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MS Dhoni reveals how to ‘turn the screw’ on opponents without sledging

Former Indian cricket team captain MS Dhoni said abuse or sledging isn’t necessary to unsettle an opponent

cricket Updated: Aug 19, 2017 16:45 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Mumbai
MS Dhoni,Indian cricket team,National Cricket Academy
Former India captain MS Dhoni has said he doesn’t believe abusing an opponent is necessary to unsettle him.(AFP)

Former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has admitted that although a few teams may use sledging as an important tool to intimidate opponents, what matters most is hitting the right topic to unnerve them.

Speaking at the National Cricket Academy in Bengaluru while addressing coaches who were part of Cricket Australia’s High Performance Level 3 Coaching programme, Dhoni said the hunger to score runs and playing the game amongst good players had helped him grow as a batsman.

“I felt what really helped me was playing against good players and playing a lot of matches and having that hunger to score runs irrespective of what level you are playing,” he said. “Technique is important. Right now there are so many things that can assist you… videos I felt was always the best example. When you’re batting, your coach tells you that your head is falling, (but) the moment you see your video, you’re the first one to tell your coach that your head is falling. So, visual reference is always of very good help.”

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Dhoni, the only Indian captain to have won all the three ICC tournaments — T20I World Cup (2007), World Cup (2011) and the Champions Trophy (2013) — retired from the Test format back in 2014 before stepping down as captain from the limited-overs format earlier this year. ‘Captain Cool’, however, also admitted the problems of an Indian mindset.

“In the Indian setup there are a few things that we have to be very careful about. We don’t like to show our weakness. Even when there is a problem, we don’t like to admit it. If you don’t admit, you can’t improve. I always felt that admission of shortcoming is very important. You need to have the courage to admit that. It all boils down to your mindset,” he said.

“Keeping it simple does help. Looking ahead in time, the challenges that we may face, looking for solutions… For some team(s), sledging is very important, for some, hitting the right topic is very important. You don’t have to abuse someone to turn the screw. Hitting the right topic can be very subtle.”

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Dhoni had shot to fame with his explosive batting style before evolving as a responsible finisher lower down the order. Known to experiment with his decisions, Dhoni admitted it was important to know what is to be done.

“We have to see what others are not seeing. Rohit Sharma is one of the best examples. He accepted that challenge of becoming an opener and in the limited overs format he is the best opener who is playing right now. You have to think out of the box at times. We were like, the amount of talent this guy has I have to make him play.

“For that, even if I have to make him an opener, I will do it. Yes, whether he is up to the mark, only his performance will judge that. You can only do that if your 5-6 other batsmen are performing. If you keep losing games, you can’t give games to individuals. If you lose 3-4 games, you have to make a few changes.

“If you keep playing the same XI, then others who are your bench strength, won’t get a reality check of what they have on offer. So, it’s slightly complex, but what’s easiest and what always works during a series is to give the individual as much confidence as possible,” he further added.

First Published: Aug 19, 2017 16:45 IST