Apr 052014

DHAKA: Among the numerous adjectives used to describe Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the one that fits him best is ‘incredible.’ That’s what his journey has been since he was unravelled as a leader by Dilip Vengsarkar and his colleagues on August 7, 2007.

After pocketing the inaugural World T20, in Johannesburg, the ODI World Cup in 2011, in Mumbai, the Champions Trophy, in 2013, in England and Wales, he now stands where it all began seven years ago — on the cusp of yet another World T20 title. Victory over Sri Lanka at the Sher-E-Bangla National Stadium, on Sunday, will make him the first captain to hold all three world titles at the same time. Of course, he became the only skipper to have won all three world titles – ODI World Cup, Champions Trophy and World T20 – when he won the CT last year. Now, he is poised to add yet another feather to his cap.

When asked what does he remember about the night before the final in 2007, his response was irreverent. “Yaar, chaar din pehle ki baat yaad nahin rehti, aap saat saal pehli ki baat pooch rahe ho”. That’s how it’s with Dhoni.

Overstating things is not his style, nor is hyping up occasions or achievements. He was asked on the possibility of him being the only skipper to hold all the big ICC trophies. What can you expect from the man who said, “Sab kuch normal rakhneka,” the morning after leading India to victory in the 2007 World T20 final in Johannesburg? He simply stressed: “For us what is important is doing well in the final. It is more important to win a World Cup than focus on stats.”

While his rivals and numerous teammates envy Dhoni’s enormous wealth and popularity, the one trait they really want to borrow is the Indian captain’s calm demeanour and equanimity.

“I don’t think I was calm as a child. I’m someone who doesn’t like losing much. When I was young, I had trouble controlling the emotions associated with defeat. Over time, I have learnt how to control these emotions. I’m a believer in the fact that your emotions are yours only and hence you should be the one who knows how to control it.”

On Saturday, the press conference arena was overpopulated and noisy. The air-conditioning wasn’t sufficient, journalists were sweating and phones kept buzzing despite repeated reminders to switch them off. Dhoni calmly walked in without a trace of even his footsteps being heard and responded to every query.

Describing his journey as a leader, he said, “I leave pressure back at the stadium. Over the years that I have been captain, I have seen almost everything. There is nothing that I have not seen in cricket. Good times, lean times, controversies, I have been through all. There’s hardly anything good or bad in Indian cricket that happens without my name.”

Great captains like Ian Chappell and Richie Benaud have said how captaincy has a shelf life. Dhoni has been in the job for seven years and has made his share of mistakes. How does he assess his leadership?

“That’s not for me to decide. From outside, you can judge it better,” he says. He however feels responsible to the public. “I have been given the responsibility and I try to fulfil it to my best potential. As an individual though, you will make mistakes. As a captain, it is very important that if you commit a mistake, you admit it.”

In this tournament, Dhoni has hardly made any.

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