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Saturday, August 15, 2020

MSD's retirement announcement shocks Cricketing World !!

I distinctly remember watching this match at Kenya on Aug 19,2004 – India A led by Sairaj Bahutule beat Pak A led by Misbah Ul Haq ..  .. saw a young wicketkeeper score some big hits – searched to find he was Mahendra Singh Dhoni – little did I realize that he would go on to make it really huge and make Cricket fans plunge into melancholy, this day, for he has announced his retirement.  

Before we read eulogies to that great Cricketer described ‘Captain Cool’ – couple of Qs – can you name at least 15 of the 24 wicketkeepers who have represented India in One dayers ? and do you know why of the 350 ODIs that he played, MSd would remember that match against West Indies at Johannesburg on 30.9.2009

The crowds love him and have turned up in large nos. to see him in action.  MSD has been always is in the thick of action ~ in the 40th over of SA innings, he stumped  Phehlukwayo  with ease bringing delight to be bowler Yuzvendra Chahal. It was a happy sight for all of us seeing the stumping again and again on TV but not for a Paki Minister !!!  ~   cleaning Rassie van der Dussen  The stumping of Phehlukwayo . .. .. is in news !  as people spotted MSD spotting an insignia in his gloves ~ not any ordinary one but the ‘Balidan badge’ ! 

There was a time when more than 10000 turned up at Chepauk to see CSK practice as MSD was in town and had come for practice ! .. .. only today, we read statement of  Batting coach of the Chennai Super Kings, Michael Hussey  who felt  MS Dhoni will be best suited to bat at No. 4 for CSK in the IPL 2020. Dhoni, who will return to cricket for the first time since July last year, has got fans excited an intrigued to see him back in action. CSK will leave for the UAE on August 20, and Hussey has revealed how the team is playing attention on its preparation, but even though the former batsman stressed on the importance of being flexible in the middle order, he reckons CSK can benefit more if Dhoni bats slightly higher.

Do you still remember that Group D match in -  ICC World Twenty20 at Durban, played on Sep 14 2007  !  ~ if not for the date or otherwise, for the result and more so, for the manner perhaps !! – Super Over and Dhoni’s ingenuity in asking Harbhajan, Sehwag and Uthappa to bowl and standing close to the stumps did the trick beating Pak 3-0. 

On 2nd Apr 2011, it was close to 11 pm and perhaps the entire India was awake.  There were sounds of crackers, people shouting in happiness as Dhoni received the trophy – the ICC World Cup was lifted – icons were getting lifted – the stadium bustled and spectacular fire works were on.   The cricket capital of India reverberated and the capacity crowd witnessed a great match at Wankhede.  , established in 1974.  The curator of the pitch was Sudhir Naik, who represented India decades back without great success.  

When we were expecting R Ashwin, in the place of injured Ashish Nehra, it was Sreesanth who had  a poor 5 over spell against Bangla in the opening game.  Lankans made sweeping changes – Angelo Mathews, Rangana Herath, Chamara Silve and Ajanta Mendis were out – in came – Perera, Randiv, Kulasekara and Chamara Kapugedera.   Immediately after lunch, at around 0650 pm – a hush descended at Wankhede.   The first ball of the seventh over silenced the Nation.  The noise Wankhede went in to a huddle.  The ball moved got the outside of Sachin and thudded into the gloves of Sanga. At that point 31/2, not many were optimistic of India.  Virat Kohli played well with Gambhir but departed at 114 @ 21.4; still a long way to go.  A very well phased innings by Gambhir, who unfortunately missed his century and his century partnership with Dhoni who had promoted himself  enabled Indians pull off a great win.  Dhoni wrapped it in style with 10 balls to go, he sent the ball flying over long on for a huge six.

Here is the list of Wicket-keepers, who have played for India :  Farokh Engineer, Syed Kirmani, Pochiah Krishnamurthy, Bharath Reddy, Surinder Khanna, Kiran More, Sadanand Viswanath, Chandrakant Pandit, Vijay Yadav, Nayan Mongia, Syed Saba Karim,  MSK Prasad, Rahul Dravid, Sameer Dighe, Vijay Dahiya, Deep Dasgupta, Ajay Ratra, Parthiv Patel, Dinesh Karthik, the King Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Wriddhiman Saha, Robin Uthappa, Rishabh Pant & KL Rahul

Mahendra Singh Dhoni's ascent to dizzying heights put a small city like Ranchi inadvertently on the cricket map. From the eastern state of Jharkhand, MSD rose to become the heart-throb of the city.  On Sunday evening (17.3.2019), ahead of a CSK practice match at the M. A. Chidambaram Stadium, the serpentine queues outside the main entrance could have easily been mistaken for an eager audience ramping up to an international match.  They had come to see MSD !

Former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Saturday announced retirement from international cricket.  Even Pope retires; but in India where retirement is compulsory for all office goers, there is none for politicians…. In the 9th  Lok Sabha elections, there was this gentleman (Mr MG Ranga)  who at the ripe age of 89 was contesting the elections and actually won by a handsome margin too….  

Dhoni has not played since India's semifinal exit from the ODI World Cup last year in July and his comeback is a highly anticipated sub-plot of this year's IPL, which starts on Sept 19.  BUT  Corona which has marred IPL and pushed back the T20 WC perhaps has put a fullstop to the hero’s planned comeback !  

The 39-year-old batsman-wicketkeeper is the only captain in the history of cricket to win all ICC trophies. Under his captaincy, India won the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, the 2010 and 2016 Asia Cups, the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy.  One of the best runners between the wickets was run out following a hard-earned 50 in that tense game, shattering Indian hopes and leaving him in a state of disbelief. The reticent man from Ranchi will, however, go down as one of the finest to have played the game for India, turning up for the country in a whopping 350 ODIs, 90 Tests and 98 T20 Internationals.

He signs off as  ODI legend with 10,773 runs, averaging more than 50 despite batting between No.5 and 7 for a major chunk of his career. In the Test format, Dhoni accumulated 4876 runs at an average of 38.09 and led India to more wins (27) than anyone else before him.  Runs would never be the best parameter for judging his Cricketing genius and his contribution to Indian Cricket – he was a master strategist, capable of inspiring ordinary players, great runner between the wickets, stylist behind the wicket, wondrous reader of match situations, best capable judge in UDRS, jaw-drooping hand-speed style in collecting and running batsmen out ! – he had the Cricketing World mesmerized and now signs off when perhaps none imagined that it would come today. 

His 78/229/52 sixers in Tests / ODI / T20I; 6 test Centuries and 10 in One dayers all has carved out a niche place for him in Indian Cricket history.  In case you remember that Q on 12th ICC match at Johannesburg – he took his only wicket in One dayer when a West Indies batsman by name - Travis Montague Dowlin was clean bowled !


The Cricketing World will miss you MSD


With regards – S. Sampathkumar


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