“Kuch reet jagat ki aisi hai, Har ek subaah ki shaam huii,
Tu kaun hai tera naam hai kya, Sita bhi yahan badnam huii!”
These lines from a popular Rajesh Khanna movie sum up the story of heroes in India. We cheer every movement of our stars but if they make their presence felt more than our liking, then they are quickly termed as villains. So, here I start penning down my heart for my favorite villain – MSD.
Happy Birthday to you. Being a die hard fan of yours, it is a special day for me as well.
As you grow a year older, here I salute you for your dedication and yeoman service to Indian cricket over the last 12 years. From the day, a young man with long lockscreated news for all the right reasons to one of the most talked about cricketers the world has ever seen, it’s been a privilege to see you and follow your career with utmost satisfaction while getting the knowledge of being polite to everyone. You behold the truth that nothing is permanent in life. Every success and indeed failure is never going to live forever.
You guided a young side to being world beaters when the country was yet to know the shortest format of the game clearly. You took the team to numero Uno position in test cricket within a year of taking up captaincy in the whites. You gave us the best story of our generation to narrate for an entire life time, 2011 ICC Cricket world Cup. When the IPL Spot fixing saga came up, it was never easy to lead the Indian side. But you showed great temperament to lead India to emphatic victory in the 2013 Champions Trophy against all the odds.
They say the main ingredients of a good captain are selflessness, aggression and cookiness. Some say you don’t have these qualities. You retired when you felt you had an able successor to take up the mantle. The series against Sri Lanka and a long home season was coming. Was there any better time than that to bid adieu to test cricket? 100 test matches,may be 6000 test runs was there for the taking, more records would have been etched under your name, you decided to quietly walk away. A rarity in Indian cricket!
I think none of those critics were there in South Africa in 2007, India won the inaugural edition of the T20 world cup but it might not have been the case had we not got off to a thrilling start against arch rivals Pakistan which acted as a catalyst for the rest of the tournament.India was tottering at 36-4, you joined Uthappa and your 33 provided the team a defendable score. When you carved a way out with a brilliant 45 of 33 balls against the hosts and again lifted India, the critics were still limping behind you. India eventually won the game by just 10 runs and your gear shift at the death provided the much needed impetus. Wasn’t that aggression? People talk about the aggression of Yuvraj Singh in the 2007 T20 World Cup against Australia in the quarter final. But people tend to forget your contribution of 36 runs of only 18 balls in the same game. You have done the same, time and again to lift the country from trouble on so many circumstances.
Your calm and composed demeanor gave India unparalleled joy. Unlike a Ricky Pointing or a Sourav Ganguly, you slay the Goliath by your on field tactics without any verbal banter. You believe in getting the job done just like the quiet fifty without a boundary against the Lankans at Adelaide in the 2008 CB series. India would have never made it to the finals had it not been for your telling contribution.
There is lot to you than what meets the common fan’s eyes. Just like you create a bubble of your own and wrap the team in it before any big assignment. You seldom come out of that bubble when people question your ability which you have proven time and again both as a batsman and as a captain. Your wicket keeping is perhaps the best that the TV generation has seen and flash stumping is an invention in which you are the patentee. You are a man of few words and more actions. You are shy off the field and sly on the field. You believe in processes than results.
On your birthday, I want to tell you the way I know you. From the time, you made your debut, you became the crowd favorite. Earlier, when the fab five started transitioning out, there was no hope. But your fresh demeanor made me and the world believe that there is more to Indian cricket than just the fab five. You started scoring runs and finished the job with a lot of aplomb. You allowed the top order to bat freely. Your sparkling 148 or 183* will remain a measure of belligerence for times to come. You never hesitated to bite the bullet when it was required. You lived up to the billing and have finished the game for India more than umpteen times. You became an ODI legend.
With CSK, you created such a name that people of Chennai named you ‘Thalaiva’. CSK became an emotion only because you were leading the team.
Despite achieving numerous accolades which are second to none in the Indian cricketing circles, your critics have only grown in numbers pretty much like the growth of the fans. But that never has deterred you or your process to achieve the means. You are a rebel of whom the world didn’t have any clue and India I guess are still oblivious about. You came to conquer the world and you have done that with a lot of élan. Youplaya sport like a sport.
As unpredictable you are with your captaincy, one thing that remains easily predictable is, the way you have been handling the team, which will be missed down the line and indeed the finishing touches. Before I end my letter, one line that my brother Kumar has once told me, will be a small gift for your birthday.
“Years down the line, when 11 runs are needed off the last over and India will fail to do that, then one would hear a hushing line from the fans, “Yaar, agar aj mahi hota na arram se hota” (Had Mahi been here, this could have been easily achieved)”
Happy Birthday Mahi. You will be my hero forever.