IPL 2022 was waiting for MS Dhoni, as were all Yellow Army fans in particular and cricket fans in general. Never has there been a finisher of this calibre and all the talk of how he was past his prime were blown away with the last four balls of the Chennai Super Kings (CSK)-Mumbai Indians (MI) contest at the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai on Thursday night. The monk-like calm of MSD was a scary sight and MI left-armer Jaydev Unadkat knew he was in for a test as he came down to try and inflict a coup-de-gras on a CSK side that seemed to have left it too late.

Dhoni knew he had enough time. In fact, it seemed he knew what was happening and how it would all pan out. After Unadkat trapped Dwaine Pretorius in front off the first delivery, his namesake and CSK veteran Dwayne Bravo had simple instructions from the former skipper give me the strike.

Bravo duly took the single and after that, it was surreal. It wasn’t like Dhoni knew where Unadkat would bowl it was more like he was telling the MI seamer to land the cricket ball where he wanted it. Then, 6, 4, 2, 4 and it was all over.

As the DY Patil Stadium exploded in yellow, the man of the moment seemed to be in a zone of peace and composure. There were no histrionics, no exultation. The man duly shook hands with the rivals and teammates, had a few words of encouragement for the youngsters from both sides and disappeared into the dressing room.

The rest were in awe. CSK skipper Ravindra Jadeja made to touch his feet while young Mumbai Indians spinner Hritik Shokeen shook Dhoni’s hand with reverence. But even through all the accolades and hugs from teammates and officials, Dhoni seemed to be in another world.

The statistics of how many times Dhoni has finished in the last over with more than 10 runs to get show that he is about 150 per cent more effective than the closest rivals. His ability is not restricted to IPL cricket he has been at it for India for as long as we can recall.

In all of this, as he walked out, there could also be a little bit of hurt pride. Dhoni has been criticised for trying to do Jadeja’s job on the field, for not being the same batsman. Even on Thursday, he missed a regulation stumping opportunity.

But at the end of the evening, he did what he does best. He connived to get Kieron Pollard dismissed with an astute fielding placement, then took to the bat with CSK looking in trouble.

The rest we all saw. And will keep seeing in our minds for a very long time.

(This copy was first published on india.com)