Interview of Cricket Fans (ICF) – 10 – MS Dhoni

“Dhoni, Dhoni!!!!!! Dhoni, Dhoni!!!!!! If you can hear these words in the form of crowds shouting their hearts out to a man who has made this country proud, then you are a fan of a certain Cricketer from Ranchi who dared to dream big, and that’s what he did. Mahendra Singh Dhoni, is the reason we won the 2007 inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the reason that led to the birth of Indian Premier League. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the reason we became number 1 in test rankings and Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the reason we won the 2011 ICC World Cup. He is the reason India slept well on the night of April 2, 2011.

I got the opportunity to interview one of the biggest Dhoni fan and share his thoughts on arguably one of the greatest white-ball captain in cricketing history.

When was the first time you saw MS Dhoni on tv? And when did you become a hardcore fan of him?

I saw the young Dhoni smashing Srilankan bowlers all around on his way to 183* .. I was literally wishing him to break Saeed Anwar’s record of 194 but due to Venogopal Rao’s interference he couldn’t do it.

I became his fan when I saw a story of him asking players not to celebrate victory against Australia in 2007 Wt20 .. just to show the world that Aussies are not a threat to world cricket anymore and can be beaten easily. I connected with after that. I started thinking exactly like him and it helped me a lot in my life too.

How would you describe Dhoni’s captaincy in tests, in ODI’s and in T20s?

Dhoni in tests: It’s said that Luck favours the brave but dhoni wasn’t very lucky in later part of his test journey. Started as a part time captain due to Anil Kumble’s lack of presence.. I still remember how he used to toss the ball at Amit Mishra and he used to take important wickets during 2008 Border gavaskar trophy. But as seniors decided to hang boots.. so do Dhoni’s luck faded away in tests but I still think he retired way too soon in tests. But that’s how Mahi is.

Odis : He is by far the most successful ODI captain in my eyes. He was tailor made for that format. He knows when to stop, when to go and when to go full throttle. No wonder winning WC final was a cakewalk for him

T20s : I always believe t20s are not all about youngsters. Mahi started his captaincy journey by winning it with a young team but as soon as he started to change his approach in odis and other longer formats that showed a significant slow down in his t20 captaincy too. But thanks to god he forced India and youngsters to learn to play the short ball (after 2009 wt20 debacle) and thus India is performing good overseas

Had MS Dhoni not demoted himself in the batting line-up from number 3 to number 7 in white ball format, do you think we would have still won the 2011 World Cup as well as Champions Trophy 2013? Do you think captaincy could affect him at that number 3 position?

Very tricky one but I would say I have seen best of the batting formats topple in pressure situations. And what would’ve happen that day can be very well guessed from 2019 SF where Dhoni came late and all the pressure was on him to maintain strike rate and protect wickets. So yes many thing could’ve changed in 2011 but we can only guess

Your thoughts on MS Dhoni as a finisher? Mention couple of your favourite knocks in the white ball format.

It doesn’t matter how you start, what matters is how you finish it. Thus finisher position is very important. We always lacked a good one and Mahi sacrificed yet again his position to came down in the later half of the innings. I still thing had he batted up in the order he would’ve definitely got more runs under his belt. Favourite innings was against Pakistan when team was at 29 for 6 something and Mahi ended up with a respectable total and a 100.

Captaining an Indian Cricket Team is as tough as climbing Mount Everest. And when India weren’t doing well, there must have been tremendous pressure on him which may have affected his mental health too. Your thoughts on this?

Not everyday you see some 30 year old with white hair and white beard. His mental state is very strong yet he was affected by each and everyone of us mocking or appreciating him and we can see that in his retirement video. We Indians always need a scapegoat to blame someone and he fits the criteria very well too. A finisher .. who if win the match then his whole team will be credited and if lost then he will be the one to be blamed. He never came out in public about his critics thus it gave everyone of us a chance to pound him with hate and criticism.

What are the things that you learnt from MS Dhoni?

MAHENDRA SINGH DHONI.. he is everything to me. Right from my twitter password to my net-banking password. I have fought to my girlfriends and friends when they show their hate for them. I have learnt to choose my battles carefully from him. I have learnt to remain silent if it’s ur fault. I have learnt how to give you 100% and never expect anything. I have learnt to not bow in front of anyone just because u have to. I have learnt how to protect my juniors and respect my seniors. I have learnt how not to show my emotions right there right now as people might use it against you.

When MS Dhoni retired from white-ball captaincy in 2017, everyone thought we would see the old MS back, unfortunately it was the opposite of that. What was the reason behind this mindset in your opinion?

You can change yourself once or twice but not more than that. From being a flamboyant opener for many teams to hard hitting number 3-4 for India to a more experienced and sensible middle order wicket keeper batsman Dhoni had changed himself a lot. I think the IPL ban lead to his mental breakdown. That’s what affected his captaincy too. So when he quit captaincy I thought that he might be to his old best but team still required a sensible finisher and that’s why Dhoni didn’t go all guns blazing in odis and t20s.

When you first read the caption of Dhoni’s post on Instagram – “Thanks a lot for your love and support throughout. From 1929 hrs consider me as Retired” what was going on in your mind?

A friend in DM group tagged me and said Mahi has announced retirement. I thought he must be lying. But when I checked out his insta post. I couldn’t even watch his whole video I read the caption closed it and felt numb. I really wanted him to do well in Ipl and then in wt20 in India. But covid and god had other plans. I am happy that he will be more publicly available now and thus I also stand a chance to meet him. But for me one thing will always remain incomplete.

What if Dhoni didn’t get run out that day in SF.. he would’ve definitely finished it.

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