Did MS Dhoni really cross the line?

Sports seldom goes out of fashion on television networks because of its ability to produce unscripted drama.

Thursday night’s sensational spectacle in the last over of the CSK-RR match is a great case in point. No amount of inspired writing could have come up with such twists and turns.

Ben Stokes’ overs had everything: Two sixers- one of them mighty funny with both the batsman and bowler sprawled on the ground (shout-out to Dhoni’s drumming Jaddu on the helmet for not running),, and the other nerve-on-edge last–ball-clincher, a wicket, a wide, a no-ball, a no-ball that wasn’t a no-ball and the kerfuffle around it.

Let’s talk about the controversy part. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been fined 50% of his match fees and has been condemned by many for marching into the field and angrily disputing with the umpires.

AFP Photo/Sajjad HUSSAIN

So did Dhoni’s actions deserve such opprobrium?

Is it worse than some players usings coarse cuss words under the guise of harmless banter and mental aggression?

Well, it’s debatable.

But if you put Dhoni’s action in its natural context, you may end up being a bit more charitable to him.

One, of course, it was a pulsating contest, and Dhoni, as a batsman, had done all he could to take his team to the doorstep of an improbable victory before he was cleaned up by Stokes in the last over,

And the next delivery, the no-ball and no-no-ball fiasco unravels on the field.

Being right on the boundary line, and adrenaline still gushing vigorously inside him, Dhoni instinctively storms into the field to take up the matter with the on-field umpires. Such a thing has seldom happened before. But Dhoni’s was surely a spur of the moment reaction and not a planned act of cussedness. A passionate captain and a spirited player was just letting his emotions take over him, which is not a crime.

In fact, the public and sports administrators want players to show more emotion and be animated on the field and not be zombies.

Dhoni looked impassioned, but at no point did he look petulant or peevish. He was debating a point, not ramming his authority as a captain (and his stature as “Dhoni”) down the umpires’ throats.

At any rate, what was happening on the field begged for clarity. One umpire signals it a no-ball and another signals it not. It was pandemonium out there, and the commentators also seemed clueless- they said as much on air. Dhoni just rushed in to figure out what was happening. His mistake was overzealousness, and for that he has copped a fine. The spirit of cricket was in no way undermined. In fact, the spirit of spontaneity was upheld.  

After all the excitement on the field, Dhoni was back to his easy-going, ice-cool captain persona at the post-match presentation. He was even ready to explain his version of events, but the host Murali Karthik, for some inexplicable reason, didn’t ask.

That, ladies and gentlemen, was perhaps the biggest crime of the night- and hardly Dhoni’s fault.

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