He's been staying at the Chennai hotel from the time the Indian Premier League started but has hardly ever been spotted in the lobby or around the restaurants. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has mastered the art of almost staying invisible.
It's not by choice. His charisma is such that anytime he steps out, he cannot avoid being mobbed. To survive in his new avatar, he has mastered all the tricks of living the life of a celebrity. A few hours after adding more magnetism to his persona, Dhoni was on the flight to Mumbai, and had the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on, his eyes shut and the cap pulled down over them. No eye contact is the best way to keep admirers at bay.
The fairytale story of MS Dhoni continues. The successful IPL title defence with Chennai Super Kings is the latest feather in his cap. Even by Dhoni's standards, it has been a crazy year. The brilliant fightback to achieve the first-ever drawn Test series in South Africa and the glorious World Cup campaign preceded the great IPL run.
"He makes for an amazing case study..., coming from Jharkhand and the way he has understood the Indian set up,” said Kiran More, who as the chief selector gave him his international break.
“He keenly observed the captains he played under, like Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and Anil Kumble as well as the legends Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman. He picked up the important points but maintained his style.
“Dhoni is writing his own script. He’s not just lucky; he knows what he’s doing; it’s the hallmark of his captaincy. He knows which player to pick, whom to back, and how best to use him.
“S Badrinath and Albie Morkel are classic cases, both don’t figure in international cricket. The best example during this IPL was CSK’s qualifier against Royal Challengers Bangalore. It looked like an impossible chase as at one stage they needed 105 to win in 48 balls, but they never panicked.
“Badrinath and Suresh Raina laid the foundation after the early exit of the openers and then Dhoni got his order spot on, timing his and Albie’s entry to perfection. That is the stuff legends are made of,” said More.
Having led his team to the No 1 Test rank, won the biggest prize in one-day and twenty20 cricket, what's there for Dhoni to achieve?
“I want him to develop some more cricketers for the Indian team and lead a smooth transition as in the recent future, there’s going to be a big void after Tendulkar, Laxman and Dravid hang their boots. After 2012 we may have a totally different team. He now has to build a team for the 2015 World Cup,” adds More.