M.S. Dhoni: ‘They don’t call my name, they call me Thala’

CSK skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni discusses the talking points of Wednesday's match against DC and admits that he feels special to have earned the nickname 'Thala'.

Chennai Super Kings captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni in action against Delhi Capitals at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Wednesday.   -  PTI

Even at 37, Chennai Super Kings skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni reacts at lightning speed behind the stumps. After scoring an unbeaten 44 off 22 balls with the bat, the seasoned campaigner pulled off two stumpings and a catch in the second innings against Delhi Capitals on Wednesday.

DC lost the rubber by 80 runs and CSK returned to the top of the table. The victory was a fitting reward to the CSK fans in the side’s last home game at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium.

Dhoni won the Man of the Match award as well.

READ| Dhoni, spinners shine as Chennai tops the table

Talking about the last over and how he sneaked in a bye to get back on strike for the last two balls, Dhoni said, “I watch the ball and hit the ball. I think by 20th over you are almost ready and you swing at everything. It's easier for somebody who has played 10 or 15 deliveries than somebody who has just come in to bat. It was holding on a bit, it wasn't coming on nicely. I felt it was slightly difficult for Rayudu (Ambati) to hit. Rishabh helped me, he didn't take his gloves off and that helped me a bit (to sneak in the bye).”

Dhoni, who had earlier criticised the Chepauk strip, was happy how the wicket played.

“We knew there won't be much dew on the field. Once we started to bowl, Bhajju Pa (Harbhajan Singh) didn't get much turn initially. But as they kept losing wickets, it slowed down a bit and the spinners got more turn. I felt it was a good wicket, 170-180 was a par-plus score,” he said.

READ| How M.S. Dhoni sets up the end game

“It's great fun to watch Imran Tahir [who returned with 4/12] celebrate. We have made it very clear to him that me and Watson are never coming to him because more often that not, when he gets a wicket, he runs to the other side. With me and Watson, it's quite difficult since we are not 100 percent fit. So, we just say very well done and go back to our positions. The good thing is he finishes the lap quickly and comes back to bowl,” Dhoni said in jest.

When asked about the glovework, he admitted that he learnt the basics from tennis-ball cricket. “You need to do the basics right and then graduate to the next level. If you want to keep like that, you may commit a lot of mistakes. It's important to stick to the basics.”

Dhoni continued to be tight-lipped about CSK’s trade secret. “I will have to go and talk to the owners, ask if I will get retained or not. But I am not going to tell the trade secret.”

Thala, the nickname

In this part of the world, Dhoni earned the nickname Thala which means ‘leader’.

“I have always said it's very special to get that kind of a nickname. It's a big nickname that they have given me. It feels really special. I didn't realise that it was part of the first CSK song. The way I got accepted and the whole of Tamil Nadu — don't call my name, they call me 'Thala'. It's very nice and they have always supported not only me but the whole team.”