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The kind of heroes a person chooses has a huge impact on his life. And the day your name is mentioned in the same breath as your hero, you've bridged the gap between dream and reality. For MS Dhoni, that day came after he played his fifth match for India. No sooner did he butcher the Pakistani bowlers on a sweltering April day in Vizag to score a 123-ball 148, the cricketing world started to hail him as the next Adam Gilchrist.
Dhoni dedicated his maiden ODI century to Gilchrist, and a few years later, one got to know the respect was mutual. “The best compliment for me is when someone says they’ll pay to watch me play,” Gilchrist said. “And I can say that I’ll pay to watch MS Dhoni bat.” Four years have elapsed since the world’s best wicketkeeper-batsman made that statement, and the respect has only grown.
Currently in India to lead Kings XI Punjab in IPL 2012, Gilchrist spared quality time to talk about the man and the cricketer he so admires. Responding to all the comparisons between him and Dhoni, Gilchrist said, “MS is not the next Gilchrist. He’s the first MS Dhoni”.
Here’s more on what the legend had to say about Indian cricket’s most inspirational leader. A maverick, a genius
I am extremely impressed with him as a cricketer. From what I can see, he has always been courteous, friendly and a warm person. His calmness is his greatest asset amongst fine skills, great power and so on. It’s a difficult job to keep full-time in the subcontinent alongside batting and captaining the side. I think he has done a remarkable job. Everything he adds in different aspects of the game makes him a wonderful package for a cricket team. He seems to me like a very calculative and a smart cricketer who knows what he can do but doesn’t necessarily plan it all the time. He reacts to whatever happens in front of him. Of the current lot, Dhoni is my favourite wicketkeeper-batsman.
‘Keeper of faith
A lot has been spoken about his keeping and people say that there are potentially better wicketkeepers in India, which I am not sure about. For me, MS does a terrific job behind the stumps. I believe he is not a huge trainer when it comes to his wicketkeeping. I have been told that he does very limited wicketkeeping drills and practice, and that’s really interesting. I have seen him at a constantly acceptable level and haven’t seen him making blunders that have cost his team. A mix of fire and ice
His biggest strength in batting is his power. He hits the ball with great power and can dispatch a very good delivery out of the ground. The helicopter shot that he plays, is very unique and difficult to play. He seems to have taken a more mature and a stable approach of finishing the games. He can change his game in the last five overs knowing that no ground is big enough for him. He can clear the rope five or six times in the final overs, and all of a sudden the target becomes easy.
His bane in Test cricket
He is perhaps in two minds on which way to go in Test cricket. I would love to see him play his natural game, which is full of aggression and flair. He should just feel confident and go out and play his natural game. That’s where you can see match-changing innings from such players batting at seven. He comes after a star-studded batting line-up, and he shouldn’t feel responsible if they don’t perform.
A man of his own
I have been told earlier about him dedicating his first century to me and that really is nice. I feel thrilled to hear such a thing from any cricketer. He is very much his own man as far as I can see. The manner through which he came into the limelight was lighting fast. He very quickly formed his own personality and his own style. He’s completely different from me. He is not a great believer in training too hard. I, on the other hand, had to and wanted to prepare excessively before each game. He’s great at finishing the games in the limited overs format and I often batted up the order. He can adapt his game according to the situation – playing anchor or aggressor. I don’t see any kind of similarity between me and him. He is not the second Adam Gilchrist; he’s the first MS Dhoni.
Ganguly set to play against KKR in PWI colours at Eden
By Akshay Manwani
Kolkata 05 May 2012
Flashback to April 27, the day before Kolkata Knight Riders’ clash against Royal Challengers Bangalore at the Eden Gardens. As night descended on the City of Joy, Vijay Dahiya, assistant coach of the Kolkata Knight Riders, addressed the customary pre-match press conference before the net session under lights.
About halfway through the interaction, a while after Dahiya had been asked to talk about KKR’s plans for Chris Gayle, Virat Kohli and Co., a journalist asked the assistant coach, “What are your thoughts regarding the game on the 5th of May?”
The question took very few by surprise; it was clearly playing on all minds ever since the KKR v PWI clash was scheduled. After all, this would be the day when Sourav Ganguly, Bengal’s cricketing czar, would make his maiden IPL appearance in front of local crowds in a non-KKR jersey.
Dahiya seemed to have expected the question going by his measured response. “It’s about the next game; May 5 is still far off. We still have a couple more games in between. We are concentrating on them right now. We will cross the bridge when we reach it,” he said matter-of-factly. Straight-batted as his approach was, he would have found it hard to ignore the buzz in anticipation of Ganguly’s first IPL game at Eden after his exit from KKR.
Indian cities have been happy to welcome back their local heroes irrespective of whom they represent. Rahul Dravid’s return to Bengaluru early in the tournament with Rajasthan Royals was cheered with great zeal by fans at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium.
Ganguly, though, is a different matter. Unlike Dravid, he has always evoked extreme sentiments. Also, while Dravid is one of a handful of great cricketers to have emerged from Karnataka, Ganguly is Bengal’s sole representative in the club of the cricketing elite. A passionate fan from Kolkata summed it up best:
“I think the main reason why there is such a strong connect [with Ganguly] is that no cricketer from Bengal before or after him has gone on to achieve such great heights in international cricket. And there are none on the horizon either. Dada continues to be destiny's child. A range of qualities such as his prodigous talent, his fighting abilities and his lineage endear him to the common man in Kolkata. Most importantly, this may also be the last time they will be seeing their favourite son in action.”
At 39 years and 302 days, Ganguly’s glory days are surely behind him. His form in IPL 2012 has been scratchy – a batting average of 19.18 after 11 innings and two wickets at an economy-rate of 9.75 after eight overs of bowling. Additionally, PWI have been stumbling with just four wins out of 11 matches, which include consecutive defeats in their last four outings. A combination of Ganguly’s patchy form and the prospect of PWI’s early elimination from the tournament has perhaps fuelled this episode of dada-mania.
KKR captain Gautam Gambhir has been quick to downplay the hysteria, emphatically stating that only the Knight Riders matter to Kolkata.
“Sourav is an individual. We are playing against Pune Warriors and not against Sourav Ganguly. Whoever Kolkata [fans] want to support they are free to support. I have always maintained KKR belongs to Kolkata. There is no other team that belongs to Kolkata.”
The great English cricket writer Sir Neville Cardus always wished for Australian legend Victor Trumper to score a century in an English win. On Saturday, the 5th of May, the city of Kolkata, torn between their favourite cricketing son and their home team, may be hoping for a similarly beneficial deal – a Ganguly show in a KKR victory.