IPL 2017: ‘Determined’ MS Dhoni comes to the fore – Since the start of this IPL, the former India captain has been put under a microscope. Every move, shot and run of his was scrutinised like never before
MS Dhoni (PTI)
As soon as MS Dhoni caressed the ball through cover for four to gift his team a miraculous last-ball victory over Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH), the entire Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) dugout got up from their seats. Non-striker Manoj Tiwary walked up to Dhoni with his arms raised to give him a hug.
Each RPS member was either cheering or flashing a grin. As for the man himself, he merely obliged Tiwary’s hug and shook hands with the SRH players. The expressions on his face were deadpan — as they 99.99 per cent are with Dhoni — but there was something in his eyes that told a different tale.
His eyes remained unfluttered for a few seconds after hitting those winning runs. Those eyes were of steel, purpose and determination.
The blink could wait. Dhoni had to first prove a point.
Since the start of this IPL, the former India captain has been put under a microscope. Every move, shot and run of his was scrutinised like never before.
It became more complicated due to Dhoni’s poor returns in RPS’s first five games: 12*, 5, 11, 5, 28. Dhoni needed an answer, RPS needed an answer, India needed an answer.
The answer came when he walked out to bat in the 11th over on Saturday, with RPS requiring 90 in nine overs. It was a test that Dhoni would pass with distinction a couple of years ago. In recent times, he was flunking more often. He couldn’t afford another failure on Saturday.
Perhaps, Dhoni knew it. That’s the reason why Dhoni of the old decided to turn up. That’s the reasons those eyes were different after the finisher’s finish.
“He was determined,” head coach Stephen Fleming said of Dhoni on the eve of RPS’ game against Mumbai Indians on Sunday.
“It was a performance that was befitting of a man who has the reputation of being a great finisher. There has been a discussion around when was the last time he has played an innings like that. People were questioning his form but you’ve got to remember (that) playing an innings like that, we had got a bit blasé about how special they were,” he added.
People were indeed questioning. But with Dhoni, those daggers always turn docile.
“He has never listened or been affected by all the off-field talk. He isolates himself away from that which is a good thing especially in India with the pressure and the amount of talk there is. But still, the calmness he shows in such situations is one of his greatest assets. And yesterday (Saturday), it was to the fore,” Fleming said.