MS Dhoni: An astute reader of the game

I had no clue what switching on and switching off meant. Whatever be the result, MS Dhoni would ask us to accept the challenge and react to the situation to our best possible strength.

"I remember the match against South Africa in the 2007 T20 World Cup. We all felt the pressure, but MS was calm. He just reminded me about the dot balls, the back-up plans," Rp Singh says about his former captain.   -  K. Bhagya Prakash

M.S. Dhoni taught us the importance of reading the game as it progressed. We all know it is a battle between bat and ball but MS looked at it as a contest that belonged to those who were mentally strong.

I had no clue what switching on and switching off meant. Whatever be the result, he would ask us to accept the challenge and react to the situation to our best possible strength.

It was simple. MS would tell me that the ball that had been bowled was gone. “It was over. Now think about the next ball.” It was an important lesson.

“Learn to enjoy it than brood over a defeat. Learn from every game,” was his constant piece of advice to us.

I remember the match against South Africa in the 2007 T20 World Cup. We all felt the pressure, but MS was calm. He just reminded me about the dot balls, the back-up plans, how to analyse the batsman, his style, reach. It was so encouraging because as a wicketkeeper he best understood the movements of the batsman.

MS made a huge impression with his astute reading of the game. We saw it in the 2007 World T20 final. We were amazed at his awareness and control of the game.

True he had a good team but then he was the best man to mould it into a champion team. He was technically sound with his cricket and the changes that he brought in the way we played was there for all to see.

What I liked the most was that he did not shirk from responsibility. When we won, he loved to send the performer to meet the media because he wanted the right man to take the credit.

When we lost, he went out to face the media. Yes, he was cool, controlled his emotions well, never panicked in any situation. He would accept defeat gracefully and celebrate the triumph silently.

Finally, believe me, he was not biased. There is an impression that he backed small-town boys. No. He backed performers because he was always sure of what he was supposed to do as a captain. His era of leadership is a benchmark for times to come. — (As told to Vijay Lokapally)