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He flattens the morale of the biggest opponents with his mighty bat. He guides his team over the line with monk-like calmness. He fills hearts with pride, and the mantlepiece with silverware, be it the World Cup or the IPL trophy.
But what’s the enigmatic MS Dhoni like off the field? Where does the inspirational leader himself draw inspiration from? What superpower does he crave? Which movie does he dig?
iplt20.com found out what the Chennai Super Kings skipper is like when he’s not scripting wins for his team on the field. Sneak a peek yourself.
1. My life mantra is to live in the present. Try to learn a lot from the past and implement it in the present to make a better future.
2. My idol in life would be somebody like Sachin Tendulkar and Amitabh Bachchan. Not only have they excelled in their respective fields and made the most of their talent, but they are also great human beings whom people look up to.
3.I love Indian food. When we travel to places where Indian food is not easily available, I shift to Chinese and Thai. At times I also like burgers and pizzas, which are not greatly recommended by the physio.
4. My favourite beverage is Pepsi. I usually have it with a meal, either lunch or dinner. With breakfast I generally prefer fruit juice.
5. My favourite movie is the original Agneepath. I thought Amitabh Bachchan was brilliant in it and the movie was fantastic throughout. You see a hero that can’t be dominated, no matter what the situation is.
6.I love Hindi film music – songs from the ‘80s and late ‘70s. Kishore Kumar, Mukesh and Mohammad Rafi are my favourites.
7.My favourite gadget is my laptop because I play a lot of games on it. I also love small gadgets that work in different ways.
8. I haven’t come across anything thatI cannot live without. But in a broader way, if I get food, I’ll be quite happy. It doesn’t matter what kind of food it is as long as it’s good enough to feed me.
9. My style statementis casual. I’m a jeans and T-shirt person, but I prefer shoes and boots over sandals.
10. I have quite a few best friends in cricketand it’s very difficult to name one. Suresh [Raina], Robin [Uthappa], RP Singh and Irfan [Pathan] are a few.
11. The toughest bowler I’ve faced depends on the match situation and conditions. On certain tracks playing Muralitharan might be very tough; on others Brett Lee or Shoaib Akhtar would be a handful.
12. The easiest bowler I’ve faced is Yuvraj Singh in the nets, bowling right-arm leg-spin. I can tell you, it’s really funny.
13. My favourite non-cricketing sportsperson is Rafael Nadal. You can pick up a lot from the way he plays his tennis. He’s someone who doesn’t let the game go through easily. Even in a lost cause, he’ll make the opponent fight for that final point before he can celebrate.
14. My most memorable cricketing momentdefinitely has to be the 2011 World Cup-win. There were a lot of emotions flowing right through the tournament. We were playing in India and the number of people that wanted us to win created tremendous pressure around us. But the team handled it very well. At no point in the tournament did we take the expectations as a burden.
15. For methe most embarrassing cricketing moment was when I got run out off the very first ball on international debut.
16.If I weren’t a cricketer and I’d have to choose another sport, I’d have played soccer. If asked to pick an alternate profession, I’d have joined the army.
17.My favourite shot is the paddle sweep but of late I’ve started liking the helicopter shot, which is very peculiarly and nicely named by people.
18.My dream vehicle is the Hummer H1. They make it for the US Army but now they’ve stopped producing it for the general masses. So I bought a Hummer H2, which comes closest to that.
19.If I were granted a superpower, I’d choose a power through which I could help people be content with what they have. By that I don’t mean to obstruct their aims and tell them to stop dreaming. I’d just ensure they go about achieving their dreams in a legal and morally correct way.
20.If I were invisible for a day, I’d love to go all around India, roam on the roads and stations, try to steal some gol-gappas from the roadside stalls and do all crazy stuff. I’d make the most of those 24 hours and wouldn’t sleep a minute.
2009 Purple Cap-winner, paceman RP Singh is keen to swing the match with the bat too. Playing for the Mumbai Indians in the fifth edition of the Indian Premier League, the left-arm quick has been seen working hard on his batting in the nets at the Wankhede stadium. Known for his ability to swing the ball, RP swung the willow with ease as he lofted the bowler over the ropes in a practice game here.
In an exclusive chat, RP Singh told iplt20.com what it feels like to be part of the mighty MI team.
We’ve seen you work on your batting during the nets. Is there a hint or two there?
If one wants to survive in this format, one should be really good in at least two aspects of cricket and be able to perform a bit in the third aspect as well. Other than bowling and fielding, I should be able to contribute something in the third area – batting – as well. So keeping that in mind, our coaches have decided that we will practice batting every day. All the bowlers, not just me, are working on that. With a few hits last year, Lasith Malinga had won MI matches and so has Harbhajan Singh [earlier]. I would also like to change the match with the bat.
Some of your teammates from your former IPL team, Deccan Chargers, are now with you in the Mumbai Indians side. How does that feel?
It feels good that a few of us are together again. Pragyan Ojha, Rohit Sharma, Herschelle Gibbs, [Andrew] Symonds [who has] retired now and Robin Singh [coach] are also with us. It feels good that our combination [is back together]. We have all performed for DC so suddenly all of us have come together for another team once again. It is good for us too.
The Mumbai Indians had a good run in IPL 2011 and went on to win CLT20 2011. How do you see MI’s prospects at IPL 2012?
Whenever you are participating in a tournament or a big event, the aim is to be No 1. Once you have reached the final, No. 1 is the only important position. Instead of 100 percent, we will give it our 110 percent so that we can win the championship.
Your team boasts three Purple Cap-winners – Lasith Malinga and Pragyan Ojha and you. A heady mix?
Five of the top ten bowlers [in the competition] are in our team. It is good. There will be healthy competition amongst us. It’s likely that all five won’t play at the same time [, but you never know]. [smiles]. Having three Purple Cap-winners in one team is a big thing and it is a good sign that our bowling line-up has become stronger because of that. Apart from the three Purple Cap-winners, we have two or three other [strong] bowlers.
Last year you played a key role as part of the Kochi Tuskers Kerala team that beat Mumbai Indians in a high-scoring game at the Wankhede. This time you will be playing here as part of the home team. Your thoughts?
I have played on many wickets in the IPL and also during the domestic season but last year we observed that the MI wickets [at the Wankhede stadium] are a little better for medium pacers. The bounce and the nip, as compared to other wickets, are slightly better here. Last year I had performed well against MI. I had conceded 13-14 runs in four overs [in the high-scoring game] against MI because here the movement is good and the bounce is better. It was a high-scoring game but my strength is to swing the ball [and that worked]. The concentration will be on the length of the delivery and I know that if I get the seam position right, I will be able to swing the ball. I will try the same thing this time too. The wicket is a little better than the ones I have played on for the last two years whether with Deccan Chargers or Kochi Tuskers. Those were more batsmen-friendly while this wicket is a bit 40-60 – 60 percent for the batsmen and 40 percent for the bowlers. Those were 70-30 [70 percent in favour of the batsmen and 30 in favour of the bowlers].
It has often been said that the wicket here aids the bowlers. Why do you think that is?
That may be because of the breeze or the red soil. Whatever the reason, the wicket here is slightly better.
What does it feel like to be bowling alongside Lasith Malinga?
I have played a lot against him but we will play together now. I will try and learn to bowl a good yorker from him; it will add to my skills.
What was your reaction to MI skipper Sachin Tendulkar’s landmark hundredth century?
People are not even able to play 100 matches and he has scored 100 hundreds! He has achieved everything that a batsman can achieve. I don’t think these records can be broken. I think we are lucky to share the dressing room with him and we will also learn and grow from his experiences.
Does playing under Sachin Tendulkar entail additional pressure or responsibility?
I have played alongside him but this is the first time that I will be playing under him. There is always responsibility. [...] We have learnt a lot from him. From the bowlers’ point of view, hitting the right areas is important rather than just the number of wickets we take. How well we execute the plans that are made by the captain and support staff [shows on] our performance. If we are able to bowl to the plan we are successful. It doesn’t matter how many wickets we have claimed but hitting the right areas is important. There is no fear or pressure as such. We have learnt a lot from him and he has taught us a lot of things. The way he reads the batsmen is a little different [from how others do it]. [...] He reads the batsmen very well [so one learns from that]. On the field, sometimes the plans that we have made earlier don’t fit into the situation. Here the captain’s role comes into play. How he reads the situation, charts an alternate plan and gets us to execute it [is key].