Understanding MS Dhoni: Bharat Sundaresan tries to decode the former Indian captain in his book ‘The Dhoni Touch’

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  • In Bharat Sundaresan’s new book The Dhoni Touch, he looks into the thinking and method used by the former Indian captain on the cricketing field
  • One of the incidents that the book covers is the 2008 Commonwealth Bank Series match against Australia at MCG
  • Dhoni, leading the side for the first time on an international assignment, didn’t want Australia to think that this was any sort of fluke

MS Dhoni is known as one of the coolest and calmest players to have graced the cricketing field in recent memory. The Former Indian captain’s thinking process and methods have been widely discussed in Bharat Sundaresan’s new book called The Dhoni Touch.

In his book, Bharat Sundaresan recalls the match between Australia and India in February 2008 in the Commonwealth Bank Series at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. After dismissing the hosts for 159 runs, India needed just 10 runs with Dhoni and Rohit Sharma at the crease and it was at that time Dhoni called for a change of gloves and took that opportunity to send a message to the dressing room. Leading the side for the first time on an international assignment Dhoni’s message to the pavilion was simple ‘Nobody will celebrate on the balcony once we win this match.’

Dhoni knew victory against Australia in 2008 was just a start for his team India

MS Dhoni wasn’t done, as India got inched closer to the title, the 37-year-old as constantly in young Rohit Sharma’s ears telling him how he needed to conduct himself sharing pleasantries with the opposition once they had won the match.

The thought process behind muted celebration was very simple, at that Australia were the World Champions and nearly unbeatable, therefore a defeat for them always looked like an upset. Dhoni, realising the scenario and the change in momentum didn’t want his players to give an indication to the opposition that they had achieved something truly amazing rather he wanted the Australian to realise that this defeat wasn’t just a fluke rather it was going to turn into a norm in the future.

“This was Mahi’s way of saying it’s no big deal. My bowlers got them all out for 160 and we are chasing it down, usme kaunse badi baat hai (there’s no big deal in it). If we celebrate wildly, the Aussies will be vindicated in their belief that this was an upset. We wanted to tell them that this is not a fluke. This is going to happen over and over again. The Aussies simply couldn’t handle it. They were shaken,” a player from that squad revealed much later.

Eventually, India not only won the match but later went on to win the Commonwealth Bank series, an indication to everyone what MS Dhoni could achieve with calmness and without going overboard, like the teams in the past would have done had they defeated the mighty Australians in their own backyard.

Aggressive behaviour on the field could do more harm than good 

As per Dhoni, aggression on the field is fine till it stays within a certain boundary. Going personal and using abusive words will be far more harmful to the person saying it rather than the one being subjected to it. Saying something vile and derogatory on the field, could leave a lasting effect on the performance performing the act.

There is an excerpt from the book, where one of Dhoni’s closest friends talks about his thought process on the field. He says, “Goli maarta hai apne style mein (He shoots in his own style.) He says the problem is if I allow my boys to give maa–behen ki gaali (swear words involving someone’s mother or sister); it’s they and not the one being subjected to it who’ll feel the pinch of what they’ve done for the rest of the day.

He doesn’t believe in overt displays of aggression. He believes that if you want to hurt them, do it in your style, not in their way. If they believe in swearing, you don’t need to do it.”

The series against Australia back in 2008 was Dhoni’s first international assignment leading team India but over the last decade, hardly anything has changed in the World Cup-winning captain’s demeanour. Even while playing under the captaincy of Virat Kohli, whose personality is 360 degree opposite to Dhoni’s, the wicket-keeper batsman has managed to exude calmness on the field.

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