Just when you assume MS Dhoni has no more retirements to make, he will hurl one at you, out of the blue. Few know why Dhoni takes these out-of-the-blue actions so seriously – it’s really down to that "bleed blue" and blue Indian jersey.
In his roundabout way, after his retirement from Test cricket, Dhoni said to no one in particular and everyone in particular, for such is the man’s charisma: “People ask me, why you have retired out of the blue. Well, it is something like this: I am retiring from whites, but first and foremost I bleed blue. So, even when I retire from Test cricket, I am actually retiring from the blue…you can say, out of the blue…yes, you can say, I am out of the blue…team in a way…white, blue are just colours, white is blue and blue is white actually, it’s how you choose to look at it.”
There are so many such incidents it’s impossible to keep tabs on Dhoni's witticisms. And like the one above, they often come, out of the blue, when you least expect them.
Another theory doing the rounds is that Dhoni’s ascent has been no less than out-of-the-blue, and it is something of a life lesson for him. Ironically, this is something that has happened more by design, than default.
Whether it is winning that 2007 World T-20 which took us all by storm and surprise in equal measure – opening with Yusuf Pathan in the finals or that Joginder Sharma over. They were all shrewd, calculated moves, designed to appear out-of-the-blue and give the opposition either a false sense of security or a real sense of victory.
Or as the case may be, a bizarre sense of bafflement. When all three combine, they produce in Dhoni’s words, “The Big Bang out of the blue theory – that is, do it but do it like you want to…not like he wants you to… and even if he is actually feeling…okay, this is nice…deep down he knows, this is not so nice for me because there is some plan being hatched that I am not aware of and it appears like this Big Bang out of the blue theory. But we have our cards close to the chest, so he cannot tell really…it’s best to be pokerfaced all the time, so you don’t give away anything at all.”
Dhoni’s by now legendary take-it-to-the-50th over of an ODI is almost a study in contrast to his out-of-the-blue theory. But it’s not so. It is a twist to the original theory.
Not many know that Dhoni can be both a prankster and a punster. He calls this the “out-of-the-blew it”. When asked if this has anything to do with former Australian cricketer, Greg Blewett, a deadpan Dhoni says, “Itni angrezi nahi ati humko.”
Basically the "out of the blew it" is all about the opposition blowing it up; based on the assumption that the deeper one takes the game, sooner rather than later, the bowler will blink – and that is when the batsman (in this case, Dhoni) jumps.
Apparently, taking the chase to the final over is not something he enjoys terribly. And believe it or not, he has to do a lot of play acting to appear cool.
“Actually I am putting lot more effort into appearing cool than anything else…well, of course, it is important to be have match awareness and all that, but, at times, having less match awareness can be quite helpful too…you forget about everything and stay cool”, leaving pretty much everyone dumbfounded.
Dhoni continues, “It’s like this: my explanation took you by surprise, so often is my reaction to the first ball of the 50th over…often bowlers expect that in a tricky chase the batsman will try and target him for six off the first ball. I’m not that desperate to win the match of the first ball, I’m prepared to take it to the sixth ball if need be. Chances are, the bowler will concentrate a lot on that first ball – his focus will be good and it could be the toughest of the six deliveries to hit for six. Of course, there’s no denying that it could be a six-wallah ball also. But I am not going to leave my crease or run down the wicket or do something crazy to throw the bowler off or give him that extra second to know that he should change his delivery…I am working more on staying cool, staying still, waiting, in my crease, and seeing, what has he got for me - rasgulla or barfi or jalebi. Then, I'm ready for whatever sweet offering he will make to me…and that’s how those sixes happen out of the blue in the last over. I enjoy them a lot, of course. That’s why I like to keep my pose and just watch the ball go. Of course, it’s important to remain cool even then even if you are excited, because you don’t want the bowler to know it’s a big deal, really."
Going by all that Dhoni has to say, his latest announcement, while appearing, yet again, totally out of the blue, was far from it. Possibly that’s the big deal with Dhoni, he just works real hard to make it seem like it’s no big deal at all. Simply, out of the blue.
(However plausible this may sound, this is largely a work of fiction.)