Pop-culture has played an important role over the years. It has shaped the youth, educated them and sometimes got them to believe that things, which are impossible, can be done if tried.
And, perhaps, very few characters have managed to leave an impression as big as Bob Kane and Bill Finger's 'Batman'. The Caped Crusader managed to bring hope amidst the darkness in the mad city of Gotham and much like him, a certain boy from Jharkhand, managed to do so in India -- a country crazy for the gentleman's game.
Bruce Wayne's journey from the boy who was helpless and watched his parents getting murdered to the protector of his city is miles apart from what Mahendra Singh Dhoni has done in the real world but if comics are anything to go by -- Dhoni's innings in cricket is nothing short of Batman's in the world of fiction -- from the realm of the unknown to the best in the business.
"Our greatest glory is not in ever falling, but in rising every time we fall" -- this is one of the famous lines from the Dark Knight and as days pass, Dhoni, an equally imposing figure, continues to live that in reality.
MS, who perhaps the cricket world believes, writes his own scripts, has time and again risen from the ashes. His ability to stay calm and take matches till the end and do the unthinkable has long been termed as 'madness' but sometimes it's only madness that makes you what we are and Dhoni perhaps is guided by the thrill of the unknown.
Dhoni on Sunday once again took the game till the end for Chennai Super Kings against an upbeat Royal Challengers Bangalore led by Virat Kohli. He failed in the end but scoring 24 out of 26 in the last over and sending a shiver down the spine of Kohli was a proof that the man hasn't lost it and remains CSK and India's most potent finisher.
When the top-order failed for the current champions, Dhoni came in and steadied the ship. Going was tough. Dale Steyn was firing cannonballs and Yuzvendra Chahal spinning webs but the cool head and curved willow somehow managed to see it through and almost pull off the unthinkable. That's the thing with Dhoni, you know what he will do but never know how and even his closest apprentice looked in dismay as the master was at it at the Chinnaswamy.
Dhoni's knock against RCB proved that he is Chennai and why he is what he is to the city. Without him, they look like deers grazing around, with him -- lions prowling.
Taking matches till the end and then going on to take his team over the line became a trademark for the former India captain but as he grew old, the hair whitened, his powers alluded him. From being the most cheered to being booed at Lord's, Dhoni was finished, people believed. Drop him some said, let him guide Rishabh Pant, said others, but he hung on and was helped by Virat Kohli there and once again, we are seeing a renaissance of one of the most unorthodox yet successful players in the history of the game.
Dhoni is bigger than the game in India many would say and it was always going to be difficult to throw him away from the side most would argue but in a time, it was looking increasingly likely, Kohli's persistence with the old head showed the mutual respect and how much the current India skipper looks up to the former. Dhoni has been the guiding light for Kohli in his captaincy stint so far. As Kohli marshalls the boundaries, Dhoni continues to guide the bowlers and read the game from behind the stumps -- like very few if I may add. And, on times when Dhoni was out, Kohli's struggle showed and as the World Cup came near, letting go someone of Dhoni's calibre was something Kohli and India couldn't afford and the Kohli perhaps knew it more than anybody else.
But, was captaincy ever an issue anyway? No! It was his batting but now once again, Dhoni is showing signs of regaining his lost art with CSK and it couldn't be better news for India.
The 37-year-old, many would say, always performs for Chennai but fails for India -- 2018 would be the best example. Dhoni slammed 455 runs from 16 games and led CSK to IPL glory on their return to the tournament but failed miserably in England just after. 2019 also has the same schedule with the World Cup following right after the IPL but as the tournament comes along, Dhoni remains India's biggest hope along with Kohli.
Dhoni's credentials will again be questioned if he fails in a few games but he has already lived long enough for some to call him a villain and as the biggest test of his career comes along in few months time, much like Batman, he would do whatever his team needs him to do in their bid for a third World Cup and there will always be hope as long as MSD is out there in the middle.