Watching Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s career graph can make any one believe in miracles. The man with the Midas touch has been a revelation to experts ever since he arrived on the scene.
Dhoni’s success did not come overnight. Nor was his selection in the Indian team a fluke. He had been playing the Ranji Trophy for Bihar from 2000. But where Dhoni’s fate was different from that of others like him was the introduction of the Talent Resource Development Wing (TRDW) of the BCCI. No one noticed talent in his zone, which tended to promote players from one state, something the then selection committee chairman Kiran More objected to.
TRD officers P.C. Podar and Raju Mukherjee were scavenging for talent, hopping from one match to another in Jamshedpur during the Ranji one-dayers in 2003-04.
They came across a 22-year-old opener who was whacking bowlers all over the place. They promptly fed their assessments on the National Cricket Academy website and the chief TRDO Dilip Vengsarkar strongly recommended Dhoni for the India ‘A’ tour of Kenya.
Must thank his stars
Within a year, Dhoni was in the Indian team to Bangladesh. Everything said and done, Dhoni has to thank his lucky stars for getting noticed in the first place.
He was fortunate that Vengsarkar’s recommendations were accepted by More’s selection committee.
More, being a wicketkeeper himself, wasn’t happy initially with Dhoni’s keeping abilities but every decision maker felt that Dhoni was a special talent. Dhoni gave the impression that he enjoyed pressure situations.
In an interview in Dr. Rudi Webster’s book, ‘Think Like a Champion’, Dhoni says, “I see pressure as an opportunity to do well. If you are under pressure you should not see it as a danger and give in to it.
Dealing with pressure
“People say a lot of negative things about pressure. Pressure to me is just an added responsibility.
That is how I look at it. It’s not pressure when God gives you an opportunity to be a hero for your team and country.
“If you expect pressure and have a plan to deal with it you will know exactly what to do when it comes, and more often than not you will use it in a positive and productive way.
“The best way to deal with it is to stay in the moment and not get trapped in the past or caught up in the future on the result or on what might happen.
If you stay in the moment, calm your mind and focus on the process you won’t feel much pressure.”
The way Dhoni plays in the death overs is a mystery beyond explanation but these words of his certainly unravel some secrets. Webster’s book deals with many interviews of V.V.S. Laxman, Rahul Dravid, Sir Garfield Sobers and Greg Chappell.
It focuses on the psychological aspects of cricket, which is often referred to as “mental strength”.
Dhoni is candid in admitting that his technique isn’t of international standard. However, a glance at his performance (11567 international runs, 424 catches and 111 stumpings) shows that he has done what many great technicians of the game haven’t. To him, performance counts.
Technique is important of course, but Dhoni isn’t the kind to be a slave to technique.
The psychological aspect of the game that he emphasises should be an eye opener for people who are stuck with the baggage of technique.
Technique without performance is worthless; it can be at best used for technical comparison and nothing else.