Mahendra Singh Dhoni announced his retirement from international cricket on August 15, bringing down curtains to a glittering career.
India’s most successful captain was known to be a man of few words with a cultivated image of being ‘ice-cool’ at all times. But on the field, the man called ‘Mahi Bhai‘ by his teammates was at his witty best. Sometimes it was a humourous observation, while on other occasions his wisdom brought out the best among his fellow players.
Here’s a look back at some of the wittiest, cheekiest conversations that were recorded of MSD on the stump microphones –
Guiding light for Kul-Cha
Dhoni’s role in guiding youngsters is often talked about and it was evident when the Indian team’s two young wrist spinners, Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal, burst on to the scene.
The duo often looked to their keeper as a problem solver. Take, for example, the first ODI between India and Australia in September 2017 where the stump mic picked up Dhoni helping Yadav dismiss David Warner.
“Thoda peeche dalo (pull your length back a bit),” he kept telling Yadav, so that the chinaman could induce an edge by making the batsman play the cut shot. Astonishingly, that was exactly how Warner perished. After the match, Yadav revealed how Dhoni helped him plan the dismissal.
— Star Sports (@StarSportsIndia) September 18, 2017
In the same encounter, Chahal was being milked for runs at the start of his spell. Realising that the Aussies could target the leggie, Dhoni asked him to keep it tight – Dande pe daal. (Bowl on the stumps).
When Chahal erred in his length, Dhoni promptly quipped “Tu bhi nahin sunta hai kya (You also won’t listen)?” As soon as Chahal altered his length, the voice from behind the stumps acknowledged it and said “Aise, aise dalo (bowl it like this).”
Chahal eventually had the better off Glen Maxwell.
Another example of Dhoni being an excellent reader of the game came in a video where he is heard anticipating the batsman’s next move and tells the bowler to make minute adjustments. To get rid off Lockie Ferguson, Dhoni asks Yadav to bowl from behind the crease making the batsman reach for the delivery. The batsman is beaten and Dhoni stumps the batsman as he inches out of the crease.
In the same innings, he gave Yadav a step-by-step guide on how to dismiss Trent Boult.
Dhoni is heard saying: “Ye rokega, dusri side se daal sakta hai. Yaha se andar nai ayegi.” (He will defend, try bowling from around the wicket.)
Kuldeep switches over to around the wicket and gets his man.
This is GOLD
MSD behind the stumps (also behind the mic)pic.twitter.com/6kMijXIysh
— Cricketopia (@CricketopiaCom) August 17, 2020
But with Dhoni behind the stumps there was also no shortage of wisecracks, streetsmart advice and at times, even a dig at Indian bowlers.
“Oy Sree! Udhar girlfriend nahin hai”
Dhoni, the master tactician was setting the field and asked Sreesanth to move a bit squarer. However, Sreesanth missed his captain’s direction to which Dhoni says, “Oye Sree girlfriend nahi hai udhar, idhar aaja thoda“(Sreesanth your girlfriend is not there, please come a little squarer).
Asking Ashwin to bowl “the Tarak Mehta”
R Ashwin and Dhoni had a code word between them and it was used to keep the batsman guessing. Whenever Dhoni wanted the off-spinner to surprise the batsman with the wrong-un (ulta), he would call for the “Tarak Mehta” inspired by the popular Hindi serial “Tarak Mehta Ka Ulta Chasmah’.
“Pujara ko udhar taali bajane nahi rakha hai”
During a Test match between India and New Zealand in 2014, Brendon McCullum and BJ Watling were batting. Jadeja, who had the ball in hand, was going for runs and this irked Dhoni.
“Jaddu thoda off mein daal. Pujara ko udhar taali bajane nahi rakha hai“(Jadeja bowl on the off stump. Pujara is not standing there to clap),” Dhoni is heard
Jadeja immediately changed his line and started bowling on the off-stump. On another occasion, Dhoni imitates a commentator’s description of Jadeja’s bowling, saying, “Bharpoor bowling ka pradarshan karte hue Ravindra Jadeja!”
“Agar chauka gaya toh mera risk hai, tu bindaas daal”
Dhoni always backed his players no matter how tough the situation got. This time it was when India was facing Australia in 2012.
On day two of the second Test, seamer Ishant Sharma kept struggling with his line and length. It was either too short or too wide. Dhoni sensing trouble went up to Ishant and said, “Agar chauka gaya toh mera risk hai, tu bindaas daal. Tujhe agar ek fielder aur chahiye toh main bula lunga. Mujhe koi problem nahi hai.”(It’s on me if the ball gets hit for a boundary, you just bowl. I’ll place another fielder too if you want).
Not only did Sharma get better in the spell but also went on to pick up three wickets in the innings.
“Cheeku bowler mat bann”
In a match against England during the 2016 T20 World Cup, Virat Kohli was asked to roll his arm over as India went in with four bowlers. In his first over, Kohli managed to get Kevin Pietersen with a wide yorker.
An excited Kohli, after getting the wicket, started trying different variations. However, one was wide down the leg side and yielded byes as well.
Dhoni immediately walked up to Kohli and said: “Jitna bola hai utna kar, bowler mat bann” (Do what you are being told, don’t try to be a bowler).
There was never a dull moment with Dhoni behind the stumps and fans will be poorer for such banter in international cricket.