इंडियन आवाज़     06 Dec 2023 12:25:00      انڈین آواز


Even in the various felicitation functions afterwards, Tendulkar is the prominent figure next to all the dignitaries and officials.

Lost in all this hero-worshipping was the man who actually guided the team throughout the victorious campaign and played a stellar role when needed the most in the final – skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni himself.

Just before the trophy presentation on Saturday, the players were waiting on the dais with ICC president Sharad Pawar while Dhoni was speaking to Ravi Shastri.

But what they did not realise was that they had surrounded the trophy and sat down in front of it, forcing Dhoni to come from behind and get covered up by his teammates and the showers of champagne while the trophy was presented to him.

Even before the presentation, while the team was giving Tendulkar and coach Gary Kirsten laps of honour in front of 33,000 cheering fans at the Wankhede Stadium while sitting on the youngsters’ shoulders, Dhoni was conspicuous by his absence.

Yuvraj Singh and Harbhajan Singh let out their emotions in the form of tears of joy while Dhoni disappeared, presumably to change out of his sweaty batting gear, and then reappeared wearing a sleeveless jumper and his India cap.

Was it the large-heartedness on Dhoni’s part to let his teammates take the spotlight or the infamous Mumbai lobby at play? After all, with Mumbai lad Tendulkar having the ” greatest moment of his life” on his home turf, along with ICC president Pawar and tournament director Ratnakar Shetty in charge of the event, such suspicions can come to mind.

The bizarre sequence did not end there. Cut to the felicitation ceremony at the Raj Bhavan in Mumbai hosted by President Pratibha Patil. Initially, Dhoni met her and accepted congratulations, before introducing her to his victorious teammates.

And yet, when the time came for the group photo with the President, the assembled political and business bigwigs and the trophy, Dhoni was once again nowhere in sight.

After the first few snaps, Dhoni suddenly appears and slots in behind Yusuf Pathan and Piyush Chawla, made easier to spot only by his new bald dome.

The only time Dhoni is the centre of all attention is when he poses with the trophy in front of the Gateway of India, decked up immaculately in a suit bearing the BCCI logo and with ‘captain’ written under it.

Contrast this with the memories, the videos and the pictures of the 1983 World Cup that are etched in the minds of all Indians.

The only man in the spotlight then was Kapil Dev, and he remains so to this day, with the team’s moniker, ‘ Kapil’s Devils’ still in use. And this was despite the presence of another Mumbai legend, Sunil Gavaskar, in his team.

In fact, when the 25th anniversary of this victory was celebrated at Lord’s on the June 25, 2008, Kapil was still the man at the centre of the pictures, still the main focus of all group discussions and still the man with the Prudential Cup in his hands.

And mind you, this reunion came at a time when Kapil and a lot of his teammates had been virtually excommunicated from the cricket community by the BCCI, owing to the key roles they were playing in the rebel Indian Cricket League.

One certainly hopes that when footage of Saturday’s victory is aired in the years to come, the future generations don’t have to wonder who the captain lifting the Cup in the shadows was.

Courtesy India Today



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