When we talk about cricketing legends, MS Dhoni’s name shines brightly, but his journey to the pinnacle of the sport was anything but ordinary. A man who commands respect not just in India but across the cricketing universe, Dhoni’s legacy remains unparalleled.
It was a match that sent shivers down the spine of cricket enthusiasts the age-old rivalry between India and Pakistan. The venue was Kochi, and the stadium was packed to the brim with fans chanting ‘India, India, Sachin, Sachin.’ The atmosphere was electric, but little did the crowd know that a new star was about to emerge.
Before that epic clash, India’s head coach, John Wright, called upon S Sreesanth to bowl in the nets. The tension was palpable as the nation’s hopes rested on the shoulders of established stars like Sachin Tendulkar. However, in the midst of the excitement, Dhoni, who was relatively new to the team, had a burning desire to prove himself.
Sreesanth shared, “Dhoni bhai came and spoke with us (support players). I have not shared this story anywhere. When we were standing there, Dhoni bhai said, ‘I want to express myself. I am not getting the chance where I can express myself.'”
As the conversation continued, Sreesanth and another player from Kerala engaged in a light-hearted exchange with Dhoni. They playfully told him, ‘Dhoni bhai, even we will come in the team in 1-2 years.’ Dhoni, with a characteristic smile, responded, ‘Yes, sure. Why not. Just keep working hard.’ Little did they know that this exchange would become a treasured memory.
“At the dinner party, we just had a casual interaction. But I told him, ‘Don’t worry. Something tells me (you will play and do well soon).’ I have the habit of motivating the players sitting on the bench. You won’t believe, the next match he played he scored a hundred. In Duleep Trophy finals, he got a chance and he scored a hundred,” Sreesanth revealed.
Sreesanth had a knack for motivating players, even those sitting on the bench. Little did he know how prophetic his words would turn out to be.
In the very next match, Dhoni seized the opportunity with both hands and delivered a stunning performance, scoring a century. This remarkable innings occurred during the Duleep Trophy finals, and it was just the beginning of Dhoni’s extraordinary journey.
From that point onwards, Dhoni’s career skyrocketed. He continued to score centuries and made himself indispensable to the senior Indian team. His journey was nothing short of miraculous, taking him from playing Duleep Trophy cricket in 2003/04 to winning two World Cups with the Indian team.
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Sreesanth, reflecting on this incredible journey, remarked, “Crazy journey man! So, from playing Duleep Trophy against him in 2003/04 to winning two World Cups with him. Unbelievable journey. That’s why it is said you should not hope; you should believe.”
Sreesanth also revealed a gem of wisdom imparted by Dhoni during the India vs. Pakistan match. Sreesanth Concluded, “I don’t know what we have to do. You don’t know what makes you come here, but you know what to do here.” These words not only capture Dhoni’s calm and composed demeanor but also his profound understanding of the game.