He took it deep

Updated: 30 August, 2020 12:26 IST | Rahul da Cunha | Mumbai

Perhaps what I'm saying, will go 'bumper' over your head for now, but I'll voice it nonetheless. Your father is cut from a different cloth than any other player in the history of Indian cricket

Illustration/Uday Mohite
Illustration/Uday Mohite

Rahul da CunhaDear Ziva...

Hi, my dear! We haven't met, but I'm one of Dad's long time fans—obviously there's his cricket, his Captain Coolness, his clouting sixes at will, but my interest extends to the subterranean aspect of your Papa, the stuff going on under the surface.

Perhaps what I'm saying, will go 'bumper' over your head for now, but I'll voice it nonetheless. Your father is cut from a different cloth than any other player in the history of Indian cricket.

Guess there's the wondrous aspect of his small town beginnings, how a ticket collector became a wicket keeper. But for me, the ugliness of the context and culture around his journey and how he coped, is vital—Indian sports is complex, Indian cricket, even more so. BCCI is this mother ship, lacking in compassion, its administrators believing that with absolute power, politeness isn't required—a bunch of murky men, in blazers.

To go with that, is us, as negative and uncultured. We are the 'anti-social media'—today's 'cricket lover', armed with megaphoned anonymity, is despicably fickle, the hatred harboured inside of him is alarming—and Mahi, the hero of many a battle, faced this flip-flopism over his career, more so at the end.

Perhaps your Dad was his own worst enemy—he made us believe that 'impossible was nothing'. That losing was only an option, when every attempt to win had failed. Your pop produced 'blinders'; in seemingly lost causes, that no one could produce, no one. Not Sachin, not Kohli, not anyone quite had that x factor to take it to the last over, to take it so deep.

Also, he made us believe that he was ageless. I guess, when you're the second fastest sprinter in the team and still you're the oldest, who can blame you.

Frankly, Ziva, no one had the right to call him 'old man', except you for obvious reasons.

There were two Dhoni avatars—country and Chennai Super Kings. Perhaps his greatest legacy was CSK.

He built his team carefully, choosing men like himself, men he could trust, scrappers with that warrior edge.

To have Fleming as coach, earn Hayden's, Hussey's and Watson's respect—tough steely hard-nosed Aussies, the Windies' DJ Bravo, the South African captain Faf duPlessis, the all-round brilliance of Jadeja, and finally Raina, the Robin to his Batman.

Indian cricket is infested with boys and alpha males. There are too few men, many boys with beards and a bad word to express both celebration and chagrin. And all the while, the anti-social media baying for his retirement.

For all this, your Dad was quiet—letting the white noise pass him by like a bye. But, he had a stoicism. Interesting that a man who showed nothing, could convey so much. For all his flamboyance and flair, he had a fragility that appealed to us all, me for sure.

But finally, MS was done with the BS.

Only he could call it quits on Insta, "As of 1929 hrs, consider me retired".

So listen little Ziva, I'll sign off for now. Will you wish Dad Dhoni from me?

In an era of superheroes, your dad was a Marvel.

He truly took it deep.

The shallow will never understand that.

Rahul daCunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahul.dacunha@mid-day.com

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First Published: 30 August, 2020 06:00 IST

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