MS Dhoni: High leadership, gentle exit

There is surely a pattern to the way Dhoni times his ‘I-take-your-leave’ moves — steeped in secrecy and dished out with dollops of surprise.

Captain with the Midas Touch; Batsman with marauding muscle; Wicket-keeper with sharp reflexes and safe palms -- Dhoni has been a complete package in ODIs and Twenty20Is.   -  AP

M. S. Dhoni’s self-imposed exits from the supposedly second-hottest seat in India — captaincy of the nation’s cricket teams — just a notch below the Prime Minister’s, are often couched in drab statements issued through a BCCI press release. But, if those utterances can be measured on the Richter Scale, it would clock a huge number. Such is the dramatic impact!

READ: >M. S. Dhoni steps down as India's ODI, T20I captain

Exactly at 8.55 p.m. on a Wednesday night (January 4, 2017), the BCCI issued a press release and the world got to know that India’s greatest limited-overs skipper had decided to relinquish his captaincy.

Typical of the man, who believes in making bold statements with the bat and other cricketing deeds on the turf, but would rather stay mum off the field — his stepping down from the leadership role was disseminated into the information highway by the BCCI.

Through the press release, the Board stated: “Mahendra Singh Dhoni has informed the BCCI that he wishes to step down as the captain of the Indian Cricket Team from the One-Day Internationals and the T20 Internationals formats of the game. He will be available for selection for the Paytm One-Day Trophy and Paytm T20I Trophy against England and the same has been conveyed to the Senior Selection Committee.”

The BCCI CEO, Rahul Johri, added: “On behalf of every Indian cricket fan and the BCCI, I would like to thank M. S. Dhoni for his outstanding contribution as the captain of the Indian team across all formats. Under his leadership, the Indian team has touched new heights and his achievements will remain etched forever in the annals of Indian cricket.”

READ: >Sachin leads sporting fraternity's wishes for Dhoni

There is surely a pattern to the way Dhoni times his ‘I-take-your-leave’ moves — steeped in secrecy and dished out with dollops of surprise. In December 2014, he retired from Tests after the Melbourne game against Australia. A post-match press conference, in which he fronted up to the media in his regular ‘captain’ avatar, was followed by a press release stating that he had retired from the game’s longest format. Talk about shock-and-awe! Be it slamming helicopter sixes or bidding adieu, Dhoni surely springs to the mind.

His has been a remarkable story that has the extra stardust of a biopic that had made more than 100 crores at the box-office. Dhoni led India to its maiden and only (until now) World Twenty20 title triumph in South Africa in 2007. Later in 2011, he anchored a brilliant run-chase against Sri Lanka and helped his side clinch the World Cup in Mumbai. In 2013, he and his men seized the ICC Champions Trophy in England. The cup of joy had truly brimmed.

More than those epochal victories and the numbers he etched — leading India in a record 199 ODIs (winning 110 and losing 74) and piloting the squad in 72 Twenty20 Internationals (41, 28) — what remains is the self-belief and confidence that he inculcated into the Men in Blue.

Until his leadership acumen came into display, the Indians were resigned to get nostalgic only about the 1983 World Cup win engineered by Kapil Dev’s men. Now we have 2007 and 2011 also in our list of limited-overs peaks.

Captain with the Midas Touch; Batsman with marauding muscle; Wicketkeeper with sharp reflexes and safe palms — Dhoni has been a complete package in ODIs and Twenty20Is.

The good news is that he is still available as a player in the blue-shade and Virat Kohli can surely look to his predecessor for leadership inputs. In the future another BCCI press release might break the news about his retirement as an ODI player. Until then it is time to celebrate a truly unique cricketer.