comeback but very few, nay none, have made role changes and in the manner that MS has done. From a swashbuckling wicketkeeper batsman with incredible bat speed and prodigious power the world witnessed his metamorphosis to a cool destroyer who could effortlessly switch gears to orchestrate a chase perfectly.

This change in approach coincided with his elevation as skipper of the Indian team. That he managed to do so with such incredible success is as much a tribute to his mental faculties as to his strength of belief and reveals what he values. This innovation is more the norm when the place in the side is threatened and the individual is compelled to revamp his style. That Dhoni made this change in his approach at a time when the world marveled at his skill at habitually orbiting the ball and battering opponents into submission makes his feat unequalled.

To take charge of a game by analyzing it on the move and taking it to the end with a tailender for company is a microprocessor at work not a battering ram, which his skills were compared to at the time. That such a decision is fraught with risk is a no-brainer as far as he is concerned.

After astutely renouncing red ball cricket in favour of the shorter version of the game and later relinquishing captaincy altogether MS still managed to stay relevant and how. His experience in shepherding the team for all the years helped him forethink exactly how the shortcomings would play themselves out in course of time. The big hitting ability might have diminished with the years but viewers still have the opportunity to savour the razor sharp reflexes and breathtaking skills behind the stumps which he harnessed through the years to create aspects of value. His match reading skills still allow him the ability to identify the man who he could enable to get the job done in the most efficient way possible (read Kedar Jadhav, Ambati Rayudu, Chahal, Kuldeep et al.) and play the role of an enabler to perfection.

His association with captain Kohli is itself a tribute to all he stands for as the captain acknowledges his tactical genius and also is dismissive of the odd batting failure or two saying that his performance cannot be evaluated from such a limited perspective. Cricketing superstars till date have for all their achievements been slightly disinclined to take the final walk towards the pavilion, not so Dhoni. He retired from tests when he could still have retained his place conveniently, though possibly not as captain. His skills have been strongly endorsed by no less the captain and coach when largely popular opinion seemed to be divided on his inclusion in the team. Amazingly public and expert opinion has slowly veered around to the view that his place in the team is not subject to debate and this through sheer performance that gradually turned the sentiment towards him. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest readers/tacticians of the game, and this should be reason enough to assume that an inflated ego would be the last thing to influence his judgment to call it a day.

 

Article by :Shantanu Sharma

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