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HindustanTimes Sat,26 Jul 2014

Cricket

Talking point: Breaking MSD code
Sai Mohan, Hindustan Times
New Delhi, May 05, 2013
First Published: 02:11 IST(5/5/2013)
Last Updated: 03:06 IST(5/5/2013)

Humour is different things to different people. Some see it as being over-the-top, some unassuming. There are those who delight in the belly laugh, or the sense of ridiculous. Others prefer the one-liner.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, India's cricket captain for over half a decade now, has the amazing ability to weave his own brand of humour to drive home a point - on cricket, captaincy, batting or life.

Thus Dhoni's remark, "When you die, it doesn't matter how you die," after the humiliating defeat in the Perth Test in early 2012 didn't leave many perplexed. Not anymore.

HT tries to unravel the MSD code.

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Summer blues down under
When? India's tour of Australia, 2011-12
Canberra: At the Indian High Commission
After a forgettable tour of England, the BCCI ensured Dhoni's men reached Australia two weeks ahead of the Boxing Day Test. India were at a get-together at the Indian High Commission. Sujatha Singh, the Indian High Commissioner to Australia, introduced him as "an icon of young India".

Dhoni said: "I was sitting at home and watching television. More often than not, you watch some really strong advertisements in the lead-up to an India-Australia series. The advertisement said: 'It is winter out there, and summer out here, so get ready to feel the heat Down Under.' I took it very seriously. I didn't pack a single jacket, only to realise it is pretty cold here. What they meant was it was related to cricket and not the weather."


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No life jacket without warranty
When? New Zealand tour of India, 2010-11
Ahmedabad Test: Pre-match press conference
This happened long before the Indian board started publicly criticising the Decision Review System. There was no question of being ‘politically correct’ or being the Board’s mouthpiece. To Dhoni, the idea of umpire referrals just didn't fit the bill. The first time Dhoni was asked about the DRS, he drew an analogy. "I personally feel it doesn't give cent percent result. It's not always correct. If I am going to buy a life jacket which does not come with a warranty, that's a bit of a hassle for me. Especially with the huge amount of money you have to spend for the DRS," he said. "I would prefer some kind of warranty for it. (The) moment it comes, I would be happy."

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Birth of the philosopher
When: Tour of New Zealand, 2009
Napier Test: Pre-match conference
Having completed a historic Test win at Hamilton inside four days, India had a six-day break until the second Test at nearby Napier. The team travelled 420 kilometres south to Auckland. They enjoyed adventure sports and night life, shopped, trained for a day, and shopped again. They arrived in Napier just 19 hours before the toss. "The day before the game, we'll practice, one good hard session, and we're ready," Dhoni said.

And then a philosopher was born. "Mentally we are right there. When it comes to the mind, it depends on what you're feeding into it. The mind doesn't know if it's Napier. You come and say 'this is Napier' and it believes it is Napier. If you see, it's abstract. When people say 'he's in form', nobody has seen form. It's a state of mind where you are confident and you think very positively... One day here, one day there doesn't really make a difference. Preparation-wise, we are up to the mark."

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Why play mentally tough cricketers?
When? March 11, 2011 before the World Cup game against South Africa
Nagpur: Pre-match press conference
Piyush Chawla wasn't expected to find a place in the 15-man squad ahead of the likes of Pragyan Ojha, Amit Mishra and Rohit Sharma. At one point, one even felt the management was obliged to persist with Chawla, perhaps to justify his selection. Calls were growing louder for Dhoni to pick R Ashwin instead. Dhoni explained: "Ashwin is a very different individual, an extremely mature one. He doesn't require the sort of confidence boost someone like Piyush needs. He can get straight into a match because he is mentally tough. I have enjoyed captaining him for the Chennai Super Kings. It's a matter of time before he gets a game."

For most, Dhoni's logic was incomprehensible. But that's the way the India captain has gone about approaching things since taking charge in 2007.

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Old engines can't be re-fuelled
When? 2011 Cricket World Cup (India vs South Africa)
Nagpur: Pre-match press conference
India were fresh from beating Ireland and the Netherlands and their match against England had ended in a tie. It was India's inconsistent fielding that was criticised. Barry Richards and Nasser Hussain said slow fielders could scupper India's quest for the title.

Dhoni made no bones in accepting that fielding was the most worrying factor. Asked if there was a plan to give a special coaching session on fielding, Dhoni compared his Indian team to an 'old engine'.

"You may fuel the best of the hybrid oil but the engine should be equally good to get the desired results. You can't just get better performance by only refuelling the old engine..."


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