Dhoni
The chants of “Dhooo-ni, Dhoooo-ni…” echoed across Marine Drive when Shikhar Dhawan was dismissed © AFP

Come to think of it, the only time the fans celebrated a fall of Indian wicket was when Sachin Tendulkar was the next batsman. Come to think of it, that was the only time when fans joined the opposition’s jubilation. Come to think of it, it was Tendulkar, India’s very own Sachin Tendulkar.

The situation was not significantly different at Brabourne Stadium, Mumbai. The chants of “Dhooo-ni, Dhoooo-ni…” echoed across Marine Drive when Shikhar Dhawan was dismissed.

Come to think of it, Dhawan got the taste of what Rahul Dravid or Gautam Gambhir used to feel when they made way for Tendulkar. Pity the guy that his own crowd cheered for his wicket.

It is MS Dhoni, after all. He catches (pun not intended) everyone by surprise. He promoted Yuvraj Singh at No. 4. Yes, the same Yuvraj he had pushed down the order in the 2011 World Cup final. The cheers faded away when they saw Yuvraj walk in, his collar high, his head held aloft the way it has always been.

Come to think it, Yuvraj got the taste of what Dhawan felt. Come to think if, it was the only time when the fans did not celebrate the arrival of their very own Yuvraj.

***

Dhoni delayed the moment, the long-awaited moment the crowd had queued in for.

Though it was his last match as captain in Team India jersey, he was on a national duty. He must have had a game plan. And it is a warm-up match. Yuvraj, more than Dhoni, needed to spend some time in the middle. Dhoni was well aware of it.

There were fours, sixes, the vintage-Yuvraj strokes, but the moment was yet to come. This was not Yuvraj’s day. This day was about Dhoni.

***

40.3: Yuvraj pulls one over mid-wicket and reaches his fifty.

40.4: Yuvraj pulls again but gets only a run.

40.5: Rayudu pushes one to mid-off and reaches his 100, and starts walking towards the pavilion without much elation (come to think of it, how many times have you seen a batsman walk back unless it is the last ball of the innings?)

In a warm-up game, one can retire not out and let others bat. Rayudu did not want to become a villain, keeping Dhoni waiting in the dressing-room, especially since there was no biryani on offer. However, there was still a ball to go. Rayudu waited for the one delivery. The fans waited for the one delivery, before Dhoni walked in.

***

The moment. Dhoni, batting in Team India jersey as a captain for one last time, walked in.

Dhoni crossed the boundary line with his right foot — a ritual Indians have been following for years. Rayudu shook hands with him. The crowd chanted “Dhooo-ni, Dhoooo-ni…” at the top of their voice. Dhoni adjusted his gloves. The crowd danced in euphoria, for the moment had finally come.

***

The next episode was familiar. 64 off 40 was the same story all over. Dhoni hit fours. Dhoni ran hard between the wickets. Dhoni hit sixes. Dhoni reached his fifty. And above all, Dhoni remained unbeaten.

***

All this should not have happened. The fans should not have celebrated Dhawan’s wicket. The fans should not have shown disappointment at Yuvraj’s arrival. Rayudu should not have run towards the pavilion immediately after reaching 100. The crowd should not have flocked in to fill chunks of the gallery. A warm-up match should not have been telecasted. All this should not have happened, had Dhoni had not stepped down as the captain in limited-overs.

But, believe it or not, this happened:

Come to think of it, this was the last time Dhoni played a captain’s knock in Team India jersey.