MS Dhoni-Captain, Leader, Legend!

Late last night, pretty much every Indian who follows cricket as a religion came in for a rude shock. MS Dhoni, Indian ODI & T20 team captain had decided to stand down as skipper in both formats and continue just as a player.

Dhoni is without an iota of doubt the very best ODI & T20 captain for India. Infact, he was the person who had brought in the dynamism in fielding & running between wickets into the Indian cricket team. If ever there was someone better than Michael Bevan and deserved the finisher tag more than him, it was MS Dhoni for all his last over exploits. Dhoni gave us many such memorable moments, ill mention my favorite 5 which are etched in memory;

1.India v Pakistan, 2007 ICC World T20 Final

Image result for 2007 t20 wc final dhoni reactions

I precisely remember where I was during this game. At my aunt’s place, watching the game with my brother. I remember my uncle calling to ask for a score update and I was on the phone updating him regularly. Last over, 13 needed, and he threw the ball to Joginder Sharma. First reaction, is he mad? After the 6 off the 2nd ball, we all but lost hope. My uncle was still on the line and I am giving him running commentary. 6 needed from 4 balls, 1 wicket to get. Sharma bowls, Misbah goes for a paddle scoop, I tell my uncle, it’s a six(on first impression of the shot), then it dawns. No, it’s a catch.(honestly, Sreesanth always looked like dropping it until he caught it!). I am shouting and jumping at the same time while still being on the phone. India win and thus dawned the era which a few years down the line we will call the Dhoni era.

2. India v Sri Lanka, 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup Final

Yet another World Cup, yet another game I remember where I was and what I was doing. Friends gathered at my place watching the final. Sri Lanka amass 275 owing to a classy century from Mahela and India start in rocky fashion losing big guns Sehwag and Sachin for just 25 runs. Harrowing memories of South Africa 2003 return. Gambhir steadies the ship with his 97(for me, the deserving MOM). Dhoni promotes himself and partners Gambhir to consolidate and bring it close. Dhoni scores 91*(78) and the final 6 to seal the deal will be an image that no Indian watching would be able to forget in their lifetime.

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Ravi Shatsri’s words still echoes in my ears:

Dhoniiiiiiiiiiii finishes off in style. A magnificent strike into the crowd! India lift the World Cup after 28 years, the party starts in the dressing room and its an Indian captain who’s been absolutely magnificent in the night of the final

Here is something from my archive reminiscing that fateful day; ON TOP OF THE WORLD!

3. England tour of India 2006, 6th ODI

This was the early years of Dhoni the captain in the making. Dhoni actually opened the innings with Sehwag and went on to score 96. This is the innings that I consider ranks highly than any other century he has gotten. The pitch was a seaming track and the Indians were falling like 9 pins. Dhoni with Ramesh Powar for company compiled a well crafted 96. It was disappointing to see him not get that 100 and India lost the match too, but then his innings had really made an impact on me and hence I remember it fondly.

4. India v Sri Lanka, 2013 West Indies Tri-Nation Series Final

One of the matches that brought about the class of Dhoni the finisher. India chasing a meager 201 to win the Tri-Series lost the 9th wicket in the 47th over with Dhoni still at the crease. The target went from 19 off 18 balls to 15 off the last over. He sure loves those last over finishes. Eranga was given the big responsibility. The pitch was not helping the batsmen,so this was Sri Lanka’s game to lose. But, Dhoni had other ideas. 0,6,4,6. Cool as they come. Another trophy in the kitty. They don’t call him captain cool for nothing!

5. KXIP v CSK, IPL 2010

Whatever happens, Dhoni will fondly be remembered forever as captain of CSK. This one from the archive is one of the favorites of every CSK fan. Typical Dhoni territory. 16 needed off 6 balls to qualify for the semi finals. What does Dhoni do? Decimate the bowling off course. And this is even more famous for his ‘helmet punch’ after hitting the winning six. This was a rare show of emotion by Dhoni on the cricket field and surprised many.

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But, Dhoni the test captain was a bit of an enigma. In tests, he was mostly resigned to the fact that the fast bowlers were ‘not fast enough’ or are always injured when more is needed from them. He let the games drift(especially abroad) whenever there was a chance to tighten the noose. Cue cut to England in 2011, India took a meager lead in the first innings of the 2nd test and had 2 quick scalps in the second innings, enter Ian Bell, and the game was gone. The game was infamous for the ‘recall of Ian bell after her was run out‘ incident. Then, New Zealand in 2014, yet another 2nd test and NZ were all but out of the game with half the NZ side back in the hutch for less than a 100, when India let them back in the game after a swashbuckling triple ton from Baz and centuries by Watling & Neesham. In the spinning pitches of India, Dhoni was a master and marshaled his resources like a king, but when there was less on offer for spin abroad, Dhoni was always found wanting and was at best a defensive captain.

Overall, 2016 was a decent year for Captain Dhoni, but, the pressure on batsman Dhoni was mounting to no end. His mantra of taking it to the final over began to work less, bowlers had become more skillful and wily while operating to Dhoni and Dhoni was at the receiving end of the pressure quite lately. Dhoni has always been a selfless statesman, be it his retirement from test cricket or the announcement that he is standing down as skipper from the shorter formats and with this announcement, I feel that the 2017 Champions trophy will be his swansong.

or does he still see himself playing the 2019 World cup?

Only time will tell!

Image courtesy: Google; Header Courtesy: ©Getty Images and Cricket Australia

AN OPEN LETTER TO TEAM INDIA IN ENGLAND

Time for Introspection

Dear Team INDIA,

I take the liberty to draft this letter on the behalf of millions of cricket fans across the globe.

First of all, let me begin by telling you that this is by far the worst experience for me as an ardent fan of your team. Ever since i started watching cricket way back in early 1990’s, never have i felt so apathetic & heart breaking while supporting my team on a tour.

Yes, i agree we are a demanding lot. But, that is because of you TEAM INDIA. You had made us accustomed to winning. It was OK if it was only winning, but you made us proud by showing us that you had the intensity and audacity to not go down without a fight. That is the TEAM INDIA we wanted to see.

You won us the WORLD CUP, no we haven’t forgotten that and will never forget that ever in our lives. You earned the title of #1 Test team in the world. We were a happy lot you know. But, these past 3 weeks gave us our reality check. Oh, yes it did!

These three weeks were most harrowing times for any fan, leave alone me. Although after each failure of yours, I tell myself not to follow the remaining matches anymore. I know from the inside, me and the millions of fans were watching each and every ball. That’s how we are.

We expected you to fight. We never even saw a glimpse of that in this series. Yes, there were exceptions. RAHUL DRAVID! We seriously do not know how much more humiliating it would have been to see the team go down without his 3 fighting and quality centuries. Each when the team needed them and each which gave us hope that there was at least  someone willing to put up a fight. RESPECT!!!

There were glimpses of fight in the final test match. Although we lost, you have raised our hopes again. Though the #1 test team tag is lost along with this series (and ENGLAND in every sense were the BETTER team in all departments), we still have our hopes high on you. We will consider this a blemish.

In the weeks proceeding this series, we will ponder on the future, we will back you during these hard times. Yes, after all you are still our beloved team.

Signing off, hoping the good old days of not going down without a fight is just round the corner.

Your’s faithfully,

An Ardent Fan

 

What A Match!!!

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Pictures Courtesy © Getty Images

India Vs Australia, 5th ODI, Rajiv Gandhi Stadium, Hydrabad. Australia had posted 350 in their assigned 50 overs with all players contributing with a ton from Shaun Marsh & 93 from Shane Watson. At that time i thought to myself that it would be a SEHWAG day as he was long overdue, but what followed was the best 3 hours in my life. A godly innings from a godly man. SACHIN RAMESH TENDULKAR. It all started slow an then the batsmen raised the tempo a bit and just when it all looked a bit easier aussies dismissed Sehwag. Oh! i thought it would be tough and it was looking that way when we were 140 odd for 4 , but Sachin was still batting though. And what followed later was HISTORY. I mean i have never seen someone play with that much grit & determination. Sachin is a class apart. Sublime strokes,aggressive batting,motivating the others,classic batting. He was playing as he was 25. As Raina chipped in, Indians were close,very very close. With Raina out it all looked a bit out of control and then Bhajji’s wicket added to the pressure. I was biting away my nails as if it were chips. Will they or will not? And then the big blow…Sachin dismissed.Period. everyone thought. But Praveen Kumar pulled things back with a 6 but it was all too late. India lost eventually by 3 runs & more than half the team total was scored by SACHIN. That tells a story. A story of a Legend. I feel privileged to have witnessed one such innings in my life. It was more Sachin Vs Australia than India Vs Australia. Such was the way he played. A day when even cricket would be proud that Sachin played it!!! A day that will go in the history books as a win by Australia but Sachin was the real winner, a winner of more than a billion hearts all over the world!!!

The match can be summed up as TEN-DO-LITTLES + WON-DULKAR = INDIA. Just simple math that even a child would know. I felt for the first time why 10 others were even playing cricket. It was a Shame we didnt win after all what Sachin did and all came back to say Sachin didn’t finish it off. All of u who say so Get a Life!!!On a signing note i would like to add that even if someone els had chipped in with a little cameo like Raina did Team India could have GIFTED this game to the Little Master. After all Cricket is a TEAM game!!!

Good Night & Cheers 🙂

DADAGIRI-A FIRE WITHIN

“The Prince Of Kolkata” as he is fondly called by all his fans Saurav Chandidas Ganguly surprised everyone last week by calling it time to quit. He declared that the Australian series would be his last. Even if this is his last series he will always be fondly remembered. Who can forget a cricketer who had passion,fight,aggression and desire both on and off the field. Named the King Of Comebacks, he is surely one man i would always associate with the word COMEBACK. Thrown out the Indian Cricket team after a spat with the then team coach Greg Chappell, he showed resilience and patience(i can never forget the PEPSI ad which featured him just before the world cup) and after 16 long months proved all his critics wrong once again!

The video ad by PEPSI featuring DADA:

He is one of the finest or should i say “THE BEST” captain India had ever produced. He captained India for a record 49 matches and led them to victory 21 times which is yet another record. Of these 21 victories 11 came in foreign soil which in itself is a special distinction for any captain. He captained India to almost the pinnacle of glory in the 2003 WC. How can anyone forget the “Payback” incident. Here are pictures and an extract from a local daily that stresses the importance of that act.

The Payback

The Payback

If you ever wonder who provoked this reaction, this picture will answer all your queries.

The Incident that deserved the "Payback"

The Incident that deserved the Payback

Which captain would give an eye for an eye, i can’t name many since there are really few of them and Ganguly would top that list. If it wasn’t for him the present Indian captains won’t be half as aggressive as they are now. Such was the impact of Saurav Ganguly.

He was insulted again and again by the Indian Cricket Board, was dropped on numerous occasions accusing him of the most dubious of things, but still it was always dada who bought glories to Indian cricket everytime. History repeated itself many a time when he was at the helm of his career and captaincy. If ever there was a “Maverick” in the Indian cricket team, worthy of our respect for exactly those qualities, then it had to be Saurav Ganguly.

This is the story of a Phoenix who emerged from the ashes. Once it was almost declared that his career is was over but he was back in the team. He made a comeback yet again and repeated the history of his own comeback in 1996 after being dropped in 1992. He surely is the king of all comebacks. His comeback is an inspiration not only to his fans but also to his critics.

DADA-A FIRE THAT BURNS FOREVER IN THE HEARTS OF MANY!!!

WE WILL MISS U DADA…