A new start — decoding Dhoni 2.0, the man of the moment

Former Team India trainer Ramji Srinivasan throws light on the strong mind-body connection of M.S. Dhoni which, at present, is on top.

MS Dhoni raises his bat after reaching his fifty during the third ODI against Australia in Melbourne on Friday.   -  AFP

When 87-year-old Dr. Charles Eugster saw a photo from his 40s, he found it ‘disgusting’. He was unhappy how unfit he looked then.

The track and field athlete had started a training regime at 85; the mind and body connection saw him shine as a Masters athlete for Great Britain. He died aged 97.

M.S. Dhoni seems to have imbibed a similar nirvana, one that has unleashed Dhoni 2.0. What makes Dhoni still relevant at 37 is his brain — the muscles, glutes and power as its associates.

Still a finisher, with enhanced awareness. This Dhoni doesn’t go downtown at will. He still steps out to spinners for singles, but the move is more calculated.

READ: I’m ready to bat at any position, says MS Dhoni

No free flow of runs. He can cause you a nervous breakdown by playing those dot balls. Yet, he still wins matches.

“His mind is something that is to be wondered [at]. His mind and body connection is impeccable. At the end of the day, he decides when to score and when not to score,” former Team India trainer Ramji Srinivasan tells Sportstar, a few minutes after India’s 2-1 ODI series-win in Australia.

Dhoni ended as player of the tournament with 193 runs; three fifties, two of which led to victories.

Having known Dhoni for a decade, Srinivasan feels the mind-body package is delivering at its best at the moment. He laid out the Dhoni ‘special’ routines that perhaps is the secret to his longevity.

“MSD is one of the naturally fit boys in the team. What he does [at training] is very, very smart and choosy. He knows exactly what he wants in his fitness regime, much like Sachin Tendulkar.

READ: Dhoni anchors, Kedar finishes as India takes series 2-1

“He knows the component of fitness that needs to be addressed. Reflex or hybrid work, strength work or some sprint or agility, it is all very measured. He completely understands what his requirements are — batting and wicket-keeping requirements separately,” he adds.

Strength and boxing circuit training often brought the ninja out of the wicketkeeper-batsman, Srinivasan lets on. “He loved those. It helps develop core, explosive power. A lot of rotational power comes from the core and glutes.”

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Dhoni never uses heavy weights in training. His weight training has been fairly moderate over the years. “He was never a hardcore gym boy when he started,” says Srinivasan, who was part of the pre-IPL camp of the Chennai Super Kings in 2018.

He agrees with the general notion that Dhoni has changed. “He is in a different planet now. He is not young, but that man is redefining the expression ‘pushing the boundaries.”’