It was a blast from the past. At the end of which the Lion continued to roar. What’s life without belief?
When M.S. Dhoni walked out during the climactic stages against Delhi Capitals in Qualifier 1, ahead of Ravindra Jadeja, the Chennai Super Kings fans could have exclaimed a collective “Oh No.”
And they could not be faulted. After all, little had gone right for Dhoni with the bat in this IPL. He had been hitting thin air.
He was 40 now with grey streaks in his hair. Had he slowed down?
But then, he was keeping wickets alertly, both standing up and to the pacemen. If his reflexes had deserted him, he surely would have fluffed his `takes.’
For Dhoni it was a matter of form. And he had to rediscover it and fast. Time waits for no one.
Those who have watched Dhoni practise range hitting would know how seriously he takes these drills and how long he can still strike the ball.
He’s not the world’s greatest finisher for nothing. But now questions were being asked. At stake was pride.
Dhoni is renowned for taking decisions that are guided by instinct. They are invariably right.
Whether it was asking the unsung Joginder Sharma to bowl the last over in the World Twenty20 final, walking in ahead of the in-form Yuvraj Singh in the ODI World Cup summit clash, or entering the arena ahead of Jadeja on Sunday in IPL Qualifier I, Dhoni backs his gut feeling.
Courage he has in plenty – he leads by example – and also faith in his own ability.
On Sunday, the signs were clear when he smashed the red-hot Avesh Khan over midwicket for a six.
Then, in the last over, he thumped Tom Curran through covers, found a lucky inside edge and then swung the pacemen for the winning runs. It was over, Delhi Capitals consumed by the desert sandstorm.
Dhoni’s hurricane six-ball unbeaten 18 – the bat-speed and wrists were visible again – had settled the issue. The finisher was back in business. Never count Dhoni out.