Blistering Dhoni cameo has fans glued to their screens

MS Dhoni in action in IPL 2024
MS Dhoni in action in IPL 2024 (PC: IPL/X)

Daryl Mitchell had just got out to Hardik Pandya, caught at long-on. The camera panned to the crowd, and one could sense a degree of anticipation. Even the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) supporters weren’t unhappy, because MS Dhoni was about to step out to bat for perhaps the final time at the Wankhede. Or, wait a minute. What we witnessed in the next four balls begged the question – is it the final time? Rather, should it be the last call for someone with a strike rate of 241 in the final over in the IPL? 

Hardik bowled the first one full, and MSD was on to the stroke in a flash. Full flexing of the arms, and the ball went high and handsome. The stadium erupted, and Hardik was stunned. That was off-script for the first ball, and he was just a little out-thought as he walked back to his bowling mark. 

Having tried the first ball outside the off stump, Hardik overcompensated and bowled the next one on middle. And it was as if Dhoni was expecting it. The perfect swivel to get into position, and with the body facing the long-on fence, he unleashed the stroke. Once he made contact, the ball had one destination – into the crowd behind long-on. Hardik was now visibly under pressure. Maybe it was that pressure that got to him, for he bowled a nothing full toss the third ball, and all Dhoni did was give it direction. Use of the wrists to generate the timing and power, and the ball sailed into the stands for a third straight six.

He had yet again turned the clock back, and it was cricketing romance of a very different kind. From having finished the World Cup in style with a six, to hitting three consecutive maximums in perhaps his last IPL game at the venue, Dhoni was writing a script that even the cricketing Gods would find difficult to pen down. 

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MS Dhoni in action in IPL 2024
MS Dhoni in action in IPL 2024 (PC: IPL/X)

Could it be four out of four? Hardik bowled a slower one outside the off, and Dhoni swung at it but without timing. Ishan Kishan half-stopped it before Gerard Coetzee kept it to a couple. Dhoni’s cameo had produced 20 off four balls, and the stadium was left in awe. In fact, I quickly changed channels to go to Jio, and within five minutes, another crore viewers had been added. Mahi maar raha hai [Mahi is hitting] was the invisible cry all across India and fans from all over had joined in to celebrate the last roar.

Dhoni literally sprinted back to the pavilion, for that’s how he is. He needed to get ready for wicket-keeping duties, and knew that as long as he walked, the stadium wouldn’t stop cheering. The only time he slowed down was when he saw that a lady from the stands had dropped a ball on the steps to the pavilion. Dhoni picked it up, handed it back to her and disappeared into the change room. Was it for the final time? Will he no longer step out to bat at the Wankhede? Has this romance really ended? No one has answers to these questions, and in all fairness, we do not want them either. There is still a lingering hope that Dhoni will come back, and it only adds to the charm of watching the IPL. 

For someone who doesn’t play the game for 10 months of the year to play the three shots that he did was simply unbelievable. In fact, it has a sense of the supernatural attached to it. But then, what is MSD but a superman who has added to the aura of the IPL in the last few years. That it is still not over is a solace. We may still see a few cameos. Still see Dhoni come out and hit from ball one. And in doing so, allow us all to say Mahi maar raha hai and forge a strange bond – one that celebrates an icon who is timeless and immortal.

Also Read: Iconic walk and hat-trick of sixes: MS Dhoni’s love story with Wankhede continues