We hate MS Dhoni off late, don’t we?
I mean, look at it. We know he could hit those towering big sixes. We know he could take on any bowler in the world. We know he could win matches on his own.
We know, because we have seen him do it before.
Yet, he batted way down the order. He defended his way through the middle overs. He frustrated you. He made it too difficult in the end and when the team lost, the blame naturally fell on him.
I mean, what was he thinking?
Surely, he should have tried hitting earlier. Surely, he should haven’t left too much for too late.
Roll back to the World Cup semi-final last year. We blame Dhoni for his 72-ball 50. But India were 5/3 and 24/4. Would Jadeja have thrived without Dhoni at the other end? Would India have gotten anywhere close but for Dhoni’s knock?
The intangible value of Dhoni – the ones that cannot be measured in stats – was pretty high. You couldn’t pinpoint why Dhoni was in the team in that World Cup. I mean, his record wasn’t great in the build-up.
But you knew you’d rather have him than a rookie in that situation.
We blame it on him when he fails.
We hate him for his failures; for his inability to take India over the line in the semi-final last year.
But where does the hate stem from?
Why do we think Dhoni, and not Jadeja, the man who was in song that day, should have finished the game off?
Why do we blame it on Dhoni when the entire top-order fumbled?
The answer is perhaps more straightforward than most think. The hatred we have is not on Dhoni. It’s on the image of Dhoni that he made us believe in.
The Dhoni we knew could finish games off. The Dhoni we knew would bail the team out time and again. He instilled belief in us. We even believed in a team that had players well past their prime (Chennai Super Kings).
Dhoni’s greatest legacy is perhaps just that.
He made us believe in a team that he belonged to. Always.
When we are disappointed at Dhoni, we aren’t actually disappointed at him, are we? There’s no evidence to suggest that anyone else in his place have done any better. Would even we have trusted someone else to bail India out from trouble?
Our disappointment is at the image of Dhoni that he made us believe in; made us fall in love with.
We hate Dhoni because we love him.