Oh, Him In Danger’s Hand!

Ind vs SA, 2015, ODI #1, Kanpur, Over 49.4, 7 needed off 3, KG Rabada to MSD, lobbed it in the air, failed to get the elevation and the timing on it, and Rabada completed the catch. The start of the India-SA ODI series set a gloomy tone and it ended with a crashing collapse at the Wankhede. The first instance of calls for MSD to retire from all forms of cricket soon followed. ‘Repeated failures in finishing games’ was the complaint. I waited in bated breath for an announcement from the press conference following that SA series. Nothing there at all. The tone seemed to continue across social media and the press, with the latest being from the famous episode after Ind-WI at the WT20 2016.

Fast forward to his 35th Birthday, He is still around. The only reason I watched Ind-Zim late night was coz of that too. While I am thankful for that, I am more grateful for the moments he has given me and Team India fans. In their truest sense, each one of them have bled blue.

Little did people appreciate him for the famous move which happened in England, 2013 during the Champions Trophy. It remains one of my favourite wins of MSD, for the pure genius of it, when he got in Ishant Sharma to remove Eoin Morgan and Bopara off successive deliveries. Fittingly, Ashwin, who went onto become his trusted aide, took both those takes. A prophetic start which began at the Bullring came to an end there, as MSD wrapped up his last ICC trophy to date at Lords. He came back again in July 2014, to lead India to a famous test win, a much needed one, which unfortunately became the last of his test career overseas.

Tributes are written out of the heart. Something that does not involve conventional research and proof-reading. This is as instinctive the MSD fan-boy in me could get. My top 5 moments from my idol’s greatest career, where he redefined what cricket meant to me and more importantly, how leadership was about seizing the key moments.

Moment #1: No guesses. WC 2011, 91* off 79. Nuff said.

Moment # 2: CB Series 2nd Final vs Aus, 2008. Bringing Sreeshanth back to bowl to Mike Hussey with Aussies cruising steadily at 199/5. We all know how Aussies fight hard in every game. India needed Mike Hussey at that point of time and a piece of brilliance from MSD himself behind the stumps aided it.🙂 The entire tournament was special, his first major one as ODI captain, but this coming just after Sydneygate was bliss.

Moment # 3: IPL Final, 2010. CSK vs MI: The pressure of a title. Pollard sent in late, conjures a brilliant cameo only to be stopped by the most innovative field position till date in the IPL. Hayden took a stunner and CSK pulled off their first title victory. The BCCI has spoiled it’s reputation for die-hard CSK fans by not only pulling CSK out, but introducing a mini-IPL to extend the pain of a CSKian. As MSD has always done, we too shall bear with it until 2018.

Moment #4: To list the top 3 were all finals shows how frequently MSD has been there. This comes from India vs England, 2014. He had to overcome his natural tendency to push at the ball and given his vulnerability against Broad and the moving ball, this was a gem of an innings to watch.

Moment #5: This comes from India vs Australia, the next CB series in 2012. That six off Clint Mckay, needing 12 off 4, re-instated that he could clear any boundary. That was definitely the longest boundary in Australia I believe. I want MSD to find that mojo back, and soon!

Of course, there have been several brilliant wicket-keeping moments which I have been replaying time and again. Not to mention those press conferences, overseas test losses, the century from 29/5 against Pak at Chennai, the sore fingers after each session of a test, the legs that converted every single into unbelievable twos….

A tribute to the mind that had it in control at all times, to the mind that re-instated faith that India could be home even at the last ball, to the mind that seemed to pick a wicket out of nowhere, to the mind that mastered chases, to the mind that retorted with witty answers, to the heart that bled blue and yellow.

MSD, the true champion. How striking is it that his name anagrams to

“Oh, Him In Danger’s Hand!”

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Originally published at gravitynucleus.wordpress.com on July 6, 2016.

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