Exclusive: Dhoni sticks to a bowling plan, even if it gives away runs, says Mohit Sharma
Historically deemed as a batting-rich side, India has bucked the trend and shifted the balance recently, unearthing a string of pacers who have perfectly complemented their famed spin attack. During a crucial phase of transition, Mohit Sharma was one such pacer who became a vital cog in the Indian side around the 2015 World Cup, leading the charts in domestic cricket as well as the IPL.
Out of national reckoning for a while now, the 30-year-old is focussing on staying fit and enjoying his game. At the 2019 IPL auctions, he was bought by Chennai Super Kings, making a comeback to the franchise after three seasons.
Sportskeeda caught up with the pacer ahead of IPL 2019, at the Advanced Hair Studio, a brand he has been associated with for a few years now. He spoke about a variety of topics, ranging from his CSK return, to MS Dhoni's pearls of wisdom, and his time away from the Indian team.
How do you feel about being part of CSK again and what are your expectations ahead of the season?
It feels really good to be back at CSK - it's like a homecoming for me. Not just me, whoever plays for a franchise for the first time, that side becomes special. I consider myself lucky that the first time I played the IPL, I got to represent the best franchise across the competition.
Playing under MS Dhoni is every newcomer's dream. I got to play under him for the first time itself, and went on to play for India after that. I feel extremely happy to be back at the franchise.
What's the one thing you love about CSK and Chennai?
It's difficult to pinpoint one thing. I love just about everything about CSK. However, there's one important aspect - the family environment they have created. Almost every franchise stresses on the importance of having that family-like environment; I believe that the aura that CSK has created is wonderful, and that's the best thing about the franchise.
Captain Dhoni / Keeper Dhoni / Finisher Dhoni. Which one would you choose?
Finisher Dhoni, for sure. The goosebumps that you get when he hits a six at the end, it's a different feeling in itself.
You've been out of the Indian team for four years. What have you learnt during that period?
There's obvious regret if you're not able to represent your country, there's disappointment somewhere for sure, but, at the same time, you also get to learn a lot about what you need to improve in your game, and how you need to put in the extra effort.
I was out of the team after injury, and I am still extensively working on my fitness. Beyond that, my Ranji season went well, so did the IPL. Playing the game is in my hands, I am just focussing on my cricket. I make sure that wherever I play the game, I enjoy myself and perform well. Beyond that, I don't think much, to ensure I don't create pressure on myself.
You made it to the Indian side post your stint with CSK. Do you think it's possible again (keeping in mind the WC coming up)?
I am not thinking along the lines of getting through to the World Cup from here. I am back with CSK, there's focus on contributing whichever way I can for my side, in any situation, and playing good cricket and entertaining the crowd. This crowd really loves getting entertained with good cricket.
There's always a long-term benefit if you're playing well and performing. But it's really important to enjoy the process.
What are the things you have focussed on during your time away?
Right now, it is survival of the fittest. At this point, one has to give importance to fitness; diet has become key now. I am consciously working on these aspects; just making sure I keep myself fit.
You were part of the 2015 WC squad. Is there anything special that a cricketer needs to possess to make it count in World Cups?
I believe that one shouldn't think too much. The World Cup comes once every four years, and to play consistently and be a part of the Cup, you need to keep yourself fit. If a player fit, they'll end up playing less cricket, which results in poorer performances, and ultimately costs them a place in the side.
It's also very important to enjoy the process. Results aren't in our control - the more one focuses on the process, the greater the likelihood that the result goes in his favour.
Captain Dhoni and spinners make a great combo. How does Dhoni handle his pace resources and what exactly does he tell a pacer before a match/situation?
Mahi bhai has a very basic funda. He doesn't say anything special to the pacers, just reiterates one thing - whatever tactic we discuss in the team meeting, we need to follow that plan. Even if that plan results in the bowler going for runs, it doesn't affect Dhoni. You might be going for runs, but he'll still clap from behind if you stick to the plan.
If you deviate from the plan, it becomes an issue. Dhoni will come and tell you to stick to the plan discussed. When it comes to his own game, or someone else's cricket, he explains things in an extremely simple way. He brings himself to the level of the person he is talking to.
Dhoni ensures that the bowler focusses on the process - there's no need to run here and there. The plan that has been made, and the line that has been drawn, it's imperative to stick to it and do everything within it. You can't go beyond that line.
Talk to us about your association with Advanced Hair Studio. For how long have you been associated with the brand?
It's been over three years with them - initially, when I started experiencing hair fall, I thought I should get in touch with them and not let it reach an extreme state. I know Sanket bhai for a long time, I spoke to him, and we did a couple of treatments, and the results are there for everyone to see.
The problem that was initially there has gone, and the confidence is back.
What are your thoughts about the significance of grooming for cricketers?
The pattern is very popular now, where you see different hairstyles on the field. It's become football-style now. Each player carries himself well, bringing out different kinds of hairstyles. I personally don't think these things make any difference, but it gives you a certain confidence.
It's important to diffuse pressure in cricket, you need to have that confidence in yourself. It varies from person to person as to how they gain that confidence. It (varying hairstyles) is a culture now, and everyone's carrying it.
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