Mahendra Singh Dhoni Curated

Former Cricketer and Captain

CURATED BY :      +44 others


  • Has technology influenced sports in any way?

  • Any specific reason why you haven’t acted yourself in your own biographical movie, Dhoni: The Untold Story?

  • What is your normal day like when you are not playing cricket?

  • Who is your favorite sportsperson other than in the field of cricket?

  • What is your opinion between Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli, since you have played with both of them?

  • Where do you see yourself at 45 years of age?

  • What place does Chennai & Chennai Super Kings hold in your heart?

  • Can you share your secret for staying cool under pressure?

    Being prepared will always keep you cool. Whether you are a student or a pro athlete you have to get into the zone. The zone is a state of performing with zero friction. Practice and preparation will always help you perfect your skills and get you in the zone. If your skills go up, stress goes down. Psychologists say that 10,000 hours of practice will always get you to your goal! There's this scene in the movie where my dad lets me go off to play a cricket tournament just before my exam. I still remember what he said to me: "If you've studied and worked throughout the year, then there's no problem if you go off to play today. If you haven't studied every day then one day is not going to make a difference." My dad used to wake me up at dawn every day to study for two hours throughout my years at DAV Jawahar Vidya Mandir because my evenings were crowded with football and cricket practice. Being regular and deliberate with your preparations keeps the pressure away at crunch time.

  • What can India do to become a good sporting nation?

    You can't get results with a short-term approach to sports. Money doesn't directly translate into gold medals in the Olympics. How it works is that nations have to build infrastructure, provide nutritional information and then spot talented athletes, supporting them financially and with first-class training, coaching and scientific expertise. To become a great sporting nation you can't be result-oriented. We also can't watch more sport than we play. You have to educate and draw young people into sports. When we were growing up I played at least five sports: football, cricket, badminton, hockey, table tennis. When I interact with children in school nowadays and ask who plays football? There are a lot of hands. Then I point out that I am not referring to playing FIFA online. Immediately a lot of hands go down. Parents are happy sometimes to let their children play video games all the time, but they must think of their child's fitness. If you don't play any sports when you are young, you are not going to pick it up at 30. If you play sports you will do better in your academics. It is important for schools and parents to push for sports and that is how we will win medals in the Olympics. With enough passion for sports I am sure we can become a good sporting nation.

  • How did you decide that you wanted to be a cricketer?

    I loved sports right from the very start. When I was in school, I used to play a lot of other sports as well, and it would be wrong for me to say that I wanted to become a professional cricketer. For two years, I played proper football. I was the second goalkeeper for my school team, but our cricket team also needed a wicket-keeper. That was the time when people asked me to try wicket-keeping, and I used to keep wickets when we were playing tennis ball cricket. The reason was that I was very small, timid, short at that time, so maybe all the seniors thought that was the best place for me to be. In school, I also pursued badminton, and was very active when it came to the annual sports participation, whether it was track and field events or other sports. So, cricket just… everything happened at the right time and I became a cricketer.

  • What was your best moment as a cricketer?

    We have had quite a few good ones, but the 2011 World Cup, winning in India at the Wankhede Stadium, in front of the home crowd, was something that was really amazing and I think the whole process was good. But that exact point, you know, maybe four or five overs before we won the game, when the whole stadium and the spectators knew that we were going to win the game… that was the time when they started chanting, ‘Vande Mataram’ and all the other songs, that was the moment. We knew from that point that we will win the game. That whole atmosphere has never been recreated, but hopefully someday, I will be able to witness it again.

  • Can you describe the first time you entered the Indian team’s dressing room as a player?

    It was very awkward. It was in Bangladesh, it was a very short tour, and we played three games, and I think three games got over in four days. Like my career, the tour was also one of mixed emotions, as we lost the second game.Getting into the dressing room… in fact, it was even before the dressing room, when we went into a meeting room, all the senior players were there. It is the first time you are actually seeing the big names when it comes to Indian cricket, and you don’t know how to react, you just keep watching everyone, you are shy, you don’t want to speak a lot. You just want to figure out really what is happening.I don’t think I spoke much, I was just watching the senior players and it seemed that the whole room was filled with them, people who you at times dreamed of playing with, and that is the time you are actually sharing a dressing room with them, so it was an amazing experience.

  • You have played under some astute leaders in your career. What have you picked from each of them as far as leading the team is concerned?

    The way I play my cricket, my subconscious mind works more than the conscious mind. And for me, it was never about consciously grasping things from the captain but subconsciously taking in certain personality traits or qualities from every individual that was part of the team. When I started to play for India, I was extremely lucky to have a very good bunch of senior players around me to inculcate things from. What they taught me cannot be restricted to the captaincy box because it was much more than that. What I learnt from them was how to be humble, how to conduct yourself when you’re successful and how to figure your way out of tough times. Captaincy is a very small aspect of my life as a cricketer and their impact on me as a person has been much bigger.

  • It must have been a unique experience to first play under them and then captain them! Was it seamless from the start or did you have to adapt to the new hierarchy?

    I took captaincy as a job responsibility. I was given a certain role in the team and whatever I had to do to fulfill that role, I did. If anything, their presence made things easy for me initially because you don’t need to tell Sachin, Dravid, Laxman or Dada what needs to be done. Even during the fag end of their careers, they helped me as a captain by setting an example for the younger guys coming in. The young boys learnt from them what it takes to succeed at international cricket and they were groomed under them. At the same time they understood how important it is to maintain their own individuality because of which they were in the team. It’s the individual characters that shape the character of the team.

  • You were groomed under the guidance of the big five. They spotted a potential leader in you. It was Tendulkar who suggested your name for captaincy. Did you ever get an idea that they are seeing you as India’s next captain?

    No, that was never the case. I think it was more about the interactions that I had with them. For instance, whenever Sachin came on to bowl – and because he could bowl so many different deliveries – he would ask me what the best ball would be – seam-up, leg-spin, off-spin – depending on the wicket and the batsman. Perhaps the honest opinions I gave him at these points made him believe that I read the game well. Also, being the keeper, I was always close to the seniors in the slip cordon and had many interactions with them regarding where the game stood or what could be done to gain an advantage over the opponent. I think those were the conversations that led them into believing that I could be a good leader.

  • The ICC Test Mace, ICC Champions Trophy, ICC World Cup 2011, ICC World Twenty20 – rate them in order of importance to you as a captain and cricketer and why?

    It’s like asking a mother to choose her favourite child. All of them are important in their own way and I will tell you why. The Test mace: It was special because it was the result of consistent hard work of three years. It wasn’t like you play well for one tournament and you win. There was a lot that went into getting there and everyone, including the players, selectors and the support staff contributed to the rise. It wasn’t only about playing well on the field but also being fit on and off it. We needed our senior players to be there during tough times and for that they had to work hard on their fitness along with skills. The 2011 World Cup: This had a different challenge. Those 15 players who formed the squad not only had to play their best cricket for that period but also be in a really good mental state. They needed to stay calm amid all the pressures and constantly concentrate on the areas they needed to improve on, despite all that was going on around them. Fitness again was very important and difficult to maintain given the amount of cricket we play. The Champions Trophy, 2013: We were going through a very tough phase as a team and not many gave us a chance to win in the English conditions. It was a side in transition and the performance there showed the character of these young men. The 2007 World Twenty20: Well, what can I say about that? It was the beginning of everything that followed, for my young team and for me as a captain. I don’t think I will ever be able to pick one and say, ‘this is the closest to my heart’. They all are.

  • You have always been a captain that backs the players he believes in. Does it get tough at times to defend that backing when the player doesn’t respond with performances?

    What happens is for instance, someone is batting at No. 6 in the ODIs. When he is batting really well, he hardly gets six-seven overs because the top five have also batted well, and scores 30 odd runs. Then, one day he walks in to bat with 40 overs remaining, gets out cheaply and people say, ‘he got an opportunity but he fluffed it’. They fail to consider that he walked in when the team was 20 for 5 and so the pitch might be difficult or the bowling attack lethal. Don’t forget the pressure of those five wickets and the fact that he has to bat in a completely different way than he is used to, which is slogging away in the death overs. So, you have to be fair to him before just discarding him saying he hasn’t taken his opportunities. As a captain, when these things happen to a player you have backed, you sometimes, also have to accept that things don’t always go as planned, especially in an uncertain sport like ours. When you are going though a rough patch, all the good balls are bowled to you and all the outstanding catches are taken off you. Having said that, I also feel that sometimes it’s best to give him a break from the pressures of international cricket and let him come back fresh after regaining his touch in domestic cricket. If he’s really good, he will eventually make it at the top level.

  • How sports can be incorporated into an education system in a country like India?

  • The shots you play are unique but there is one shot people call it the helicopter shot – did you practise it as a young boy in Jharkhand when you were 16? Or is this a shot you have evolved over the years or does it just come naturally to you?

    I used to play a lot of tennis-ball cricket. [We would] play on a 16- to 18-yard wicket with a lawn-tennis ball, and most of the time the bowler tried to push in a yorker. That was the kind of shot you needed to hit for a six, because in tennis-ball, you don't have to middle it. Even if you are using the bottom-most part of the bat and if you hit it quite well, it always goes over the boundary.

  • You keep, you bat, you captain. Have you ever felt tired in 2011? That enough is enough, I’m going with my wife to Ladakh or somewhere for one month, away from cricket? Have you ever thought, “Let me take a break from this game for one month”?

    At times you feel tired. Again, what's important is that you can push your body. Unless you're mentally tired, I don't think you really need a break. And even if I was really tired, I don't think I have been in a position where I could take a break, because our senior players were missing because of injuries or some other things that happened. If there are players, senior players, who are there to play in the next series, and then if you take a break, it is fair enough. But if you see the last few series, we have missed most of our senior players. So you have to see the strength that the team has. And if the team needs me most right now, I don't mind playing a few more series before taking a break.

  • There are thousands of youngsters who want to be Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who idolise you, who want to be like you. What would you like to tell those young people?

    I think keeping it simple is very important. Of course, working hard, because I don't feel there is any shortcut. You can have a bit of luck on your side. But it's very important to realise at the right time what you are good at, whether you're good at cricket or any other sport or at studies. If you are good at studies and you want to play cricket, you may work harder than any other person but you may not achieve it. So it's something you have to balance in life, and be practical where you are good and then channelise your efforts in the right direction to be successful in life.

  • Do you call yourself a wicketkeeper-batsman or a batsman-wicketkeeper?

    When India is fielding, I am a wicketkeeper-batsman; when India is batting, I am a batsman-wicketkeeper! But, seriously, both are my main jobs. I have to specialise in both of them. I can't afford to be less than 100 percent in any of the two roles. I think they complement each other and give me my identity.

  • Which was the quality that helped you become captain of the Indian team?

    That is again a very difficult one (laughs), because a lot of senior players would have supported me. I was not part of the conversation when I was made captain of the team. I feel that looking at everything, maybe it was the honesty that I had, and my ability to read the game. Reading the game is very important, and even though I was one of the youngest in the team at that point of time, when asked about my views by a senior player, I was not afraid or hesitant to share my feelings about the game. It probably also had to do with the fact that I was quite good with the other team members in the squad at that point of time.

  • How was the feeling when you hit the ball for the winning six in the ICC Worldcup at the Mumbai Wankhede Stadium?

    There was no plan to hit a six, and I was not looking for a fairytale finish. It just came, I swung the bat, it went over the boundary and then there was a sense of satisfaction. It was just watching the ball, there was nothing in the mind, and after a few seconds, I realised that yes, I had done it. We were quite happy with the fact that we were the first home team to have won a World Cup, and also, we were quite relieved because for that whole tournament, there was a lot of pressure from everyone. We were quite relieved. I do not think we got enough opportunity to enjoy the win for whatever reasons, but I think it was really that moment, just before winning the World Cup, the whole atmosphere… it always comes to mind, and it will be tough to replicate that atmosphere. But as I said, I would love to witness it – whether it is while playing or from the stands, I would love to witness it again.

  • When the seniors were around, you had so many hands to guide you through your decisions as captain. But now you lead a very young team and you are pretty much on your own. How has that changed things for you?

    The best thing about the senior players was that, yes. with their experience they had a lot of ideas and suggestions to give me. But more importantly, if I didn’t agree with some things they said, I could tell them so. They were absolutely fine with it and after 10-15 minutes would again come up with a different idea or options and then leave it to me, give me a few deliveries to think about it and decide. That really gave me the comfort of knowing that I can be honest and straightforward with them without the fear of offending them. As a young captain with such stalwarts around, you can feel that pressure. But I was very fortunate to have the kind of senior players around me that I did. Because of them I was able to be myself and develop my own style of captaincy. Right now the situation is very different. Although I am leading a young team, I don’t like to give a plan that the bowler is not comfortable implementing. I might want a bowler to bowl a particular length but it could be difficult for him to bowl that length 80 per cent of the time. So I let the bowlers start off with their own plan and own fields and encourage them to think for themselves. If I give them a plan, they will take it and keep bowling in the same way without thinking. And tomorrow when they’re on their own, they won’t know what to do. So, I let them execute their plan and when it doesn’t work, I step in with alternate suggestions. That way they understand why their plan didn’t work, they discover what works for them, and their overall knowledge about their game improves.

  • Captaincy can be divided into two broad aspects – tactical and man-management. Which aspect have you found more challenging?

    Man management is slightly more difficult because you are dealing with human emotions which are complicated. Most times an individual starts to doubt his talent before the others doubt him. He doesn’t trust his own ability and the self belief goes missing. When that happens and you go to talk to that player, you have to wait for the right time and most importantly be very careful in choosing your words. When you’re in a bad mental space, you can take even the right thing in a negative way. So the communication becomes very critical. To get it right, you have to know the individual really well – what gets him ticking, what his interests are and how he perceives things. You get most these things from the way he behaves in the dressing room and with the other players. That doesn’t mean you sit in the change room studying every individual. It all comes through subconscious observations – the information keeps getting collected in the database and you can pull out a piece when you need it.

  • It’s well documented that you lead by instincts. Have you had to work towards finding the right balance between planning and being instinctive?

    I don’t plan a lot and believe in my gut feel. But what many people don’t understand is that to have that gut feel, you have to have experienced that thing before. For instance, you don’t know anything about bikes. I open one of my bike engines and keep it in front of you and ask you ‘which model does your gut feeling say this engine belongs to’, you will be clueless. You won’t have a gut feeling because you don’t know anything about the object there. My gut feeling comes from my past experiences of all the cricket I’ve played in my life and the situations I have faced. It’s not something you just feel for a moment without any logic. It is an educated chance you take based on your past knowledge, and I really believe in that feeling.

  • This has been a remarkable year for you. Did you feel at the start of 2011 that by the end of the year you would be a World Cup champion? Honestly?

    It was a difficult task ahead of us. Most of the people in India thought we would win the World Cup because we are hosting it. If you see the stats you see that the host country had never won the World Cup before this edition. There was a fair amount of pressure on the players but we were more worried about the fitness. We knew if the 15 that got selected, if all of them are available, and if they play to the kind of potential they have, we would win the World Cup. But it [the pressure] keeps on mounting. I still remember playing the Australia quarter-final. People thought that was the biggest game when it came to the World Cup. Then it was Pakistan in the semi-final. I remember travelling and people were like, "Win this game and we don't care about the finals." As soon as we won the semi-final, it was like, "You have to win this because it doesn't matter what you've done. If you don't win the final it won't be really nice." So I think there was pressure, which was the ultimate thing.

  • I never saw the pressure on your face. All these months, even in bad times, in England, you didn't seem to feel the pressure. What is it? Do you do yoga? Meditation? I often wonder if you practise Buddhism.

    I don't practise any of the above things. I love to be in the moment, I love to analyse things a bit. Very often what is important is to realise what went wrong, not only when you are losing a series or a game, but also when you are winning a series; when you need to realise which are the areas [you] need to work on. And especially, if you see the England series, losing players at crucial times - it never really went our way. Losing Zaheer Khan in the first game, Bhajji went out in the second, Gautam [Gambhir] getting injured in the first game, not being available in the second. All these things mattered. Of course we could have done slightly better. We were in positions in the Tests where the game was slightly in our favour, but without the explosive power you need to tame a side like England, it is a bit difficult.

  • The moment we all lived for was to win the World Cup, and there was a moment when you hit a six to win the World Cup - you twirled your bat, and for the first time I saw emotion on your face. Was it just all those days and weeks where you had kept it under, that you said, "I have achieved it"? For the first time, I saw you really explode.

    It was one of the biggest things for us as Indian cricketers, you know. We are playing at the top level. We all want to be part of a World Cup-winning side. The last time we won the proper 50-over version was 28 years back. So most of the people [in the] side wanted to win the World Cup, and as soon as we got into a position where we saw the World Cup coming into our dressing room, emotions started to flow. If you see, before the post-match presentation, almost every player cried…

  • You started off in Ranchi and you have achieved this. Has it been a difficult journey or has it been that you always felt… that you would be CNN-IBN Indian of the Year, win all these awards? That one day you would be the most recognised face in India. Has it been a difficult journey?

    I love being in the present. When I was playing for my school, the only thing I wanted to do was get selected for the Under-16 or the Under-19 district teams. When I was selected for the district I would think about the next level, which was getting selected for the state side. I'm a person who lives very in the moment. Frankly, I never thought that I would represent my country one day. Now I'm leading my country, so it's like a fairytale. I never thought I'd do all these things. I lived in the moment, I kept working hard. I never expected to get a call for the Indian cricket team in the very next meeting. "I love to go back to Ranchi. I have three dogs at home. Even after losing a series or winning a series, they treat me the same way. Getting up quite late in the morning, going to clean my bikes, spending some time with my family, my parents and friends, going out for rides with my friends and having lunch or dinner at a roadside hotel - that's my favourite time-pass" I said, wherever they select me, whatever they select me for, I will go there and try to do my best and put pressure on the selectors to select me. So I was never disappointed when I didn't get selected for India A or the India team.

  • Do you owe this to someone? Is there one person that you would say is responsible for making MS Dhoni who he is today?

    There are lots of people - because every small thing really counts. Of course, my parents never being against the sport. Time management was very important, and four to six was the time I used to play in winters. Summer, the days being longer, you could play for a bit longer. They never told me not to play or not to enjoy the sport. That was the crucial period, because if there was any stoppage from my parents, that would have been very difficult. So, parents, I think, are very special. And each and every friend who helped me go through the bad phases in life.

  • You got married last year and became the world champion. What was more difficult? Winning the World Cup or getting married?

    I think both of them are quite difficult to do. Because, all of a sudden you have someone in your life who lives with you 24 hours and you have to adjust to her and she needs to adjust to your kind of living. And I think the first six months goes by trying to understand each other a bit better. Being girlfriend and boyfriend, okay, you are [talking on] the phone for most of the time, but being together for 24 hours, you have to change your lifestyle.

  • How do you handle this pressure of cricket? What do you do to keep away from this pressure? Do you just not think of cricket when you are not playing the game?

    Well, that's what I do. I like to stay away from the game when I am not playing it. Of course, there has hardly been any break between series. We have been kept busy. That is also a good thing. We go back home for seven or eight days, and after three-four days we realise, "Oh, we are missing something." Cricket has been a big part of our life.

  • Was there a moment in the World Cup that you realised as a captain that you can win the cup? When did you first feel "I have a team that can win this World Cup"? There were a few moments in the early rounds when it looked as if we might struggle a bit.

    Well, we always had the kind of self-belief needed, because we have been playing good cricket in the last two- two and a half years, in either format. Our biggest worry was, like I said, the injuries list. With the kind of breaks that we have between two games, I thought we can manage with minor injuries. People having a few niggles can be 70-80% fit and be available for the next game. That was a worry, that if somebody gets injured in a big way, it can be a factor that could really restrict us in the World Cup.

  • The shots you play are unique but there is one shot people call it the helicopter shot - did you practise it as a young boy in Jharkhand when you were 16? Or is this a shot you have evolved over the years or does it just come naturally to you?

    I used to play a lot of tennis-ball cricket. [We would] play on a 16- to 18-yard wicket with a lawn-tennis ball, and most of the time the bowler tried to push in a yorker. That was the kind of shot you needed to hit for a six, because in tennis-ball, you don't have to middle it. Even if you are using the bottom-most part of the bat and if you hit it quite well, it always goes over the boundary.

  • You are making it sound very easy but to hit a a yorker for a six in the manner in which you do is not easy. So did you practise the shot in tennis-ball cricket or is it something you've become better at over the years?

    I think I became better. I never practised it. I used to use it in the games. And not to forget, I've quite often hit my left ankle doing that. Over the years you get better and better and I've seen a few other people trying to copy it, you know, and hitting their left ankle, and I'm like, "Okay don't worry, I also started like that."

  • You keep, you bat, you captain. Have you ever felt tired in 2011? That enough is enough, I'm going with my wife to Ladakh or somewhere for one month, away from cricket? Have you ever thought, "Let me take a break from this game for one month"?

    At times you feel tired. Again, what's important is that you can push your body. Unless you're mentally tired, I don't think you really need a break. And even if I was really tired, I don't think I [have been] in a position where I could take a break, because our senior players were missing because of injuries or some other things that happened. If there are players, senior players, who are there to play in the next series, and then if you take a break, it is fair enough. But if you see the last few series, we have missed most of our senior players. So you have to see the strength that the team has. And if the team needs me most right now, I don't mind playing a few more series before taking a break.

  • You've achieved it all: you've won the World T20 title, you've won the Champions League, the IPL and now the World Cup. Is there one dream still left for you in the game? Is there some ambition, some Mount Everest you still want to conquer?

    Well, why not do it all over again? If you don't really have a dream, you can't really push yourself, you don't really know what the target is. I think it is very important to stay focused, have short-term goals, not look too much in the future, and try to win each and every series that is coming. Of course, you won't be able to do that. But it is important that you prepare yourself in that way and try to give your best on the field. "It's very important to realise at the right time what you are good at, whether you're good at cricket or any other sport or at studies. If you are good at studies and you want to play cricket, you may work harder than any other person but you may not achieve it. So it's something you have to balance in life"

  • So 2015 is the next goal - the World Cup? The last one we won in '83 and then for 28 years we waited - from Kapil Dev - for Mahendra Singh Dhoni to arrive. So is 2015 a goal? Or is it series by series, tournament by tournament, match by match?

    It is series by series. If you see 2015, you know, still three, three and a half years to go. I don't really know where I will stand. Everything needs to go off well, and then by close to 2013, I will have to take a call whether I can really 100% be available for the 2015 World Cup, because you don't want a wicketkeeper in the side who has not played at least 100-odd games, at least close to 80-100 games, going into the World Cup. So that's a call that needs to be taken. But if everything goes off well, 2013 end will be the time where we will have to carefully study the body and see what can be done.

  • You seem to have mastered the art particularly of one-day cricket. Against England you didn't even get out this year, match after match. Is that something you've worked out - that there is a way you play and you've decided that's the way you're going to play?

    Batting at No. 6 or No. 7, it's a very crucial spot, and it's very difficult to consistently do well. That's why I have regard for Yuvraj Singh. Most of the time he batted at No. 6 and consistently scored runs for the Indian team. I think it's a crucial position, and also, what happens is, you give a youngster a chance to bat at No. 3 or No. 4 so he gets groomed under the senior cricketers. And there comes a time when I will say, "Okay, no, the next six months or half the year, I'd like to bat up the order and you guys come down the order and take the responsibility". Because at the end of the day they will have to learn how to bat at No. 6 so that the coming youngster bats at No. 3 or 4.

  • You've played with the likes of Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman, Yuvraj, Sehwag, Ganguly earlier, and yet you've gone on to captain them. Have you ever felt, "I'm captaining Sachin, all these big players"? You seemed a natural leader of men. Were you someone who was the boss, the gang leader from childhood? Have you always been a leader of people?

    Never, really, because I was very a shy kid, and the first time I captained was very late in my career. Very late means I was playing maybe U-19 or something like that. And I never had a fair amount of exposure when it came to leadership. I felt it's always important not to think whom you are leading. More important is what needs to be done, and to channelise the kind of resources you have to accomplish the target, to be successful at what you are supposed to achieve.

  • There are thousands of youngsters who want to be Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who idolise you, who want to be like you. What would you like to tell those young people?

    I think keeping it simple is very important. Of course, working hard, because I don't feel there is any shortcut. You can have a bit of luck on your side. But it's very important to realise at the right time what you are good at, whether you're good at cricket or any other sport or at studies. If you are good at studies and you want to play cricket, you may work harder than any other person but you may not achieve it. So it's something you have to balance in life, and be practical where you are good and then channelise your efforts in the right direction to be successful in life.

  • We all have heroes. Does Mahendra Singh Dhoni have a hero, someone who inspires him?

    Well, that's a very difficult one. There's someone like Sachin Tendulkar, who is a part of the side, whom most of the individual cricketers look up to. And not to forget Amitabh Bachchan, who has been the biggest thing when it comes to Bollywood, and he is known the world over. So if you look at him, still, at his age, he is working and being among the best. So these are the two people who are ideal role models, who have struggled through their phases in life and yet come out successful. The best thing is that they are very humble and grounded, which I think is very important to be a successful person.

  • How have the last couple of weeks been?

  • At any point in the campaign, were you a little unsure of Chennai's chances? Were there some moments, some doubts?

  • I recently interacted with Virat over an interview and he didn't really share the details but he said before the Quarter Finals against Australia in the 2011 World Cup Campaign, you called the entire Team before that knock-out game, no support staff and just had a chat. Before the Final at Wankhede, because what it meant to the Chennai Super Kings, did you have a similar chat? Did Captain MSD talk to this Team?

  • It's almost become a trend, you come up, you take the trophy, you almost just quickly give it away and walk quietly into the shadow. Why is it?

  • Is it also true that you, this is something that we have heard is that you spend maximum of the time with the players who are not getting a chance, it's for them that your room is always open. Do you almost take it upon yourself as a captain to spend more time with them?

  • Did Harbhajan Singh ask you why he did not bowl?

  • We have seen you over the years, you have always been that shield but this time you were really upfront with everything that was going on in your mind. Was there something re imagined or how much this Tournament meant to you, what was it?

  • A lot of you ex-colleagues who were with us, some experts, your dear friends said that things have changed. The Room Service order has changed, MSD is spotted more in the gym and I remember before this started you also said that yes, you have actually started lifting weights a little bit. was it all a consorted effort for this Vivo IPL?

  • Your Room Service order has changed right? What was it and what has it become?

  • We also saw MSD as a daddy a lot more, we saw these moments throughout the Vivo IPL. How much did you enjoy it and how much this has changed you as a cricketer if at all it has?

  • You looked up as a Youth icon, if you were to re-imagine this incredible country of ours, if there was one thing you would like to add and to subtract, what is your re-imagined India?

  • What do you think changed after the historic win at Lord’s?

    Well, we need 20 wickets to win a Test. In the absence of Ishant Sharma, the team was completely demoralised. We tried to compensate by bringing another Sharma in the team (Rohit), but then talent is temporary, Ishant is permanent (smiles). You always want your best players to be there in the face of the opposition, but unfortunately we had to move ahead. It was a team plan to unleash Rohit in the One-Day International (ODI) series than using up his talent in Tests.

  • What do you think of your captaincy in overseas Test defeats?

    Look at the positive side. I’m not far away from the losses record of Brian Lara and Stephen Fleming.

  • What are your thoughts about Virat Kohli’s form?

    Can only talk about his form on the field…

  • I’m asking you about his form on the cricketing field.

    Look, you want your top batsman to score runs, but Virat has had some problems with the offside. He used to commit offside errors even in football matches in the practice session. Actually, Virat is practicing hard within minutes of getting back into the dressing room. Last evening, I saw him score century in Cricket 2014 on his Playstation. I can assure you that things are looking good. It’s just a matter of time he gets back among the runs.

  • Has BCCI N Srinivasan spoken to you regarding this loss and the plan ahead?

    Firstly, he assured me that this loss will not affect my post as vice-president in India Cements. When you have the powers backing you in such a way, it’s a nice feeling. Srini mama understands that the boys had prepared hard all through the month of April and May in UAE and in India. I told him we’ll compensate in our next series. Srini mama is a legend. He is now the ICC chairman and he knows how to handle the team. He knew we could be in trouble against England and thus had planned on a home series against West Indies. What foresight!

  • Do you think playing five Tests in 42 days affected the fitness?

    No, not at all. In fact our boys had practiced hard by playing the IPL for two months. Playing for 25 days 21 days was no big challenge compared to flying every alternate day all over India.

  • What are your immediate plans?

    I think the boys have got enough experience now. It is time for us to focus on more important things like Champions League T20. But the big series will be West Indies. Shikhar [Dhawan], Kohli, Pujara, everyone can get back among the runs. Basically, we are following Modi’s mantra ‘Make in India’. In fact, the BCCI also sent us a letter by re-editing Modi’s speech. It had points like ‘If you want to play T20, come to India; If you want to see Rohit Sharma score runs, come to in India, if you want to see India win Tests by innings, come to India.’ This is in fact going to be our motto. Mark my words, all will be well when we take on West Indies at home.

  • Finally, what do you expect from the team in ODIs?

    Suresh Raina will be back in the team. So he will try to suck up the pacers’ energy by getting them to bowl short at us. And we’ll try to chase targets so that Kohli can get back in form. Even if our plan doesn’t work out, it won’t be of much harm. Unlike Tests where a five-day Test can end in three days, whatever happens, a 50-over match will still take a day to lose, so we don’t have to be ashamed like in Test series.

  • Thank you, MS, for sparing such valuable time.

    You are most welcome. I have plenty of time on hand (smiles)!

  • Leading India to victory in Australia must be extremely satisfying, given that no one had given your team a chance?

    Yes, it's been, but I myself have done nothing amazing—I had a great bunch here, 16 guys who rose to the challenge in this very difficult series. In any case, I believe the captain is as good as his players. He simply accumulates the pressure of the game and channels it to his players, and it's for them to respond to that.

  • Would you say that your backing of the young team has been vindicated by the win?

    Well, even if we had not won this series, I would have supported this team. The core of the future ODI team would be formed by these 17 guys here. And whoever is in good nick will be part of the XI.

  • You made some surprising decisions through the series. In the finals you opened the bowling with the raw Praveen Kumar and played Piyush Chawla.

    I wanted to spring a surprise on the Australians. Piyush had a good chance of playing the final league game, but I thought I'd keep him as a surprise for the finals. He can mix it up well, he's short and so even when he flights the ball, it remains relatively flat and can bother the batsmen. And Praveen can swing the ball both ways and is deceptively quick. The surprise element worked.

  • Was it right to publicly say that someone who's not been getting the runs would be played in the whole series?

    Before judging players, you have to look at the opportunities they have got. Yuvraj has proved himself to be a matchwinner for the last several years and cannot be dropped after two bad games here. On what basis do you drop him? His performance in Tests? No, ODI cricket is different. Same with Uthappa. He'd been batting at No. 6 or 7—(at that spot) you can't get more than 30 balls to play. So you need to back the guys who bat at these spots. I have to take tough decisions. I can't afford to please people—I have to think only about the team's interests.

  • How come you're not playing as many big shots as you used to?

    Growing up, I played a lot of tennis-ball cricket, I haven't come through the usual channels of junior state cricket. I started with one-day cricket, and that's the reason I play so many big shots. But you won't see me play too many rash shots. You want to see the team through, and that's best done if you stay there to finish the job.

  • You have grown into your role as captain over the last few months.

    Well, I had never led a team before, not even Jharkhand. So whatever I'm doing, my abilities as leader, I guess they were within me. They were never explored, and I guess that worked for me. But as I said, it's the players who make a captain successful.

  • You've repeatedly said that you play the game by instinct.

    Yes, though I do plan. But it's not that the day before a big game, at 4.30 in the afternoon, I sit down with pen and paper. Thinking too much can fatigue you mentally, and you don't want that before a big game. There is planning, of course, but as the game progresses, the possibilities keep coming into my head. This happens because we've played the game all our life, and understand it across a broad spectrum. Also, there is something different about how a batsman or a bowler plays every day. You have to to be willing to rethink the plans. There is risk in this, and if you are not sure, you discuss it with the others.

  • You seem to be very carefree, as if you are not really bothered by the pressure of being the India captain.

    Well, right from the time I made my debut, I have known that I won't be in the team for long if I don't perform. And if I don't perform, I'm willing to go back and play for Jharkhand and try to play for India again. But it's important to keep enjoying the game, keep playing well, because only that is in your control. If you expect too much, there is a possibility that you'll be disappointed.

  • Intense media scrutiny, public expectations, money and fame.... How do you maintain your balance?

    Well, I don't think I will be affected by all that. I don't really like being in the news apart from the sports pages. As for the money, whatever I've earned until now is enough for me to live a very good life. I have a good job with Indian Airlines. You have to know what's enough. I don't want to drive a Bentley or a Rolls Royce.