“Karmanye Vadhikaraste, Ma Phaleshou Kada Chana,
Ma Karma Phala Hetur Bhurmatey Sangostva Akarmani”
(Meaning: You have the right to perform your actions, but you are not entitled to the fruits of the actions. Do not let the fruit be the purpose of your actions, and therefore you won’t be attached to not doing your duty.)
There is no better phrase to describe the man, who silently served without much fanfare, un-orthodox style be it with the bat or with the captain’s arm-band and the man who knew his job was to play and never let an emotion crawl in. His interactions with the masses included a few witty words, a grin and as someone who stood by his boys throughout.
The man is known to surprise people with his decisions always, be it the out of turn defense of Fletcher or making Ishant Sharma bowl those bouncers to the English batsman as we registered a historic away Test win at Lords. He never longed too much for attention nor let the critics play with his mind. He has remained humbled both in victory and defeat, and he has signed off similarly as well. Honestly, I wouldn’t say that I was sad or heart-broken when I heard the announcement. Maybe it was indeed time for him to hand over the rudder to the man he has been patient with and has backed right from the 2011 series down-under, in-spite of a poor form then, to the “spoilt-brat” as referred to by the kangaroos aka King Kohli.
It is indeed surprising and sometimes scary, how people who worship Cricket as a religion, can make you either heroes or even turn a back on you overnight. Gone are the times when they will dance to your laurels of the past and let you free-ride, because they indeed mean business, every single time. Dhoni has been on the unpleasant side of the wrath of the masses, quite often these days, majorly for his ability to lead “aggressively enough” in the longer format of the game. A batting average of just above 26 in the last 4 years and 15 lost overseas tests out of 18 that we played, the man certainly was breeding in trouble, compelling demands to see change at the helm. But was it really his fault entirely that our boys were never able to cross the line ever overseas? What actually did put him on auto-defense mode the moment he thought of playing a test abroad? The openers hardly clicked while we never found Viru type opening onslaught again. When he needed his bowlers to step up, he got served as Ishant Sharma as the leader of the pack. When he looked for a settled no.6, he was served with “Talent”. No wonder karma is a bitch. Jumbo left a void to never be filled by any spinner again. Imagine an Indian captain, with not a single quality spinner at his disposal. How do you expect them to clear the tail at ease? The tail will surely wag and it added to his woes. The Indian batting never fails to collapse while the bowlers fail to bowl good line and length and we expect the captain to be aggressive, really how? It adds immense pressure on you when a nation of 1.2 billion people expect you to do right, each time. They may tag him as ‘Captain Cool’ but he yet remains a human, as susceptible and vulnerable like any of us. The side-effects were evident as it started affecting his batting. He might not be technically the most effective batsman, but has been there to hold up when needed and scored short of 5000 runs. However, dancing down the track to the seamers, all the time these days, clearly showed that the ‘Cucumber’ had started to wear out and it was only time that he gave it all this a serious thought. Known to back his instincts, he did not wait for another 10 tests, to reach the 100 test mark, most of them to be played at home, ending on a high with a whitewash, and leaving a sweet memory in the minds of the people. This gentleman, rather chose to do the right thing, to pass the baton at a time when a possible victory at Sydney, might just be the perfect morale booster and a starter for Virat. Yes, this guy will never stop to amaze you while you could be busy finding another reason to complain.
We all have been fancying Kohli as that captain we need to pull us out of this debris, a feeling quite similar to, before Ganguly took over the reigns from Azharuddin. He is the man who can match Ganguly’s feat of making Steve Waugh wait at the toss by deliberately going late, not once but apparently, seven times, during the entire historic home series of 2001. His thinking coincides with that of the expectations of the masses that the ‘Men in Blue’ should go out on the field to make war and not love. My only caution would be that Kohli’s aggression, no doubt, is working for him but will that much aggression also work for d rest of the boys? There is a thin line between being courageous and being foolish while you are aggressive. Remember Saha’s dismissal at Adelaide and KL Rahul’s at the MCG? It is at such times that we will actually miss the calmness of the ultra-mohawk, grey beard guy. To the most successful captain-wicket-keeper-batsman, maybe you felt the ‘whites’ had seen enough of you as you silently walked away; but do let us know well in advance before you plan to walk away from the ‘Bleed Blue’ too, you deserve to be celebrated and do bless us with that one final chance!