CHENNAI: MS Dhoni, India’s most successful captain, has the knack of getting the best out of his players. On the field, one may not see him speak much with the players, but off the field, he does interact and tells the concerned player what is his strengths and weaknesses are.
He has an eye to spot talent and scores of cricketers right from Manpreet Gony to Washington Sundar have benefited from his tutoring. For many cricketers, net sessions are tiring and boring, but for Dhoni it’s a place where he chooses to identify talent.
One former teammate of Dhoni has an interesting story to say.
“Once when a player’s name came up for selection, Dhoni was not impressed by the choice. His (Dhoni) logic was that the player (bowler) hardly got anyone out in the nets, so he believed that the bowler will not be that effective in the match. To give him his due, Dhoni was right in his observation as the bowler failed in the match. So this is when many youngsters learnt to take net sessions seriously.”
Murugan Ashwin was a regular net bowler to CSK players for two years before being picked by Rising Pune Supergiant last season for Rs 4.5 crores.
Dhoni was impressed by him and promoted the youngster when he played under him for Pune. This year it is Washington’s turn to benefit. Dhoni’s support and inputs have helped him evolve as an impact bowler. His effort against Mumbai in the first qualifier helped Pune reach the final. On Sunday, he will once again look to play his part for Steve Smith & Co.
“Washington is young, talented and has the maturity beyond his age. He is calm, composed and quietly knows how to go about his job. I guess Dhoni who has the knack of getting out the best from youngsters, must have been a big influence on Washington. I hope he does well in the final of the IPL on Sunday,” opined S Sharath, chairman of the Tamil Nadu selection committee.
Washington has excelled in the powerplays bowling bravely to the likes of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Brendon McCullum. His nagging accuracy, with the subtle turn, has foxed many a seasoned campaigner.
“His bowling is deceptive, and at times difficult to pick. He uses his height effectively and bowls at a good length and hits the deck in the right areas. Plus, his subtle turn and variations gives him good purchase,” explained Sharath, insisting that he has not seen such a confident youngster bowl that effectively in the slam-bang version of the game in a long time.