Paddy Upton, India’s strength and conditioning coach at the 2011 ICC World Cup, says he has been in awe of MS Dhoni as a leader, as a captain who decided to promote himself over the in-form batsman, Yuvraj Singh, in the final of the 2011 World Cup against Sri Lanka.
MS Dhoni played a match-winning knock of 91* and concluded the final with a maximum ending a 28-year wait. Paddy Upton says that while the skipper was not in form in that tournament, however, he was amongst runs and was on top of ICC ODI rankings not long before the World Cup.
“Yuvraj Singh was very clearly the man in form. He had already secured the man of the series through his performances. And yet Dhoni chose to go and bat ahead of Yuvraj Singh in the final.
“Obviously, that is going to be a much-talked-about decision, it has been and will continue to be much talked about. And that was really just, for me an unbelievable model of a leader knowing when to step up, when it’s his time to be counted, for him to take the horse by the reins, the bull by the horns,” Paddy Upton was quoted as saying by the Times of India.
“And we all knew the fact that Dhoni hadn’t scored runs and Yuvraj had scored runs. (But) that was just a period of six weeks. Outside of that period of six weeks, we know that Dhoni is the man for the high-pressure moments. He has done it over and over in his career, gone out to bat, particularly batting second in the chase in a white ball format. And he is the person who is better than anyone in the world at seeing a team home and across the line and transferring pressure from himself and his team onto the bowling team, the opposition captain, and opposition fielders,” he added.
MS Dhoni made the call, Gary Kirsten backed his call: Paddy Upton
Paddy Upton reveals that the then coach, South Africa’s Gary Kirsten, instantly backed MS Dhoni’s decision to promote himself over Yuvraj in order to tackle the off-spin of Muttiah Muralitharan, whom he had played during his time with the Chennai Super Kings.
Upton reckons that if the move would have gone wrong, the talks about the final could have been different; however, he eulogizes on MS Dhoni’s self-belief and confidence as a player and a captain.
“In the World Cup final, it was time for the best in the world to step up and go and do what the best in the world does. And that’s exactly what it took. He made the call. It was a massively brave call. Gary Kirsten, without even a second of thought, backed his call and confirmed that ‘Yes, you go in next’. And, history will tell us that it was a great decision.
“If Dhoni happened to get a great delivery and he got out, we’ll be talking about it very differently. And particularly if Dhoni chewed up a whole lot of balls and caused things to go wrong. But that’s great leaders. They take the really difficult decisions for the sake of the team; they take the right decision. The right decision was the man for that moment needed to go out and do what he had done so often in his career before,” Upton reiterated.