The question in the title “How can someone be a Dhoni fan?” was my question for a lot of years. In the past few days or so, I might have found an answer to it. 

Back in 2004, While watching cricket with my dad, I saw Dhoni for the first time, a long haired big guy striking the ball with so ease. My dad maybe had become his fan at that time, but my question was “how can someone be a Dhoni fan?” I said to my dad “sloggers like these come and go, he is not going to last for more than 50 ODI’s.” Seriosuly, at that time, I thought no one would become a Dhoni fan.

Few months later, in a match against Pakistan, chasing a huge total, India were down to 284-5 when Sachin got out. I was shocked to see, the number 3 batsman’s score, who is still batting and that slogger scored 148* to demolish the Pakistan bowling lineup.

In the same series, he played another beautiful innings too. There were many stories which came up regarding him, like drinking 5 litres of milk daily etc. However, I wasn’t convinced. I thought it was “luck”. Dhoni was just lucky.

Many people from all over India started growing hair just like Dhoni. His hairstyle had become a style statement. Whenever I saw someone with a similar hairstyle, I would say to myself here’s another fan. I agree he got many fans but I was not one of them. 

I agreed to the fact that Dhoni is good in ODIs, but my question was can he play Test cricket in demanding situations? Well, MS Dhoni answered my question saving the Lord’s Test back in 2007. The LBW decision went in favour of him and rain played his part to help India save the Test match. I still wasn’t convinced. It was India’s day and rain helped it to draw, not Dhoni.

I was shocked to hear when my dad said that Dhoni is going to lead Team India in the T20 World Cup 2007. Things went from here to there. But still my question was “How can someone be a Dhoni fan?”. It was a matter of time, when Dhoni and co. lifted the first ever T20 World Cup.

I admit that I became his admirer. I thought Dhoni has something in him. In the final of the 2007 WC, when the last over was going on, it was almost over for India as Pakistan just needed 6 to win off 4 balls. But my mom said, “Dhoni kuch toh karega” (Dhoni will do something). Well, I am not quite sure he did something but it was the same going in my heart, it’s just that I wasn’t admitting it. Maybe, I had become a Dhoni fan back then, but my stubborn nature wasn’t willing to take it.

Later he took the ODI captaincy and the golden era began for Team India. A CWB series win in Australia in 2008 and Asia Cup win in 2010 was under Dhoni’s captaincy. Yes, India played a lot at home at that time but one cannot deny the fact that Dhoni is the best ODI captain ever. To be frank, Dhoni’s batting technique is sloppy. It doesn’t look class when Dhoni plays a cover drive or a straight drive. It is not at all pleasing tto eye too. But there is something which makes him different from others. His knowledge about the game and the condition. He can adjust to any condition. I remember, in a match at Dharamshala, when Indian top order was tottering to play the bounce, Dhoni came up taking a few strides ahead and defended. 

Then came the World Cup 2011. The last ball six against Sri Lanka sealed the deal for India and Dhoni was the captain to make Sachin’s dream come true. India lifted the World Cup after 28 years. India was happy, Dhoni fans were happy and so was I. 

I might not have turned to be a Dhoni fan. I still wasn’t convinced about his batting in Test cricket. The disaster struck. India lost against England and Australia by a 8-0 margin. Two back to back white wash. Somewhere I said to myself, my point of Dhoni’s captaincy in Test and his batting has proved to be right. To the surprise of everyone, England beat India at their own den in a Test series by 2-1. People started saying Dhoni should give up captaincy.

A series loss to New Zeland and South Africa made things even worse. I was one of them to support the fact that Dhoni should give up Test captaincy. In 2013, Australia came to India for a Test series in which India returned the favour. Mahendra Singh Dhoni scored a double hundred in that series. I became a Dhoni fan but wasn’t willing to accept it. Dhoni critics and haters, started saying home ground advantage. Earlier this year, India lost to England by 3-1. Dhoni refused to give up captaincy. I wasn’t convinced to his decision of staying as the captain, until I realised that there was no one to replace him. Whom was it going to be? Gautam Gambhir or Virender Sehwag? The ones who are not in the team? or the one who shows middle finger, Virat Kohli? It was a good decision. 

Today, I am a Dhoni fan not because of his captaincy records but there is a feel of safety when he comes to crease. There is belief that he will finish the game and he does. The question is now changed from what it was from the past few years, now it is “How can someone not be a Dhoni fan?


    Archit Athani

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