Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been one of the most accomplished leaders in the history of cricket. The former India captain is the only player to lead their country to victory in a T20 World Cup, 50-over World Cup, and the Champions Trophy. On top of that, Dhoni also managed to make India the no.1 team in Test rankings. He has been talked about by several players as a master motivator and someone who understands the situation before anyone else.
Dhoni retired from international cricket in August and returned to the cricketing field in IPL 2020. But his return wasn’t a very successful one as Chennai Super Kings failed to reach the playoffs for the first time in their history. However, there was one positive that came out of the last three matches CSK played.
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23-year-old Ruturaj Gaikwad impressed everyone with his assured batting in the last three matches as he hit three consecutive IPL fifties – 65* off 51 (RCB), 72 off 53 (KKR) and 62* off 49 (KXIP) to take CSK to victories in all these games.
Gaikwad recently revealed how a conversation with Dhoni inspired him after he was dismissed for a duck in his debut match.
“I knew the challenges lying ahead in the MI game, and I had prepared to face the likes of Boult, [Jasprit] Bumrah and [James] Pattinson. But I think my dismissal kind of set the tone and we could never recover, getting bowled out for 110 odd [114 for 9],” Ruturaj Gaikwad told Sportstar.
“I was blaming myself for getting out off the new ball and being unable to give the team the start. It reflected in the field. I never let a ball slip through the legs or drop a regulation catch, but it happened in the field. It reflected in the field that my confidence was low.”
“Dhoni walked up to me and asked me if I was under pressure. He said, ‘We don’t want to pressurise you, but we have expectations from you. All I want to tell you is you are going to play the next three games without any doubt, whether you score a run or not. Try and enjoy these games and not think about performance.”
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“He told me not to worry about ups and downs and to enjoy the performance. After that chat, my thought process changed. Till then, I was desperately thinking about stuff like when will I get my first boundary in the IPL or when will I have my first impact, even with a 15-20 run cameo.”
“But after that conversation, it was a drastic change. I remember during that RCB game, I was only thinking about contributing to the team’s cause in that situation. I think the captain sensed my frame of mind, changed my thought process, and freed me up,” Gaikwad concluded.
CSK will now hope to overcome the blip in 2020 when they enter the field in IPL 2021.