The role of Dhoni in the IPl 3 has been questioned, debated and discussed. But he proves why he's the one!
What more can Mahendra Singh Dhoni do? He's eased into the game's three different formats, as batsman, wicketkeeper-batsman, batsman-wicketkeeper, skipper-in-waiting and then skipper; he's adapted well to the demands of being the surrogate icon player of the Chennai Super Kings, being both the approachable, appealing local and the superstar outsider; and he's clobbered two ridiculously powerful sixes to give his team a spot in the semi-finals, ensuring just the right amount of drama.
It's not that Dhoni can do no wrong. But the skipper errs just enough to allow a comeback, a fight, a spectacle to surface. He's a team's go-to man, but doesn't give much away about what it takes to deliver match after match, day after day, as batsman, wicketkeeper, skipper, posterboy, super-athlete, TV icon, post-match spokesperson and a lot more.
After the IPL, Dhoni will look to regain a title India won in 2007, a win that ushered in the IPL and the new golden era of sponsored advertisements; and, one can't put it past the skipper to bring the title back home. So, what makes Dhoni click, even when he doesn't? Is just being Dhoni enough? Sometimes it just is. His calming, stabilising presence has a huge influence in the team and in Indian cricket. He speaks in a monotone, is frank when least expected, looks in control, yet appears dispassionate. Essentially, Dhoni is still something of an enigma, a carefully preserved one.
Chennai all-rounder Albie Morkel praised his skipper for his stability. “Dhoni is very relaxed… He is calm and quiet. He can treat the juniors as grown-ups and that's a sign of maturity. He has all the signs of a good captain. I have never seen him shouting at the youngsters. If he is upset, he goes to the coach and speaks,” he said.
Dhoni's patience was tested during the IPL season, with the Super Kings' patchy show. The bowling appeared thin and the batting inconsistent. Dhoni had been criticised, particularly because his multiple-utility leaves him more open to flak. His captaincy and his batting were questioned, but somehow, his side kept itself afloat. Against Kings XI Punjab, Chennai needed to win. The bowling fell short, and the batting very nearly did, until the skipper's clinical, brutal attack at the end.
In many ways, it was fitting that Dhoni hit the winning runs, and allowed himself a reaction. He isn't just the face of the team, or its leader. He is so much more.