On August 15, 2020, the former India captain announced his retirement from international cricket in a post on his Instagram account. No press, No media
Now with him not at the crease, the silence will be deafening.
What I want to write about is what he meant. To me, of course, as a fan, but also to our generation.
MSD retires as India’s most successful captain, holder of a legacy that includes the team that is now dominating world cricket. The genius of his leadership made this generation. Confident, world-beating superstars, galacticos. King Kohli, sublime Rohit, awesome Bumrah, magical Kuldeep, a fierce, prowling-at-point Jaddu.
MSD is the story we speak in our generation when we say with your hard work. You can be captain of India. You can build a rocket. You can be an Olympian. You can build a company. You can help people. You can do anything you want.
And like Dhoni, you can do it your way.
In his calmness, courage, and leadership, I have found inspiration and strength
He completely revolutionized the way people perceive cricket in India, throwing a strong emphasis on nurturing young talent and significantly improving the fielding ability of Team India over the years. After going through a rough phase owing to a string of series losses after the World Cup in England and Australia, he achieved something extraordinary yet again — whitewashing Australia in a Test Series at home and becoming the most successful Indian Skipper of all time and then leading India to their maiden Champions Trophy title, becoming the only Captain to have won all three ICC trophies. Dhoni’s ability to finish games as per his will while taking them too literally the last ball earned him the fear and respect of bowlers all around the world
In the end, it was all a bit unreal. MSD running a double, a World Cup in the balance, and Marty Guptill’s sharp throw breaking a billion hearts. It’s easy to read the symbolism now after the game is over, but until that point, India never lost hope. This was the last world cup we saw MSD play in.
Even today, it boggles my mind. I’m still amazed by how he did it. Long haired Bihari boy, straight out of the hill country, raw and muscular, no money, no connections, comes to the game and fights his way in through sheer physical and mental ability.
How did he find it within himself to become the leader he became, skilled, supple, and street-smart? How did he take all of that pressure in and deliver, at the crunch moments, blows of such staggering confidence and ferocity, that even now in the twilight of his playing days, even in the direst of dire situations, we believe?
I always knew I’d be writing this one day, and though I’ve known this for so long, and dreaded it for even longer, you can’t do much when the time comes.
And the time has come. When our heroes bow out, they don’t leave alone, do they? They take a bit of you with them.
And so my most heartfelt goodbye goes to you. Goodbye MSD…. Good bye