The Supergiants may or may not rise for Pune. But, their biggest star may set. Sooner or later. When Mahendra Singh Dhoni decides to move on, Pune will have no power to stop him. Except for the reigns hidden in the BCCI IPL contract.
“He (Dhoni) is not someone to run after money. He does everything for a purpose. If he is playing he takes pride in performance. But that pride is not bigger for his than his team’s success. He will make or break friends for his team’s cause. He will not hang around at any position for money. That has not mattered to him even when he was away from the glare and iconic status,” one of Dhoni’s close confidantes has told InsideSport on condition of anonymity.
The Dhoni-RPS deals stands at Rs 12.5 crores in monetary terms. How much can that weigh for binding or breaking the ties. Not much. The man is already serving his contract. The man will not compromise with his class on the field. Pune can’t afford to go without him.
But, people who understand Dhoni well swear that nothing will stop Mr Cool, if he makes a calculated move to move hone. To act in haste his not his style.
Others are out to grab the opportunity. The team that Dhoni served with utmost commitment and affinity for eight years is set for an IPL return next year after a two-year hiatus. Dhoni is already the top priority for Chennai Super Kings. The franchisee owner N Srinivasan is expressive about that fact that having their biggest star back will be the top priority of CSK. “If you are a CSK fan and are a cricket aficionado, you want to see MS Dhoni leading the side again in 2018. You want him to walk out wearing yellow. There is every possibility of that happening and next year we will be back with a bang. The absence from the competition has not affected the CSK brand at all,” Srinivasan has said last week.
That’s the acceptability for Dhoni the cricketer. That’s the acceptability for Dhoni the cricketer.
Acceptability for Dhoni the leader was evident when Ajinkya Rahane addressed the Press Conference after Pune’s victory in the first match. “Steve Smith has given Australia a very good lead. But Dhoni is still the best leader for me. This was the first game under the captaincy of Smith, but he was still learning from Dhoni. People should not compare Dhoni and Smith’s captaincy. Dhoni is still a world class player.”
No doubt, team is rallying behind the man, who is a leader in true sense.
The Supergiant of Indian cricket, Dhoni has once in an informal chat with reporters said he would quit playing for either of the two reasons. One. He stops enjoying his cricket. Two. He feels he has no room for himself in the team.
Mahi is enjoying his cricket as much as he has ever, or always, enjoyed. No doubt about that. So he will continue on Count One. That second reason might prevail for now. But that’s very specific to play, or not to play, for the Pune IPL team. There is more acceptance for him in the Indian Premier League space, than a rejection by one odd person – read Harsh Goenka, brother of Pune team owner Sanjeev Goenka – in the RPS corporate set up.
Harsh must be feeling the power of Dhoni the icon with sharp reactions to his attempts to ridicule the man who is well established at the pinnacle of Indian cricket for over a decade now. He has faced severe criticism following his tweet on Dhoni after the Pune-based Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise defeated Mumbai Indians by seven wickets in their first match. Harsh, who has been the chairman of RPG Enterprises, had praised RPS captain Steve Smith after his match-winning knock on April 5 but also made comments about Dhoni, which was not appreciated by the Twitterati. Harsh was trolled brutally for his tweets.
Harsh deleted his tweet. But the bitterness prevailed. The spat that has started with sacking of Dhoni as the RPS captain resurfaced after Pune team’s loss to King’s XI Punjab.
This time he returned to the twitter with the match statistics of Pune batsmen. Only to be ridiculed further by the battery of Dhoni supporters.
— Harsh Goenka (@hvgoenka) April 8, 2017
— Dhoni My Hero (@MSDIAN7) April 8, 2017
The extinguisher to douse the spark that’s ignited by Harsh only and only rests with Dhoni. The man who believes to respond by his acts. And, not words. The day he acts, Pune will be the biggest loser. For Mahi. There is acceptance in the IPL market. The market that’s driven by performances. There is acceptance in brand world. The world that’s driven by fan following that transforms a celebrity into an icon. Harsh’s slamming by the Dhoni fans has re-established the fact that this smiling giant is and will remain an icon for Indian cricket lovers. Till he himself decides to fade away from this glitter.