Former India captain MS Dhoni is not someone you would think will lose sleep over others opinion after his repeated failures with the bat. But he is human after all, and no matter how many times he has succeeded to hold his emotions on the field, there were rare occasions when he did shed a tear or two in a post-match interview or charge into the field from the dug-out to argue against an umpiring decision.
It happened again at the post-match interview after Chennai Super Kings (CSK), a franchise which is richer due to Dhoni's presence, beat Rajasthan Royals by 45 runs in the IPL 2021 encounter on Monday. The day, incidentally, marked 13 years to CSK's debut in the IPL. But a lot has changed over these years.
"When you are playing, you don't really want anyone to say he's unfit. Performances are something that are not guaranteed. I wasn't guaranteeing performances when I was 24, I can't guarantee when I am 40," Dhoni said after the match.
It might painful to watch Dhoni toil for runs ever since the 2019 World Cup and fans are right to be frustrated seeing their favourite player's form go down. But Dhoni remains much more than a batsman. His cricketing brain is unquestionable, ask English all-rounder Sam Curran, and he would be able to justify the same. Or all the young India cricketers who walk up to him for advice. In fact, the Chennai franchise will lose its aura, once Dhoni bids adieu to the IPL. That is how much he means to the game.
In fact, for a man, who has won almost everything cricket has to offer, his analogy of being a 'pal do pal ka shaayar' in his retirement reel says a lot about him. Moreover, Dhoni never played for the fans, he played for the love of the nation. He was and is dedicated to his country and the camouflage patch on the CSK jersey still remains a testament to that.
And for the critics, who disregard him, based on his current form should tune in to the beautiful song by Mukesh sahab which also says 'woh bhi ek pal ka kissa tha, mein bhi ek ka kissa hu' to amplify the mindset of one of the greatest ambassadors of the game.
The game is, and will always remain, grateful to his contribution and fans shouldn't lose respect for him as he has given them a lot more to cherish for the rest of the life.