'No celebration once we win' - The day when MS Dhoni shocked Australians with mind games
MS Dhoni has been one of the calmest and wittiest cricketers in the history of the game. His calm demeanor has helped him read the opposition as good as anyone can in this world. Besides Dhoni's calm and composed nature, one more thing that MS is known for is mind games.
Ever since MS Dhoni got into captaincy, mind games have been a virtue of his captaincy. Thus, this feature will look into an interesting episode when MS Dhoni played mind games with Australia, the team which was known to have developed this side of cricket.
This episode comes from the excerpts of a journalist Bharat Sundaresan's book The Dhoni Touch, which was just released.
In this book, Bharat unveiled an incident how Dhoni urged his teammates not to celebrate the win vivaciously when they were on the brink of a victory against Australia in an ODI at the MCG in 2008 CB Series.
Everyone wondered why did Dhoni ask to do so. However, according to the book, Dhoni wanted to send a message to the Australian team that India's victory against them was no surprise and was by no means an upset.
It was only the 15th ODI game that MS Dhoni was leading India. The Australians were renowned World Champions back then. It was 4th match of 2008 CB series when the Indian team bowled out the Australian team for 159. India chased down the modest total with a loss of five wickets.
Excerpts from the book, The Dhoni Touch
In February 2008, India was chasing down a facile total of 160 against Australia at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). It was only the fifteenth ODI as captain for MS Dhoni, and he was at the crease with Rohit Sharma.
With 10 runs to win, he called for a needless change of gloves. In cricket, it’s generally with a pair of gloves that you see information arriving from the dressing room. Dhoni was doing the opposite though.
"He was sending a poignant message back to the pavilion. ‘Nobody will celebrate on the balcony once we win this match.’ Meanwhile, in the middle, Dhoni was handing down instructions to Rohit, on how the youngster should conduct himself while shaking hands with the Aussies once the match got over", Sundaresan explained in his book
"He wanted it to be as tepid as possible. ‘When they give their hand, just firmly hold yours out without folding it like an obligation, but don’t overdo it. And just stare blankly at them without any hint of excitement.' This was Mahi’s way of saying it’s no big deal.
My bowlers got them all out for 160 and we are chasing it down, 'usme kaunse badi baat hai' (there’s no big deal in it). If we celebrate wildly, the Aussies will be vindicated in their belief that this was an upset. We wanted to tell them that this is not a fluke. This is going to happen over and over again. The Aussies simply couldn’t handle it. They were shaken, a player from that tour revealed much later", Sundaresan continued.
This was back when the Australians were still at their indomitable best. Beating them meant a big deal to any opposition, that too in their own backyard at the mighty MCG. It was a period when Ricky Ponting’s team believed that every loss was an ‘upset’ and not just a win for their opponents.
India had dominated this particular match from the beginning. Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth, and Irfan Pathan had gathered nine wickets between them and shot out the hosts for just 159. India had more or less cruised to their target and now Dhoni the rookie wanted to give his all-conquering, world-beating counterpart his version of the cold shoulder", concluded Bharat.