Exactly eight months after his cricketing epitaph was written by all and sundry following a series loss to Bangladesh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni took a jibe at his detractors saying that “Freedom of Expression” in India is used liberally by people when it comes to having an opinion on cricket.
“I believe, in India, everyone has an opinion on issues and especially on cricket. There is freedom of expression and everyone is entitled to an opinion. Play like this, play like that, do like this, do like that. The problem is cricket looks a bit easier on television than when we play it at the ground,” Dhoni said after India were crowned Asia Cup champions for the sixth time following an eight-wicket win over Bangladesh on Sunday.
“Well there will be a lot of criticism. If anyone asks me that what would you have liked to do, I would have said: ‘Playing cricket for India will be my first choice. I will never play for any other country’.”
But he also said that an individual should take a middle path when he is cornered, something which enables him to maintain a fine balance.
“Best for an individual is to take the middle part. Don’t get too bogged down by criticism and also don’t take yourself too seriously when you are praised. The media also balances it. If they take you up they will also bring you down. If you are up on a parachute, you can delay your coming down, but eventually you will come down. And then they will again throw you up.”
The Bangladeshi crowd and the media has been very hostile to the Indian cricket team in the recent past after their World Cup quarter-final loss.
“It would be putting a lot at stake, when you win nothing really. It’s like when you lose to Bangladesh, people would say like ‘You lost to Bangladesh’ and if you win they would say ‘It’s okay, you are supposed to win’. It’s just that there is a lot at stake but when you win you don’t take anything home,” Dhoni in his own inimitable manner put across a point in-front of the Bangladeshi media.
But knowing fully well how he can be misunderstood in this part of the world, Dhoni did his own ‘balancing act’ praising the opposition.
“But things have changed. It’s not a Bangladesh team of 2004. They have a fantastic squad, they have improved a lot and that’s showing in their performance.”
He agreed that any defeat hurts but staying in present is paramount.
“Staying in the present helps. If you start thinking about past, you always feel hurt but it’s important to forget about past. You can only take your learning out of it. We played to our strength and glad we did that as this was an important win.”
After his match-finishing act on Sunday, asked if he still feels that he cannot win matches regularly as he had said late last year, a smiling Dhoni replied: “More than me, the media said (laughs). (On a serious note) I can play big shots. It’s about consistency.
“A Suresh Raina or a Rohit Sharma can actually play big shots from the first delivery. In the sub-continent, it is very difficult to play big shots straightaway when you are coming down the order. The ball reverses and also is soft.”
“Out of 10 innings, I might be able finish in 5 innings but some in the team have strength to do that in 7 out of 10 innings. So I think we criticise individuals too much without giving them a fair run. We have a habit of throwing statistics but I would like to check the statistics of last 50 years (limited overs have been serious played only last 33 years) as to who has finished how many games for India,” concluded Dhoni.