A Phoenix Called Dhoni: MSD always rises, just when people write him off
In his fitness, Dhoni easily exceeds youngsters in the field. He is like a warrior who simply fights, showing no emotion. And he combines this with brilliant management skills.
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'Most dedicated' is the title I would always use for MS Dhoni or MSD.
I used to believe that there are two eras of modern cricket — pre-Sachin Tendulkar and post-Sachin Tendulkar.
But now, I'd also say there are the pre-MSD and post-MSD eras in world cricket, as a skipper and a supremely talented keeper made his mark. The skipper who has seen it all, in all formats of the game, and has been a flag bearer of Indian cricket for over a decade. The keeper and the icon who made new legends and redefined old conventions into a purely winning mindset.
It was literally an awesome experience for me as a strength and conditioning coach for the Indian team for a period of four and a half years under MSD's leadership — where we won the World Cup and Champions Trophy and we became world number one in 2009 for the first time.
Moments of glory: Even in times of triumph, Dhoni kept himself calm and collected. (Photo: Via author)
I am very lucky to have watched MSD live and shared the same dressing room with him through thick and thin.
Personally, I have not seen any cricketer who is as strong and powerful as Mahender Singh Dhoni in his fitness ability. Well-directed force and power are his forte, combined with lightning-quick reflexes which are comparable to any Formula One driver or fighter pilots. He also has an analytical mind which is very difficult to decipher, even, I think, to the most revered psychologist!
He is an enigma.
I remember during the World Cup in 2011, we were in Dhaka before our first match. The team was at nets session and we were doing the fitness session indoors. The typically quiet and calm MSD wanted to do boxing. We started the workout — the session was for a quick 20 minutes. Post-the session, my own hands were numb and I could lift my hands with great difficulty over the next two days! It was because of the power and focus with which he was hitting the mitt and at times, he really took my shoulders off.
One of the most difficult workouts I can recollect personally in the Indian team — it was in fact a brutal session!
With full focus: MS Dhoni took to gym sessions with powerful dedication. (Photo: YouTube)
Dhoni is a naturally fit person and not very fond of heavy gym sessions, but nevertheless, he started to come for his sessions on the allocated time and then, the rest is history. He loves his food and at the same time, he is extremely sensible in his choice of dishes. His fitness needs are very specific and no matter how tired he may be, he does his fitness routines without any hue and cry.
Keeping things simple is his great strength.
He still can give loads of youngsters who are ten years younger than him a run for their money in fitness when it comes to speed, power and reflex. As I have mentioned, he likes to keep things very simple and executes plans to the tee when it comes to workouts. He is a real delight for any S&C coach. Smart questions and out of the box thinking are Dhoni's forte. He is very logical and pragmatic in his approach — and he does not get carried away by any unwanted emotions, simply to prove a point.
MSD's threshold for his tolerance of pain is also something to wonder about. He has shown unbelievable pain tolerance — even with his stiff back or ham injuries, he would go and execute the desired goal without any pain flinching upon his face. He is like a fearless warrior with no emotions shown for the other person to read his next move — just unequivocally brilliant. He is a great case study, I think, for management students and skilled professionals around the world on how one should deal with stressful situations and take the right decision to pin-point exactitude — and then, be a winner at the end of it.
It’s a rarity to find someone like MS Dhoni.
How to manage, perfectly: MS Dhoni's skills can be studied by management students and skilled professionals. (Photo: Reuters)
He will remain the darling of Indians always because he is an amazing personality in more ways than one. His is a story of belief, struggle and rise which makes him a very special person for all age groups to follow. Had the media been as developed as it is now only ten years back, the world would have seen these legends of world cricket in action either in the gym or on the field, working out. Social media would have gone ballistic with the amount of information, the kinds of sights people could see and relish. Believe me, these sights would remind you of warriors and mythical legends of yore with their power, strength and unbelievable capacities.
Interestingly, MSD has always combined his physical power with the skills of being a great management professional too — another rare quality of a winner. To manage a team with superstars and to win is no mean task for anyone to pull off.
Significantly, MSD always rises like a phoenix when people write him off. That’s a mark of a world beater. "Powerful speaker, tireless executer and fearless person is the most difficult person to quell", in the words of the great Tamil poet and philosopher.
This is MS Dhoni for you.