The first qualifier between Chennai Super Kings and Delhi Capitals was a humdinger and the fans not only got to see a thrilling game, but also to see their hero MS Dhoni hitting the winning runs.
Dhoni first became a super hero for a billion Indian fans when he made team India win the inaugural T20 World Cup in South Africa with a young team in 2007.
This historic win gave birth to the Indian Premier League - the biggest franchise cricket league in the world and Dhoni was appointed the captain of Chennai Super Kings when all teams wanted him in their team but it was N. Srinivasan, the franchise owner, who won the bidding war against other franchises.
Rest as they say is history as he has won three IPL titles, but what’s more important is that he has won countless games for his franchise singlehandedly.
He was then appointed the ODI captain and he made India win the second ODI World Cup in 2011 after 28 years of long wait with a six of Nuwan Kulasekra - which people still remember and it gives me goosebumps too till now.
Dhoni - in his prime - was known as a finisher in the white ball format and whenever he comes to bat, his fans expect him to finish the game with a six or a boundary and it brings happiness to billion fans.
I was privileged to see Sunday’s game between Delhi and CSK with my younger son, Sahil who was also keen to see Dhoni bat. When Ruturaj Gaikwad and Robin Uthappa were going well, both of us felt that we won’t get to see MSD come on to bat as CSK were coasting to victory and that’s when five wickets fell quickly. When Dhoni came on to bat at the score at 149/5, CSK still required 24 of 11 balls and like all fans in the stadium, we both had the belief and the expectation that it would be Dhoni’s day.
But then, we had the fear he may not be able to do it as in the last two years after the 2019 World Cup, Dhoni has not had a good 2020 IPL and had scored only 85 runs prior to this match in 2021 IPL. When he first pulled Avesh Khan for a flat six over midwicket, our hopes raised like all other fans in the stadium.
Then 13 runs were required in the last over and when Moeen Ali fell on the first ball of Tom Curran, Dhoni had five balls to finish the game. The second ball of Tom Curran was heaved by Dhoni for a four over extra cover, nine runs required of four balls and Dhoni had his share of luck. He got an inside edge which went for four and Curran bowled a wide and Dhoni and crowd were on its feet with everyone wanting to see their superhero hit a six.
He then pulled the fourth ball for a four to fulfill the dreams of fans like us who were expecting a trademark ‘Thalaiva’ finish.
‘The Helicopter’ landed in Dubai in the 19th over and took off immediately, fulfilling the dreams of many diehard fans who were screaming only one name: “Dhoni, Dhoni, Dhoni.”
- Cricket enthusiast and businessman Anis Sajan is Vice Chairman of Danube Group