The former India captain and the Chennai Super Kings skipper, MS Dhoni is known to be an astute person. Over the years he has shown his shrewdness in judging players, and situations on and off the field.
He once again used his tacit psychological prowess to assess opener Ruturaj Gaikwad’s mental state after he had a disappointing start to IPL 2021 with the bat. The right-hander has scores of 5 (8), 5 (16), and 10 (13) in the first three games, and could have been, in any other team, dropped for the fourth encounter.
However, MS Dhoni, whether for India or CSK, has established a niche for himself for backing players he believes in. Gaikwad’s 3 consecutive fifties at the end of last season earned him a longer rope this season.
I asked him ‘how are you feeling today?’ and waited for his reaction: MS Dhoni
The Maharashtra batsman repaid the faith in full as he played a sublime knock of 64 runs off 42 balls against the Kolkata Knight Riders on Wednesday at the Wankhede, helping CSK go past 200 and post a daunting total.
Gaikwad’s innings was laced with sumptuous drives and pulls; he stroked 6 fours and 4 sixes in a 115-run opening stand with Faf du Plessis.
MS Dhoni revealed the conversation with the opener which convinced him to continue with the 24-year-old at the top and not replace him with the likes of Robin Uthappa or Cheteshwar Pujara sitting on the bench.
“Rutu showed his class in the last IPL. You always need to assess where he is mentally. Once when he was off guard, I asked him ‘how are you feeling today?’. When you ask a question like that, you wait for the reactions, you see what’s in his eyes,” MS Dhoni said at the post-match ceremony.
“There was enough in his reactions to suggest he wasn’t rattled. That’s what I’ve been doing all my life (applying a bit of psychology) but in a good way,” he added.
The 3-time champions now are the table leaders with 3 wins on a trot, after losing their opening encounter. The meet Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore on Sunday afternoon at the same venue.