In 2005, Tendulkar nicks behind to Vaas in the first over in Jaipur, chasing 299. In walks Dhoni and spanks two sixes over cover to similar balls, marauding his way to an unbeaten 183 off 145 balls. The day he had shown the world, he had arrived. He does not know history. His mind is uncluttered. His will is the only thing that matters. He sees out the first 15 balls, and then gets down and dirty, regardless of the asking rate or the bowler. His technique is nowhere in sight of correct. His hitting borders on the reckless. In the tradition of conformity and propriety that was Indian cricket, he is an agent of blasphemy. But his blasphemy works.
This fearless young keeper is handed the reigns of a young side for a hit-and-giggle World Cup no one in India is taking seriously. Against Pakistan in the league stage, it comes to a tie. Almost no one has thought of this. Except for Dhoni, who makes his team practice bowl-outs from time to time. He ignores his pacers, and hands the ball to Uthappa and Sehwag. They had been the best in practice. Along with Harbhajan, they hit. And India has won. In the final, he entrusted little-known Joginder Sharma with 13 runs. And he wins. The old adage is perhaps true. Fortune does favour the brave.
Between the trophies and the finishes, it is perhaps his protective confidence he provided Indian cricket that is his most valuable contribution. Before him, India were stars and names. Under him, they became a team. His was the watch that changed the course of Indian cricket.
Such has been his way, The MAHI way: one of objectivity, keeping a game a game, all while conquering it.Years later, people might talk of him through his towering numbers as batsman and his numerous trophies as captain. What might be forgotten are the little things the skills no numbers can gauge, the feats no scorecard narrates. And I haven’t even begun on his stump mic commentary. Let us cherish him, he was, is and will be one of our finest and we shall never see his like again. Now he may rest. Now his watch has ended.
Thank you mahi for everything. You will always be our captain!