By Shashank Saurav:
Before starting this discussion let me ask you a simple question. Who or What is the face of Indian Cricket?
Is it the BCCI, Sharad Pawar the new ICC president or the Indian Premier League? Well I guess most of you will refute my opinion by saying that no person other than Sachin Tendulkar can be the face of Indian Cricket. But mull over it. With MS Dhoni signing a multi million-dollar deal that has created a record of sorts simply in terms of the astronomical amount involved, I believe the time for change of order, which was being speculated, has come.
The news that MS Dhoni has snapped up a three-year endorsement deal with Rhiti Sports Management and Mindscapes One worth nearly Rs 200 crore, is making headlines everywhere. It is the biggest deal endorsed by an Indian sports person and has taken him past Sachin Tendulkar in the corporate contract sweepstakes. Tendulkar held the corporate contract crown earlier, thanks to a Rs 180 crore deal with sports management firm Iconix for three years in 2006. It represents the signature style in which Dhoni runs his singles, scores his fifties and gets married as well. He deserves to be in the race for the newsmaker of the year although its ironic that he had tried his level best to hide his marriage with his teenage sweetheart from the media.
The point however is that the coin is now flipping in Dhoni’s favor. He is the “Captain Cool” in all three versions of the game. His game also seems evenly poised. He raised his IPL team Chennai Super Kings to the status of the champion. Blame it on circumstances, but there too his team defeated Mumbai Indians that was led by Sachin Tendulkar. Taking nothing away from Sachin, the fact remains that whenever the situation arises it is Dhoni who grabs the mantle and emerges victorious.
We saw an exemplary display of this quality when he lifted the first T20 world cup. The series victory over Aussies Down Under was another momentous occasion. Similarly, he deserves accolades for making India the no. 1 test team through sustained effort. Credit also has to be given for nearly raising India to the numero uno status in ODI. As for the individual achievements, his current ranking in ODI (1) says more than enough about his terrific form and knack of scoring runs.
That was for the on field events. Off the field too he remains a motley character known for his penchant for staying away from controversies unlike some of his contemporaries. Some time back he was considered the ideal bachelor having enough female admirers to win an election. Besides all this, even while interacting with the media he does not equivocate. He lauds the team on good performance or takes the blame if necessary. That is one of the many reasons explaining his ability to extract the maximum out of each player.
Sachin will always remain the “greatest batsman ever” for scoring so many runs. Nevertheless, all these records do not necessarily make him the face of Indian cricket. What we are looking at is the present. And presently Dhoni has surged ahead of Sachin in terms of performances and brand value while their popularity seems evenly balanced.
If India goes on to win the World Cup under his leadership it would truly epitomize Dhoni as the Poster Boy of Indian cricket. It would act as an Icing to the cake which in this case is MS Dhoni’s career.
The writer is a Correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz and also a student of BITS Pilani, Goa Campus.