Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s double dhamaka
Chennai: Mahendra Singh Dhoni is, in many ways, Chennai’s adopted son. Though he worked his way into the Indian team as a small-town cricketer from Ranchi, his elevation to cult status ran parallel to his association with the southern city.
Dhoni’s bond with Chennai doesn’t end with his being the skipper of the Indian Premier League’s most successful franchisee, Chennai Super Kings. It was here at Chepauk where Dhoni’s Test career took off under a grey sky. He may have made only 30 in a rain-ruined match against Sri Lanka in 2005, but it was only the beginning of a great innings in India colours. Chepauk has witnessed many a Dhoni blitzkrieg in the IPL, but the knock that stood out was the one he scored in whites.
His 224 Dhoni’s highest in Tests against Australia in 2013 bailed India out from a precarious position on a pitch that resembled the Roland Garros surface. He stitched a century stand with Virat Kohli and slammed 30 boundaries including six sixes in his match-winning knock. Former Aussie skipper Greg Chappell, who was India’s coach when Dhoni made his debut, had picked the Chennai knock as the best by an Indian in Tests. “I have seen him smack a yorker length delivery from James Anderson for a six. It requires special talent. His success on a crumbling Chennai track stems from his ability to strike the ball hard on pitches where the ball tends to keep low. The manner in which he attacked a tiring Australian attack, shielding the tailenders, truly makes him a match-winner,” Chappell had said.
Dhoni’s Chennai special came in the aftermath of series of overseas defeats. His captaincy was under fire and tactics were ridiculed by a number of former cricketers. Some had even questioned his place in the Test team.Former India captain Ajith Wadekar said Dhoni has the knack of firing at the right time. “If you look at his record, he has come up with crucial knocks when the chips are down. His Chennai double was one such,” Wadekar told this newspaper. Wadekar said Dhoni should have retired during a home series. “The numbers might suggest Dhoni has achieved more in shorter formats. But he deserved a proper farewell from Test cricket at home,” added Wadekar.