The ability to switch on and switch off at the right time is a quality that champion performers work extra hard to acquire. MS Dhoni seems to have mastered that art, and it stood him in good stead on Sunday while playing under intense pressure with the game hanging in the balance on the third day.
At the wicket, during the course of his unbeaten double hundred, Dhoni was a picture of extreme concentration, producing a near flawless exhibition of strokeplay. But during breaks, he didn't speak a word on the game. Revealing his captain's mind, Virat Kohli said: "He did not want to talk about the game (during the tea break). He said, 'talk to me about something else, not about the wicket or the knock'. He was pretty calm and relaxed and he was doing well."
Virat was involved in a 128-run partnership with Dhoni in just 26 overs. Having watched the epic from the best place in the stadium, the captain-in-waiting said: "When Dhoni is in flow he can hit the ball a mile and we all saw that. It was a great example of his ability and his strike rate was 87 per cent, which is quite brilliant. But when you analyse the situation, playing with the tail-ender and taking strike when you wanted, and hitting the ball when it is needed; it was a great display of batting temperament-wise, hitting the ball cleanly and assessing the situation as well. It was very special to watch."
It was not just his batting, Dhoni hardly put a foot wrong in 'keeping too, conceding a single bye in Australia's total of 380. It is a tribute to his fitness, said Virat. "He is among the few guys who keeps well in every format and hats off to him, being so fit in all three formats of the game."
Many feel Dhoni can make a greater contribution with the bat regularly if he continues to bat at No 6 as he did on Sunday. "He has been batting 7 for a while. People doubted his Test batting… (but) he was not getting enough opportunities. (When) the team is five down he has to go and negotiate the situation and to get a hundred every time is quite difficult. Coming at number six there are more opportunities to settle down and he knows how to play with the lower order. That is the huge difference he could make coming at No. 6 in Tests. It might just be the click for us in the batting order.