Dear fans of MS Dhoni,
I’m writing you this letter to show my appreciation to you. No, not the ‘fans’ who were abusing him yesterday and are cheering him today; I’m not talking to you lot. And if you are the type of person who will worship the ground he walks on today and stone his house after a failure tomorrow, I urge you to stop reading right now. READ: MS Dhoni: What makes him such a successful batsman?
I’m talking to you, the fans who actually had faith; the ones who stuck by a man who is, in all probability, in the twilight of his international career. This letter is addressed to the ones who knew, deep down, that despite his recent shortcomings Dhoni is not past his prime. The ones who realised that while Dhoni is not the finisher he once was, he still has an integral role to play in this side.
To you, the true, loyal fan, I say congratulations.
Congratulations for having the courage to stand by your captain. Congratulations for not taking the easy way out and jumping ship. Congratulations for not joining the bandwagon and baying for Dhoni’s blood. I must confess I too felt Dhoni needed to either give up his ODI and T20I captaincy, or give up keeping wickets to extend his career in both formats. I also spoke about how his role in the team will have to change, but how he is still very much an integral part of India’s ODI line-up. As a journalist while writing about how certain players might be past their prime, I am always glad to be proved wrong.
Dhoni proved me wrong, but he vindicated you, his fans. Dhoni had a phenomenal match — as batsman, as wicketkeeper, and as captain — and you can now proudly look at his detractors in the eyes and smile as they squirm. Dhoni has, in one match, proven not only how vital he is to India with the bat, but how sharp his wicketkeeping skills still are, and how shrewd a captain he remains. This performance might have taken some time to come, but now that it has you can be sure he will repeat it.
The next time Dhoni’s ‘haters’ rear their heads again, you can remind them of what he said after the post-match press conference: “I want to enjoy my ODI cricket. I want to bat up the order. But when I come over here, I see my team; I find it very difficult to just promote myself… There is the pressure of who will bat at No. 6 or 7…I can’t really put too much pressure on the youngsters. After playing so many ODIs if I can’t do it, I can’t expect others to do it.”
Congratulations. You deserve to savour this moment fully.
A journalist who was glad to be proven wrong.