Dhoni vs Kohli, IPL fans surely need this adrenaline high

Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni
Virat Kohli and MS Dhoni (PC: X & Subhayan)

There are games and then there are mega contests, in sports. Between teams, or in this case, between individuals. Roger Federer versus Rafael Nadal, Federer versus Novak Djokovic in tennis, Mohammad Ali versus Joe Frazier in boxing, Yazdani versus David Taylor in wrestling, Neeraj Chopra taking on Jakub in javelin and so on.

Each of these contests assume the status of a cult over a period of time. You don’t want either gladiator to lose. Each has enriched sport for years and each has a legion of fans who will forever be with their superhero. To see one of them vanquished is painful. Also, to see one of their teams go out will be a heartbreak. And yet, sport is about heartbreaks. Raw emotion. Real, not reel.

Between MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli and between CSK and RCB, one team will survive. While one team will qualify on Saturday night in IPL 2024, the other will be shown the door. Despite all the passion, it will be the end of the road for one side. And when you factor that it could well be the last time these two legends compete against each other you have to feel a tinge of pain. Without them facing off, the IPL will be poorer. So, without taking sides, it is perhaps apt we enjoy both tonight, rain gods permitting.

First things first, we don’t really know if it is the last time. And we don’t want it to be. MSD has batted and kept wickets brilliantly in this IPL and fitness permitting, he could easily play one more year. He has the skill and it has been evident time and again when he has cleared the ropes with regularity. Virat has been the best Indian batter on show and also the most consistent, so there is no doubt he will be around for a few more years. So, to call it one last time could well be untrue. Having said that, we all love such spectacles.

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MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli in IPL
MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli in IPL (PC: X)

Occasions that we can build up to. And this is one such. Weather permitting, it is about two of Indian cricket’s greatest ever stars taking on each other in a team game, of course. And it’s about two teams which have cult following and don’t depend on results alone.

Needless to say, Kohli has always been unequivocal about the impact of Dhoni on his career and that respect has added a fine layer to this rivalry. A layer of grace and sportsmanship. It is about everything good in sport. Rather, what sport aspires to be. Hard fought battles in the middle and yet, off it, the utmost respect and admiration for each other. Frankly, it all adds up.

A Dhoni-Kohli embrace, social media will be on fire! Maybe, even General Elections rhetoric will take a backseat for a few hours. We wouldn’t have to hear or see politicians abusing each other for some hours as these two super heroes – MSD and VK — and their teams take centre stage. And the IPL, which has been a bit off colour with games washed out, the last eight days needs this clash. It needs stories and there can’t be anything better.

As far as the match result is concerned, there is a lot at stake. A point won and CSK go through. RCB has to win and win big with some overs to spare. All this makes it even more addictive. But then, who cares for the result after a point. Indian cricket will win and isn’t that the reason the IPL was conceived. Every fan will go happy, whoever wins. How can you not be happy for either Dhoni or Kohli? How can you not have a smile on your face when either waves to the crowd at the Chinnaswamy Stadium in Bengaluru. That’s where the IPL triumphs over everything else as a brand that can keep a billion up at night and send them to bed with smiles all over. So, clearly, it’s time for the mega contest. One just hopes, the rain stays away and allows fans their evening out with these two men who have both made history over the years. It’s MSD v VK tonight. Everything else can take a backseat.

Also Read: ‘June 7, I will cry a lot’: Sunil Chhetri gears up for one last dance in Indian jersey