It was the day before Diwali, but the firecrackers exploding at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium were unmatched by any that would succeed November 1.
Bazaars were jam-packed with last minute shoppers; cookware stores spilled their goods onto the streets; coolies strained under loads of TVs, DVD players and washing machines, and sweet sellers were doing a roaring trade.
Amidst this ruckus, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was stamping himself into the history books with an effort unparalleled by any Indian effort for a long, long time. His 10 sixes in the match – the most by an Indian – carried him to a record 183 not-out against a hapless
From being run out for a first-ball duck on his debut against
To whom do we credit this meteoric rise? Surely sheer talent cannot be the reason he has scaled such heights? The Rahul Dravid-Greg Chappell pair has undoubtedly worked well in terms of promoting young talent – a foundation laid down by their predecessors, Messrs. Ganguly and Wright? The burgeoning role that television played in bringing the game to remote corners of
The fact is that Dhoni is the product of a system that encourages youth and which has given cricketers from the smallest corners of
His need for speed and love for fresh milk every morning are well documented, but tell a story of a small-town boy thirsting for the elements. There is a blasé, raw manner to his batting, be it the way he dispatches the ball over square leg with a flick of the wrists from offstump, or when he drives it through mid-on. Coaching manuals may as well have been written in the third century BC for Dhoni – he defies rule of thumb in his approach to hitting the ball.
The game of cricket has always needed big hitters.
It is from such men that Dhoni borrows his effectiveness, but the little time he has needed to scale the top is jaw-dropping.
There are three basic aspects to Dhoni’s game – speed, confidence and unflappability. For someone with an unorthodox technique, the bat speed he generates is remarkable, his running between wickets is one of the quickest
Asian batsmen are known to be wristy craftsmen and Dhoni is the Andy Warhol of this artistry – bold, aggressive, and constantly redefining. Look at the way he drives, crudely reaching out to the ball by extending his wrists, or the manner in which he rocks back and works a ball on offstump to fine leg.
Dhoni can admit that Adam Gilchrist was his idol, but he has taken himself higher – with the bat - in a much more limited timeframe. Both took five matches to make an impact, but is must be noted that Dhoni has achieved, in 42 matches, what Gilchrist and Virender Sehwag, whom some have suggested inspired Dhoni, did not. In the same 42-game timeframe, Dhoni has scored more runs (1372) at a higher average than Gilchrist (1300, 36.11) and Sehwag (1227, 34.08) and has contributed to more wins than the two had when they began. And that he broke the highest score by a wicketkeeper in ODIs – Gilchrist, of all people – in that Jaipur blitzkrieg proves that Dhoni is a man who does not want to bat in anyone’s shadows.
Any analysis of Dhoni must include his contributions to
The henna-stained locks that drew the praise of