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DHONI POWER Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the latest poster boy of Indian Cricket
DHONI POWER Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the latest poster boy of Indian Cricket

Mahendra Singh Dhoni carries charisma on and off field

There are times when it is really hard to control yourself but you have to. Because it's cricket, not boxing When the Indian cricket team arrived in Bangalore recently it was the man from Jharkhand - Mahendra Singh Dhoni who grabbed all the attention with the press pack hounding him. The televisions didn't get their soundbytes though, because the man has a contract with one news channel, which gets exclusive access to him. This meant the print media got Dhoni all for themselves - a rare privilege at a time when celebrities are hard to get if you don't wield a television camera!So, what does he think about India agreeing to the 20-20 cricket concept? "Aap starting hi karo controversy hatake. 20-20 math pucho yaar," Dhoni replied, making it clear this conversation was going to have some very clearly defined boundaries. But after persisting he said "Everything goes. Test match bhi, one dayers and even 20-20. It is an interesting concept and is good for the spectators." Over the last season, due to his exploits with the bat, Dhoni has emerged the latest poster boy of Indian cricket. This even led to him being crowned the MTV Youth Icon of 2006. "I think it is a prestigious award. The youth are the ones who poll and decide who is the icon," he reflected. "Most others (contestants) were from different fields, and that's where I feel cricket played a role in me winning the award. But it was also about how you are off the field. Cricket is not everything, it is not life. The person you are off the field and how you behave with others matter. You have to be a good human being and that is a challenge, a tough challenge."Recently an advertisement has featured Dhoni driving a bike and it has now emerged that the man is a hardcore bike enthusiast. Rumours have it that he has laid his hands on a Suzuki Hayabusa, the most powerful bike in the world. But Dhoni said the truth is far from it. "No, I haven't got a Hayabusa. I have a Kawasaki ZX 14. But I like dirt biking the most. So, TVS is building a customised dirt bike for me because one is not available in the market. This has been kept confidential till now."Another face of Dhoni not many know about is a passion he shares with Ronaldinho - their love for gaming. While playing too much on a playstation is being cited as a reason for the Brazilian's poor performance at the world cup, Dhoni made his priorities very clear. "Off the field it is one of the things I do most of the time. But I like to play only if I get a stretch of two to three hours. I don't like to leave the game in the middle, go for a training session and then come back." Dhoni will also feature in a computer game, the next edition of Brian Lara Cricket. But he said he much prefers cricket in real life. "I am into basically first person-shooting games. Counter Strike, Black Hawk Down, Men Of Valour..." Talk over the last few weeks has been of the much-vaunted cricket reality show. It aims to discover talent from across India, which according to Dhoni will be a long process. "I think it should work. It depends on what their plan is. It remains to be seen how they will explore rural and urban areas. It also depends on how the plan is executed. It is a stage-by-stage process."Dhoni must come across as the stuff of nightmares to bowlers, but in person, he is far from that image. He says he believes in being positive and controlling his aggression. "There are times when it is really hard to control yourself but you have to. Because it's cricket, not boxing."Comparisons have been made to Aussie hero Adam Gilchrist. Though the two players are worlds apart, Dhoni does seem to have some of that Aussie grit and aggression in him. "That's a real hard thing to judge. I haven't judged myself. But one thing is for sure, wherever I am part of - cricket, soccer or any other game - I am serious. I give 100 per cent. I may succeed or lose. But when the day ends and when I go to my room, I should be confident I did what I could."ANAND SANKAR

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