Rama Krishna Sangem
If there is one striking feature of IPL’s 16th edition that concluded yesterday, May 29, Monday, it is the full display of phenomenal leadership of Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Swimming against currents, he successfully led his Chennai Super Kings (CKS) team to wrest the IPL title for 2023, 5th one so far. Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad reverberated with “Dhoni, Dhoni” screams, telling us his super star status of in cricket.
That the world’s largest cricket stadium in Ahmedabad is filled with fans cheering for Dhoni, even as local Gujarat Titans lost the final match signifies the eminent status of the former captain of Indian cricket. Tonnes of articles are already written about Dhoni’s Mr Cool nature and his stable leadership qualities even in adverse conditions. This 16th edition of IPL offered us yet another opportunity to know more about him, and his leadership.
Why Dhoni is special?
Many may have written off this 41 year (he will turn on July 7) sometime ago as an active player on the ground in a T-20 match, but he proved all wrong. Many have derided his CSK as a Daddies team, as most are above the average age players. Still Dhoni believed in them all. For this wicket-keeper-batsman-turned captain, no one is insignificant, unless used properly. And, he knows how to use them – how and where.
Take for instance, the way Dhoni groomed Ruturaj Gaikwad or Shivam Dube. Or how he trusted Ambati Tirupati Rayudu or Matheesha Pathirana, we can understand how a captain can do wonders with ordinary or inconsistent team members. You need not lead a team of 11 efficient players to be the best captain. One can be a great leader even with a bunch of players, if their leader knows how to equip them in a proper ecosystem. Dhoni is that leader.
Once hailed as “Runs Machine of Ranchi,” this ace cricketer has become a symbol of aspirational India, not overnight, but over a long period, from mid 2004 to mid 2017. He captained India in limited overs from 2007 to 2017 and test cricket from 2008 to 2014. This 5 feet 9 inches born leader captained Indian cricket to win 2007 ICC World T 20 cup and 2011 Cricket World Cup, raising the hopes of ordinary cricketers and cricket lovers in India.
As CSK captain since IPL inception, Dhoni has endeared himself to Tamils like anything – they fondly call him Thala! Yet, he is loved by all cricket fans across the country. “MS Dhoni: The Untold Story” a 2016 film directed by Neeraj Pandey is one of the best biopics on a sports persons in the world. The movie made at a liberal Rs 100 crore budget raked in Rs 220 crore at the box office.
Dhoni captained CSK 10 times to IPL out of its 14 editions (twice they didn’t play) and won five titles! Who else can match him, at least in the coming few years! We saw Dhoni giving tips to fellow players, even if they are opposite sides, after the matches. We saw how runner up team captain Hardik Pandya admiring Dhoni, before and after the final match on Monday. Definitely, Pandya would have been happier to loose this final to a deserving Dhoni.
We saw how Narendra Modi stadium was awash with yellow, colour of CSK, on both Sunday and Monday, as the final match dragged on to two days. We also saw how hundreds of those who cancelled their hotel rooms in Ahmedabad slept on railway stations on Sunday night to watch the match again on Monday, as the rains played with cricket. Now all cricket fans will pray for seeing him in action in IPL 17th edition, in 2024. Hope he will be there!