Mahendra Singh Dhoni will soon be returning to the grind of international cricket after a two-month break, with two Twenty20 Internationals against West Indies in Florida on August 27 and 28. But, before that, he made a trip to Chennai to unveil the Tamil Nadu Premier League (TNPL) trophy on Thursday (August 18). Excerpts from his interview with the TNPL website:
On working with Anil Kumble in the Indian team
Well Anil bhai, I have played with him, I have played under him and he’s a very special man. He’s one of the few players, irrespective of the conditions whether it’s (assisting) spin bowling or not, whether we’re playing abroad or not — he was somebody who was very aggressive when it comes to his bowling. He was somebody who put in a lot of hard work, who would prepare very well over a period and you know he’s just fantastic. The integrity part, the honesty part, the hard work, the affection and yes, the big change has been the sense of humour. He had a different kind of sense of humour when he was playing — you know if you understand him at the right time you know ‘okay he was giving that joking reply’ and he just keeps moving from there. So it will be nice. Already I think we are the No. 1 Test team so that’s very good for us and I feel we’ll have a special time.
On Virat Kohli’s evolution
Virat has been fantastic over the years; if you see what really counts is how you can improve your game. Right from the very first game that he played for India, he is somebody who always wanted to improve and he always wanted to contribute in the team’s win. And by contribution, he always wanted to be the Man of the Match. So I feel that he was always pushing himself — when it comes to fitness, reading of the game, execution of his plans — I feel that’s what makes him very special. After that, it’s how you lead your team and since he has the experience of leading RCB (Royal Challengers Bangalore) and also now that he is the Test captain for more than a year, I feel in a way he has groomed himself looking at all the challenges that he had to face. I feel that he has done an exceptional job and that he has a very bright future ahead of him when it comes to being the captain of the teams.
On returning to Chennai, his Super Kings home
It feels great to be back here and it’s been a while. I always feel nice being here. It is a city that has given me a lot of love and affection. I have played a lot of cricket here — my Test debut was also here and I have very fond memories. Also the fact that the people here just love me; the kind of reception they have given me every time that I’ve been here is just fantastic, so it feels good to be here.
On the TNPL providing a platform for youngsters
You have a fresh platform, yes you have other tournaments and everything that goes around and is part of the BCCI schedule, then it goes down to the state association and how they plan everything. But this is something that is relatively new and it gives the opportunity to a fresh set of youngsters, with eight teams there is a big number of players that are needed for the league to function properly. So it gives them that opportunity too, it allows them to play in quite a different scenario. Quite a few of them would not have played night matches so far so this is an opportunity for them to get a glimpse of that. Not to forget this will take cricket into some of the smaller cities, you know we are quite used to playing here and there are some other places where you have grounds but some of the matches will also be played in some of the smaller cities where it will act as a promotional measure where you try to bring youngsters into cricket.
On how the TNPL can be a stepping stone to the Indian Premier League
I feel also what it does in the food chain is that it becomes a feeding ground for the local association which is the TNCA and also once CSK gets back, it will be a feeding ground for CSK as well. The players who play well here since it’s being telecast by Star as well everyone will have a look at the players, and I feel this is something that has changed since the start of the IPL. All the franchisees are on the constant lookout for players who can give that something special to their team, and I feel this is where you can get it.