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Dhoni turns philosopher ahead of the Napier Test

Dhoni shattered many myths and defied stereotypes in his budding career. But who thought there was a philosopher in him? Anand Vasu reports.

cricket Updated: Mar 26, 2009 00:36 IST
Anand Vasu

Normally, we think of philosophers as wizened men who'd peer through old-fashioned reading glasses at a thick tome.

Sportsmen are generally the kind who are big, muscular, back-slapping jolly fellows who enjoy a contest and read books that have sporting statistics or perhaps pictures of glamourous women.

What does one then make of the small-town cricketer who became captain of India in a fairytale story and then started spouting philosophy in faraway Napier? Mahendra Singh Dhoni presented the broadest of outlooks to the most mundane questions on the eve of the second Test.

Even a simple poser on why the team chose to arrive in Napier at the last possible moment was treated with a flourish. "Coming here a day before the game is not really an issue because mentally, we are right there," he began.

"When it comes to the mind, it depends on what you're feeding into the mind. The mind doesn't know if it's Napier, it's about how you treat the mind.

"The mind's an abstract," said Dhoni, who has clearly spent the last few days thinking about life from a different perspective, what with all the non-standard horizon-broadening activities that the team has undertaken.

"For instance, when people say someone's in form, nobody has seen form. It's a state of mind where you are confident and you think very positively and everything you think about, you think it's very achievable. One day here or one day there doesn't really make a difference. Preparation-wise, we are up to the mark."

When asked to try and explain just how Gary Kirsten and Paddy Upton were making the team feel at ease, Dhoni made an attempt.

"Frankly, one of the most difficult things to do is expressing it in words since it's an abstract. It's like you want to be in your comfort zone before a big game — you are relaxed, focussed, you create an environment wherein you have the most favourable chances of performing. International cricket is not only about talent, it's about how you handle pressure. People change their games when you come to the international level. That's one thing you don't want to do because it's your natural game play, which is what has brought you to this level.

"One of the most important things in making sure you don't change your style is the dressing room atmosphere. The support staff really helps in that. You have other players as well who contribute. There are lots of things that are working for us — we have gelled well together, and definitely Gary, Paddy, Robin Singh and Venkatesh Prasad are contributing, as are Ramesh Mane and Dhananjay, our video analyst. Every guy has an important role to play. It has been great so far."

Dhoni shattered many myths and defied stereotypes in his budding career. But who thought there was a philosopher in him?