MSK Prasad reveals Dhoni's Asia Cup scare

In his address at the TNSJA annual awards night on Sunday, the national chief selector MSK Prasad shared an anecdote on former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

The national chief selector MSK Prasad is still in awe of Dhoni’s dedication towards the game.   -  PTI

His recent comments on Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s future have set the alarm bells ringing. But then, the national chief selector MSK Prasad is still in awe of Dhoni’s dedication towards the game.

As he addressed the young athletes at the Tamil Nadu Sports Journalists Association (TNSJA) annual awards on Sunday, the chief guest Prasad, revealed how Dhoni took the field against Pakistan in an Asia Cup encounter in Dhaka last year despite suffering serious injury during a training session.

“While training at the gym late in the night, Dhoni picked up weights and suddenly there was a catch in his back and fell with the weight. Thankfully, the weight did not fall on him. He could not walk, he was literally crawling. He pressed the alarm bell, and the medical staff immediately came and attended him. He was taken on stretcher,” Prasad revealed.

The incident happened a couple of days before India’s match against arch-rival Pakistan. Being one of the selectors at the time, Prasad was not sure how to deal with the situation. “As I reached Dhaka, the journalists questioned about Dhoni and I had no answers. The game against Pakistan was crucial, that too, it was on a seaming track.

"So, I went to Dhoni’s room to know what the issue was. He said, ‘don’t worry MSK bhai.’ I even asked him what should I tell the scribes, and the answer again was ‘don’t worry MSK bhai.’ I asked him whether we should call for a replacement, and he again told me not to worry,” Prasad took a pause, and then continued with the story that had remained one of the best kept secrets of Indian cricket.

“There was so much pressure before a big match. The next morning I went to his room and he told me not to worry. But I felt things were not right. (As a selector) I couldn’t take Dhoni’s words for granted, so I called up the then chief selector Sandeep Patil and told him the situation. Immediately, Parthiv Patel was sent in as a replacement. By evening, Parthiv had joined the team,” Prasad revealed.

What looked like a mission impossible for Dhoni soon turned into a different story, thanks to ‘Captain Cool’s determination. “I went to his room in the evening and he was just trying to get up from his bed. I asked him if things are alright. As per the Asia Cup rules, we had to submit the team list 24 hours before a game, so I had to check on him. He clearly said that he would play,” Prasad said, adding that the then captain clearly couldn’t walk then.

“Again at 11pm, when I went to his room, he was not there. Fortunately I went to the top floor and I saw Dhoni was trying hard to walk towards the swimming pool. He was literally crawling.”

Before a high-pressure game, it looked evident that Dhoni would be missing out of action against Pakistan. “Dhoni said he was trying to walk. I was thinking how could he even think of playing when he could barely walk. Dhoni looked at me and said, ‘don’t worry, you have anyway got Parthiv without telling me. So, you are safe,” Prasad revealed.

On the match day, the team and the selectors were in for surprise. “Before the team was announced in the afternoon, Dhoni was all dressed up for the game. He called me to his room and asked me why was I worrying so much? Then he said, even if my one leg is not there, I will still play against Pakistan,” Prasad said.

Dhoni did lead India to a victory against its neighbour that evening. “This is what Dhoni is made of,” he added.

Asking the youngsters not to rue over lack of facilities, the selector’s advise was simple — “Dhoni comes from a area, where there is no facility. Even T Natarajan didn’t get recognition before.

"So, there will be no facility, it is your inner power that will take you to the next level.”