Interview of Cricket Fans (ICF) – 11 – 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.

Thank you so much for your participation in this interview, When was the first time you saw MS Dhoni on tv? And when did you become a hardcore fan of him?

First and foremost thanks Jay for inviting me.
First time when I saw MSD on TV was the Ind-Pak WT20 2007 match at Durban. Dhoni scoring 30 odd something in that match and giving Robbie a chance to hit the stumps in a bowl out and I was like WOW, Captain trusting his batsman to hit the stumps.
And then I became his hardcore fan when he won the inaugural WT20 by defeating Pak in the final. Leading a young team into a mega event when no really expected them to win, against the odds he led the team exceptionally well that was the moment where I thought okay this man will bring more glories to Indian cricket.

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

He was exceptional, means a leader of his quality is tough to find in the modern days. We all Know how good a leader he was in LOI’s but in the whites too he hasn’t done any bad he averages what 40 something with the bat as a captain and the team did well till the transition period when the pillars of Indian cricket started to retire one by one Dravid to Sachin. Transition period is always very tough for any team and same happened with India and because of that the team didn’t performed upto the mark. But that won’t take anything away from his achievements as a test skipper. Taking the team to No. 1 rankings, completing whitewash (4-0) against the mighty Aussies in 2012-13. Winning a match at Lord’s in 2014. It’s just he was unbelievably good LOI’s captain so this reputation of him as a great LOI’s Captain overshadows him as the test skipper. Overall an instinctive leader who always led from the front who backed his players to come good and his achievements just proves how good a leader he was. I remember in one PC he was asked why Shikhar scores against the weak team and he said because no team is stronger than the Indian team. That’s how he was and he started the tradition of handing over the winning trophy to youngsters. A very great quality to have as leader.

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?

There are number of ways to look into this. If you’ll go by numbers then you would say Yes like Gilly/Sangakkara he should’ve played more up at the top of the order but it was under Dada where he batted in the top 3. Things changed when he became the Captain and he knew that the first role of the Captain is to be Selfless. He gave chances to the youngsters to bat ahead of him dropped himself down for team’s sake. Took the responsibility of finishing games for his country because he thought that a youngster may find it difficult to finish the games, so let them play at the top if anything goes wrong, he’s there to take the responsibility. That’s what separates him from the rest didn’t thought about his batting his records his numbers only thing in his mind was how he and his team can win more matches for his country. That was his main focus to build players to build a team for the future. And I don’t think it would’ve made huge difference leading and batting at number 3. Yes, he might have scored more runs batting at the top but because to give youngsters enough room to showcase their ability, he dropped himself down and ended becoming the greatest finisher World cricket has ever seen.

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

Ask anyone what’s one of the most toughest jobs in cricket and they’ll say finishing the games comes under one of those things. Before Dhoni, it was Bevan and Klusener who were very good in finishing the games for their respective country. But with MSD you see a evolved version of a finisher. His methods were very different from others but his methods gave him the desired results. Many criticise him for intentionally taking the game till the last over, but this is how he has finished so many games in the white ball Cricket because he’s someone who always believed in himself, backed his ability to take the team home.
2011 World Cup final that innings that six will top everyone’s list such was the occasion. And leaving that the tri series match vs SL in 2008 at Adelaide, he scored 50* to win a game, the Special part was he did that without hitting a single boundary. One match I can remember in 2009 vs WI, where he finished the game in the last over against Jerome Taylor, one shot that I can never forget was the gigantic six over the leg side. Some memories that.
The art of finishing is mastered by MSD, his composure, calculative approach just few things which makes him the greatest finisher of all time.

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?

First of all we need to understand the difference between a captain and a leader. A captain is one who expects his team to produce results and a leader is one who’ll lead from the front and MSD was a leader who always used to take onus on himself, the quality of a good leader is how you manage your players, the ability to back his players even if they weren’t performing, Dhoni will give them a pat in the back and will make them realise that yes you belong to this level that’s why you’re in the team. That’s how you can get the best out of your player. Virat, Rohit, Raina all are prime examples of that.
Adding to his leadership qualities the ability to read the game to make things happen,out of the box thinking and a cool head on his shoulders with a computerized Brain.
He’s the Best example of handling the success and failure, you can’t really judge anything by looking at his face, doesn’t like to show his emotions on the field at the end of the day he’ll come out with a gentle on his smile and that’s all, that’s MSD for you. In a country like India where the fans are so passionate about the game, where cricket is celebrated as a festival, it takes more efforts than climbing a Mt. Everest for an Indian captain (to be specific) to lead and produce results for his country.

What are the things that you learnt from MS Dhoni?

He’s my Idol since my childhood days only I wanted to be like him. As my Father too is big fan of cricket and MSD, he used to tell me about his early days in international cricket(2004-2007) I used to listen very patiently about him, his journey and then after 2007 WT20 Triumph, I started following him more, started following cricket to be honest after that the things I’ve learnt from him is not to loose your cool in the toughest of the situations no matter what you should never ever loose your cool when the whole world is watching you and you’re carrying the burden of expectations of million Countrymen, still maintaining that attitude of yours over the years is difficult and that’s what I’ve learnt from him. The other thing is don’t let others decide your fate. He taught me that you should not be bothered about what others say or think about you. He taught me that no matter how successful you’re, be gentle be kind to others whether he/she’s your well-wisher or hater. Treat all of them in one manner. As he said I want people to remember me as a good person not as a good cricketer. So, I’m trying to replicate the same things in my life although it’s very difficult to match his level still I’ll try my best. And if I can be 0.0001% of my Idol then it’ll be a big achievement for me.

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?

I can’t forget that day when he stepped down as the captain of the team I think it was 4th of January 2017 and was an absolute shocker of a decision for me because there was a Champions Trophy to happen in the same year. And after Virat took over he Said MS will bat at 4, reason is we know how good he can be while batting in the top 4. But unfortunately he didn’t get as many chances as he would like after that. And yeah everyone was so excited when Virat made that call to play him at 4 and thought now MSD can bat freely without much of a pressure on him, but Yuvi made a comeback he batted at 4, did well to cement his spot and again the same show- MS walking as an finisher. As you grow old you need time as a batter that’s why he should’ve played more at 4 till the end of the world Cup. But sadly didn’t happened in that way due to various reasons. So, yeah Unfortunate but can’t really much do about that.

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?

BLANK in bold capital letters. Yesterday, one of my Twitter Mutuals tagged me and asked is this true? Is MSD retied I said what, so he said check his Insta and when I saw that post I thought ughh someone has hacked his account because I don’t expect MSD to call it off with a video, not his style so I said delete that post it’s a fake news. After few minutes my friend called me up he was crying on the call said MSD officially has retired from international cricket. And I was like bro chill, his account is hacked no need to panic but then he told me that Sakshi ma’am also commented on that post and when I checked that I was speechless, didn’t said anything for 10 mins, tear came out of my eyes, it was an very very emotional moment, to be Frank with you THE WORST thing happened with me till now in my life. Didn’t slept last night thinking about that Post ‘Consider me retired’ 1929 hours. Why he retired, he’s as fit as anyone still can tonk the ball whenever he wants, so why there was an urgency to retire, questions kept coming on my mind. Didn’t ate at all, was an sleepless night after all he’s my role model, so how much I cried how was or how is the feeling it can’t be said in words. Only thing is Cricket will not be the same sport for me after this and I don’t think how much time it’ll take for me to come out of this. Those who know me understands my affection my love towards him. I’m Still in disbelief that he did that and following him Raina did the same and it was 2 setbacks for one day tough to digest. Only one good thing that I learnet from this too was you need a True Friend like Suresh Raina in your life. I can’t say anything more I’m sorry. I just can’t help myself. One concluding point is my life won’t be the same after his retirement. That’s all.

THANK YOU so much for reading my article. If you liked it, do follow me on Twitter – @bhavsarj2_0 for more Cricket related content.

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