Everyone seems to envy M S Dhoni. With back to back IPL titles that he’s led the Chennai Super Kings to, and the small matter of being the captain of the world’s no. 1 test side and leading India to an amazing World Cup victory sandwiched between them the phrase ‘man with the midas touch’ sits very well on the man who this writer had nicknamed the Jharkhand Jedi after the T20 World Cup win. The envy though does not stem from his success – to borrow his catchphrase, ‘well, of course we want India to keep winning under his leadership – it stems from witnessing his ability to be cool under pressure at all times. I repeat, at ALL times!Like a jedi knight Dhoni seems to be in control of his abilities as well as his mind, a combination that would make Yoda proud.
If ever Ravi Shastri used the phrase ‘cool customer’ on the right guy, it’d have to be Dhoni. He is calmness personified no matter how chaotic things get on the field and his easygoing approach to life might have something to do with that. His equanimity is not to be confused with being stoical neither should easygoing be interpreted as casual. Dhoni is an intense man and he’s really good at his craft, but somewhere he draws a line at taking life too seriously.
My erstwhile boss, a dapper sports consultant now met MSD in Sri Lanka on the eve of the India-Pakistan encounter at the Asia Cup. It was supposed to be a 30 minute meeting. The first thing he noticed was that Dhoni’s room had two cricket kitbags and two more bags. The other bags were full of video game CDs, a collection wider than you’d ever spot whether at a swanky electronics store or a shady Palika Bazar/National Market pirated game joint. Video Games are a kind of stress relief for the man who refuses to obssess over his profession and it is just as well that they do wonders to his hand eye coordination. Surely, that helps immensely during the helicopter shot. Through the small talk and idle banter, suddenly the half an hour meeting had stretched to a couple of hours and my boss was feeling a little guilty at encroaching on the time when Dhoni might be preparing for the big game tomorrow. Amazingly, when he expressed the same concern to Dhoni, MS dismissed it lightly saying that the game will take its course and there was no point worrying about it. I only need to find my masseur now said Dhoni. Oh of course, a massaage will relieve all the tension said my boss hazarding a safe guess. No, said Dhoni, I need him because he makes great tea! That’s MS Dhoni for you, taking the three magic words ‘take it easy’ to a new level.
Zen master he may not quite be, but Dhoni as far as I have observed him seems consistent with one philosophy – do your best; don’t worry about things you can’t control or change; and, back you guts when you take a decision. Perhaps that’s been the success mantra that has given him the most enviable resume in world cricket today. Maybe Dhoni is living that line from ‘3 Idiots’ – don’t run after success; seek excellence and success will come chasing you. But captain cool can add his corollary to it – don’t take all of this too seriously.