When fate and destiny play their hand

It may be complete nonsense, but there are hundreds of millions of people in the world who believe in fate and destiny. They believe in pre-determined outcomes and the turning of life’s wheel.

MS Dhoni may, or may not, be one of those people. He has certainly portrayed that image in his decade on the international stage. Victory and defeat have been treated equally, neither with excess joy or sadness. He has reacted with a calmness to both which suggests there was little he could do to change the result, apart from try his hardest.

There is an amusing anecdote about the bleakest period in India’s playing history under his captaincy before he walked away from the Test job midway through a belting from Australia.

It started in England where the Indians, almost habitually, were being thrashed and humiliated. Except, Dhoni was neither humiliated nor even embarrassed. He was barely moved by his team losing Test matches in three days and ODIs by hundreds of runs. Criticism was vitriolic and fulsome, yet he never rose to the bait. Three South Africans in the change room, head coach Gary Kirsten, bowling mentor Eric Simons and mental conditioner Paddy Upton, were all surprised at his placid demeanour.

Surely some of the nastier comments would rile him? At some point was he not likely to hit back?

The UK press are notoriously merciless, but when some England players joined in the rout – Kevin Pietersen prominent among them – the time was surely right for Dhoni to stick up for himself…or at least for his team mates. No.

His stubbornness can be infuriating. Sometimes he appears to care nothing for the hundreds of millions of people who worship him. He endorses anything, from underwear to watches, deodorant to whisky, and insurance. He is a billionaire in any currency.

Yet his attitude to cricket is, and probably always will be, a mystery.

A year after India’s drubbing in England, the English were handed a similar hiding in India. Minutes after hitting the winning runs in the final game, Dhoni followed the England players back into their change room and shook them by the hand, thanking them for the series.

When he botched the run chase in the first ODI of this series, he calmly admitted his culpability. Brave people were questioning his relevance in the team at the age of 34. He brushed it off. He appears to have known all his life that what comes around, goes around. So the 92 not out he lashed from 86 balls when his team were 124-6 more than atoned for the botched run chase in the first ODI in Kanpur.

Brilliant work by Kagiso Rabada it may have been, but the harder job may be denying Dhoni’s destiny-determined career swansong.

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