Captain Mahendra Singh Dhonis aura is well-documented in contemporary cricket history but a hint of a halo emerged around him on Wednesday. Test-match eves are usually occasions when captains blabber clichéd lines on team selection and pitch conditions,but Dhoni toggled between the profound and the abstract. Having landed in Napier just a few hours ago from Auckland,a city famous for its sky tower,he was far removed from the regular pre-match mode.
It started with a simple question about Team India preferring to overstay in upmarket Auckland instead of coming to this small-town Test venue. The query triggered something inside him and he became a philosopher reassuring the sceptics. Mentally we are right there. When it comes to the mind it depends on what youre feeding into the mind. The mind doesnt know if its Napier,or what youre feeding it. You come and say this is Napier,it believes it is Napier; you say it is day,it believes it is day. If you see,its abstract, he said.
He then went on to give a new definition to a much used and abused in cricket form. People say hes in form,but nobody has seen form. Its a state of mind where you are confident and you think positively. Everything you think about,you think its very achievable.
For every question,no matter how short,he had a long answer. Supplementary to his state of mind explanation,he was asked how much Gary Kirsten or his assistant Paddy Upton were responsible for this thinking. On the threshold of a historic series win,he gave his longest answer by a mile,starting with: Frankly its one of the most difficult things to do when it comes to expressing it in words since its an abstract.
He then explained how the support staff have ensured each player was in a comfort zone. As he paused briefly,there was an attempt from the back row to ask another question. Not today,Dhoni had more to say: It doesnt end there. You have other players who contribute. There are lots of things that are working for us, he said,adding in an Oscar winners thank-you-speech tone the names of Robin Singh,Venkatesh Prasad,masseur Ramesh Mane and computer analyst Dhananjay.
Asked about the importance of the second Test,and the far-reaching implications of a win,he spoke about the importance of each step in a journey. We think more about the small steps rather than having a long look at what we want to achieve. We know that if we achieve those,the milestone,the long-term result,or what you want to achieve in the longer run,will take care of itself. If you look too far ahead,you get a bit relaxed or maybe you dont care about those small things that really matter in achieving the big milestone. We know its always the small step or always the next step which is more important,rather than thinking about what we want to achieve in a years time, he said.
Just once during the press conference did Dhoni show any sign of human frailty. After speaking about cherishing the one-for-all,all-for-one atmosphere in the dressing-room,he added: Touch wood,it remains the same.