Chennai: MS Dhoni once again displayed his importance for the Men in Blue with two back-to-back match-winning knocks in the 2nd and 3rd ODI against Sri Lanka. Not only did the former India captain soak the pressure from the hosts in the 2nd ODI, but also encouraged Bhuvneshwar Kumar to play his own game. Dhoni silenced his critics once again, with a gritty half-century in the 3rd ODI alongside Rohit Sharma who scored a classy ton.
Despite age against his side, the dashing right hander proved what value he brings to Virat Kohli’s team. Recently, Dhoni performances have been scrutinized minutely keeping an eye on the 2019 World Cup. Chief selector MSK Prasad’s comment about looking for alternatives if Dhoni failed to perform caused a stir on social media. However, in a recent event, Prasad hailed the Jharkhand cricketer’s commitment for the national team.
Addressing the young athletes at the Tamil Nadu Sports Journalists Association (TNSJA) annual awards on Sunday, chief guest Prasad revealed how Dhoni forced himself onto the cricket pitch in the Asia Cup match against Pakistan in 2016 despite suffering a nagging injury during a workout session.
"While training at the gym late in the night, Dhoni picked up weights and suddenly there was a catch in his back and (he) fell with the weight. Thankfully, the weight did not fall on him. He could not walk, he was literally crawling. He pressed the alarm bell, and the medical staff immediately came and attended him. He was taken on a stretcher.
"As I reached Dhaka, the journalists questioned about Dhoni and I had no answers. The game against Pakistan was crucial, that too, it was on a seaming track. So, I went to Dhoni's room to know what the issue was. He said, 'don't worry MSK bhai.' I even asked him what should I tell the scribes, and the answer again was 'don't worry MSK bhai.' I asked him whether we should call for a replacement, and he again told me not to worry", Prasad said.
Given the importance of the clash that was against arch-rivals Pakistan, Prasad arranged a replacement for Dhoni without the latter’s knowledge.
"There was so much pressure before a big match. The next morning I went to his room and he told me not to worry. But I felt things were not right. (As a selector) I couldn't take Dhoni's words for granted, so I called up the then chief selector Sandeep Patil and told him the situation. Immediately, Parthiv Patel was sent in as a replacement. By evening, Parthiv had joined the team
"I went to his room in the evening and he was just trying to get up from his bed. I asked him if things are alright. As per the Asia Cup rules, we had to submit the team list 24 hours before a game, so I had to check on him. He clearly said that he would play," Prasad added.
The selector once again went to keep a tab on Dhoni’s fitness but was presented with the same answer by the former Team India skipper.
"Again at 11 pm, when I went to his room, he was not there. Fortunately, I went to the top floor and I saw Dhoni was trying hard to walk towards the swimming pool. He was literally crawling. Dhoni said he was trying to walk. I was thinking how could he even think of playing when he could barely walk. Dhoni looked at me and said, 'don't worry, you have anyway got Parthiv without telling me. So, you are safe," Prasad recalled.
However, Prasad was surprised on watching Dhoni lead the team without any hassles.
"Before the team was announced in the afternoon, Dhoni was all dressed up for the game. He called me to his room and asked me why was I worrying so much? Then he said, 'even if my one leg is not there, I will still play against Pakistan'. This is what Dhoni is made of," Prasad concluded.
The Captain Cool stuck to his words and led the Men in Blue to an easy 5-wicket victory against Pakistan followed by a victory in the finals against hosts Bangladesh....