MS Dhoni's Midas Touch: Nurturing Champions and Building Successful Teams

MS Dhoni’s Midas Touch: Nurturing Champions and Building Successful Teams

MS Dhoni, the legendary Indian cricketer and former Chennai Super Kings (CSK) captain, is renowned for his exceptional leadership skills and ability to nurture young talent. In a recent episode of Ravichandran Ashwin’s YouTube channel, former Australian batsman Michael Hussey, who has a close association with CSK and Dhoni, shared his insights on Dhoni’s remarkable ability to create champion players and successful teams.

Hussey emphasized Dhoni’s keen understanding of what it takes to foster a winning environment and assemble a team that can achieve long-term success. He highlighted Dhoni’s unwavering trust in his players, which has been a key factor in CSK’s consistent performance over the years.

“He looks for good players to play that particular role, but he also looks for good people,” Hussey said. “And once he has got those good people, he will really back them to the hilt.”

Hussey cited the example of Shane Watson, who struggled for form during a season with Australia but was given unwavering support by Dhoni. Watson eventually repaid Dhoni’s faith by delivering crucial performances in the playoffs.

“Dhoni just said ‘no, we are sticking with him, he will come good’,” Hussey recalled. “And sure enough, he came good when we made the playoffs.”

Hussey also praised Dhoni’s ability to alleviate pressure from players, particularly young Indian players. He attributed this to Dhoni’s unique perspective on the game and his exceptional interpersonal skills.

“He’s got an amazing ability to take pressure off players, particularly young Indian players,” Hussey said. “He’s got an amazing perspective on the game; the way he treats people and players is very special. You feel like you’re backed, you’re trusted and you’re loved very much.”

Despite handing over the CSK captaincy to Ruturaj Gaikwad ahead of the ongoing IPL 2024 season, Dhoni remains a guiding force for the team. His presence and experience continue to inspire the players and contribute to CSK’s success.

IPL's Growth Raises Concerns for Ashwin: 'Cricket Takes a Backseat'

IPL’s Growth Raises Concerns for Ashwin: ‘Cricket Takes a Backseat’

Ravichandran Ashwin, India’s star spinner, has expressed his concerns about the IPL’s rapid growth, stating that it has become so “huge” that cricket sometimes takes a backseat.

Ashwin highlighted the challenges faced by players in managing their time between training sessions and advertisement shoots during the two-month-long competition. He reflected on the remarkable evolution of the IPL since its inception in 2008 and emphasized the demanding nature of the player’s lifestyle on the road during the tournament.

“As a youngster coming into the IPL, I was only looking to learn from the big stars, I did not think about how the IPL would look 10 years down the line. I can say that, having been in the IPL for so many seasons, the IPL is huge,” he said on the Club Prairie Fire podcast.

“Sometimes I wonder if IPL is even cricket, because sport takes a backstage (during IPL). It’s so huge. We do end up practicing in advertisement shoots and sets! That’s where the IPL has gotten to,” said Ashwin, who is an important member of the Rajasthan Royals squad.

The 37-year-old, who achieved the milestone of 500 Test wickets recently, commenced his IPL journey with the Chennai Super Kings. His impressive performances in the IPL played a crucial role in earning him opportunities to represent India across formats.

In 2022, the IPL media rights were secured for a staggering Rs 48,390 crore for a five-year cycle, solidifying its position as the second most valuable league in the sporting world in terms of per-match value, only behind the NFL. This astronomical figure surpassed renowned leagues such as the English Premier League, NBA, and Major League Baseball.

Ashwin spoke about his early days in the IPL and how the event exceeded all expectations. “No one envisaged the kind of growth that the IPL has had. I still remember a conversation I had with Scott Styris when we were both at CSK. He told me that when he was playing for the Deccan Chargers in the initial seasons of IPL, he did not think the IPL would last for more than two-three years.”

“Initially, there was a big influx of money,” Ashwin said on the podcast hosted by former England captain Michael Vaughan and Australian great Adam Gilchrist.

The IPL’s profile has been further elevated by the astronomical deals secured by players during auctions. In the latest auction, Australian pacer Mitchell Starc made headlines by clinching a record deal worth Rs 24.74 crore with the Kolkata Knight Riders. This significant acquisition underscores the league’s ability to attract top-tier talent and solidifies its status as one of the most lucrative and sought-after cricket tournaments globally.

“Look, over the years you’d think that the IPL is one tournament that is largely won at the auctions. I believe the auctions are a very important facet of this league, but the beauty of the IPL is that franchises have evolved into getting their teams right.”

“There’s no one way to skin a cat. No one player is bigger than the team. No one slot is bigger than others. The teams invest wisely,” said Ashwin who has also represented Punjab Kings and Delhi Capitals in the IPL.

Pant and Ashwin's Heartfelt Exchange at RR Practice Session

Pant and Ashwin’s Heartfelt Exchange at RR Practice Session

Rishabh Pant and Ravichandran Ashwin’s Heartwarming Exchange at RR Practice Session

Ahead of the highly anticipated Indian Premier League (IPL) clash between Rajasthan Royals (RR) and Delhi Capitals (DC) in Jaipur on March 28, a touching moment unfolded during the practice session involving Indian teammates Rishabh Pant and Ravichandran Ashwin.

RR, who commenced their campaign with a 20-run victory over Lucknow Super Giants, were eager to maintain their winning momentum. DC, on the other hand, suffered a defeat to Punjab Kings by four wickets in their opening match.

During the practice session, Ashwin stood behind Pant’s practice net, offering words of encouragement to boost his spirits. The accomplished wicketkeeper-batsman, who recently returned to competitive cricket after surviving a life-threatening accident in December 2022, wasted no time in displaying his prowess, sending the ball soaring into the sky.

This exchange between the two Indian cricket stars evoked memories of the lively interactions they often share while representing India. It’s a familiar sight to witness Pant cheering on Ashwin from behind the stumps, saying, “Come on, Ash! Come on Ash!”.

However, on this occasion, the roles reversed. Pant’s comeback innings during DC’s match against Punjab saw him scoring 18 runs off 13 balls, including two fours. The dynamic wicketkeeper-batsman will be eager to surpass his performance this time and captivate the Jaipur audience.

The heartwarming exchange between Pant and Ashwin highlights the camaraderie and support that exists within the Indian cricket team. It also serves as a reminder of the resilience and determination of Pant, who has overcome adversity to return to the field.

As the IPL season progresses, fans can expect to witness more such moments of sportsmanship and camaraderie, both on and off the field.

Sandeep Sharma Shines as Rajasthan Royals Triumph in IPL Opener

Sandeep Sharma Shines as Rajasthan Royals Triumph in IPL Opener

Rajasthan Royals (RR) spinner Ravichandran Ashwin heaped praise on right-arm seamer Sandeep Sharma for his exceptional performance in their IPL 2024 opener against Lucknow Super Giants (LSG). Sharma’s economical spell of 3 overs for 22 runs, including a wicket, played a crucial role in RR’s 20-run victory at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium.

Ashwin highlighted the impact of Sanju Samson and Riyan Parag’s 93-run partnership, which laid the foundation for RR’s competitive total of 193/4. Samson’s unbeaten 82 off 52 balls, studded with six maximums and three fours, was a standout performance. Parag contributed a valuable 43 off 29 balls, including three sixes.

“Sanju and Riyan batted really well,” Ashwin said. “But I felt we were 10 runs short, with so many impact players coming up in the form of Hetmyer and Jurel.”

Ashwin also praised Sharma’s consistency and work ethic. “Sandy has been a top-5 bowler (in the IPL),” Ashwin said. “He’s a character, does the dirty work for us, did a lot to cover for Prasidh in the last season as well. I see him as a fighter.”

In the chase, LSG was reduced to 11/3 before Deepak Hooda and KL Rahul steadied the innings. However, RR bowlers Trent Boult, Sandeep, Ashwin, Nandre Burger, and Yuzvendra Chahal combined to restrict LSG to 173/6, with Nicholas Pooran’s 64 off 41 balls proving insufficient.

Boult was the pick of the bowlers with 2/35, while Sandeep, Ashwin, Burger, and Chahal took a wicket each. Samson was adjudged ‘Player of the Match’ for his match-winning half-century.

Laxman Sivaramakrishnan Shuts Down Racist Troll, Highlights Racism in Society

Laxman Sivaramakrishnan Shuts Down Racist Troll, Highlights Racism in Society

Former Indian cricket team spinner Laxman Sivaramakrishnan has recently faced a racist remark on social media, to which he responded with a powerful statement. Sivaramakrishnan posted a picture of himself from the Ayyappan temple in Mahalingapuram, Tamil Nadu, which included an elephant. A user commented, “Hii sir that elephant is more visible in night than you.”

Sivaramakrishnan responded with dignity and assertiveness, stating, “Yes I am dark” and adding, “It’s a temple festival and you people are so cheap.” The user made further comments, which were later deleted.

Sivaramakrishnan’s response has been widely praised for its strength and grace. It highlights the ongoing issue of racism in society and the importance of standing up against it.

In a separate incident, Sivaramakrishnan expressed his disappointment with the treatment he received from veteran Indian cricket team spinner Ravichandran Ashwin. Sivaramakrishnan claimed that Ashwin disconnected his calls and did not reply to his congratulatory messages on his 100th Test milestone.

“Tried calling him a few times to wish him for his 100th Test. Just cut off my call. Sent him a message, no reply. That’s the respect we former cricketers get,” Sivaramakrishnan wrote on social media.

Meanwhile, in the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024, Chennai Super Kings head coach Stephen Fleming praised Rachin Ravindra for his impressive debut performance against Royal Challengers Bengaluru. Ravindra scored 37 runs off just 15 balls, including three fours and three sixes.

Fleming emphasized the importance of encouraging players to play to their strengths and creating a comfortable environment for them. He also praised Ravindra’s ability to handle the pressure of his debut match.

Ashwin Surprised by SRH's Cummins Captaincy Appointment

Ashwin Surprised by SRH’s Cummins Captaincy Appointment

Ravichandran Ashwin, India’s off-spinner, has expressed surprise over SunRisers Hyderabad’s (SRH) decision to appoint Pat Cummins as captain. SRH had previously sacked Aiden Markram, who led their sister franchise, SunRisers Eastern Cape (SEC), to consecutive SA20 league titles.

Ashwin stated that he was shocked by the move, especially considering Markram’s success with SEC. He suggested that SRH could have benefited from Markram’s experience and leadership skills.

“SunRisers have hit two titles back to back at the SA20. They’ve done it with two extraordinary teams. I was quite shocked, actually. They have made Pat Cummins the captain. I was having a small hunch that they would go with Markram. Markram had an extraordinary season for his franchise in the SA20. The cross-pollination would have been amazing,” Ashwin said.

While acknowledging Cummins’ credentials as a world-class player, Ashwin raised concerns about the potential for a “problem of plenty” in SRH’s leadership department. He suggested that the franchise could struggle to accommodate the leadership aspirations of multiple star players.

“Pat Cummins is a no-brainer. But with Cummins as a captain, they will have a problem of plenty in the team with so many stars. Keeping Travis Head as backup, they would go for Markram, Pat Cummins, (Heinrich) Klaasen, and (Wanindu) Hasaranga. Because Hasaranga is a crucial facet for them. If they decide Hasaranga is not needed, in some venues they can play (Fazalhaq) Farooqi or Marco Jansen instead of him. This is what I thought because it makes sense,” he added.

Cummins, who has never captained a team in T20 cricket, expressed his excitement about leading SRH in IPL 2024. He emphasized the importance of an aggressive start to the season and praised the team’s young talent.

“So, a bit of planning to go and then just wanna get off to a really good start. T20s are hard. Kolkata’s a good team, but I think just wanna see a really aggressive, start to the season,” Cummins said.

SRH will begin their IPL 2024 campaign against Kolkata Knight Riders at the Eden Gardens.

Ashwin Raises Concerns Over Pathirana's Bowling Action

Ashwin Raises Concerns Over Pathirana’s Bowling Action

Ravichandran Ashwin, the Indian spin maestro, has expressed concerns over the bowling action of Sri Lankan pacer Matheesha Pathirana, highlighting the potential risks to his physical well-being.

Pathirana, who impressed for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in their title-winning IPL campaign last year, has drawn comparisons to Lasith Malinga due to his slingy action. However, Ashwin believes that Pathirana’s lower angle of release puts excessive strain on his back and front leg.

“His angle of release is much lower, which puts immense strain on his back,” Ashwin said on his YouTube channel. “His front leg literally collapses when he releases the ball; the core gets worked up too much, and it is very strenuous.”

In contrast, Ashwin praised Malinga’s side-on action, which he described as “beautiful” and less taxing on the body. “Lasith Malinga goes for a beautiful side-on position. His back and feet will be parallel to the crease,” Ashwin explained.

Ashwin also noted that Pathirana’s action is causing him to get into “dangerous positions and complications.” He added, “I understand the complexity of facing him is different, but he is facing different problems now. This might be just his early stages, and his body needs to fill up more, but he is getting into some dangerous positions and complications.”

Pathirana’s fitness is currently a concern after he suffered a hamstring injury during the second T20I against Bangladesh. His participation in the upcoming IPL season, which begins on March 22, remains uncertain.

Ashwin’s analysis highlights the importance of proper bowling technique to prevent injuries and ensure longevity in the sport. Pathirana’s unique action may give him an advantage on the field, but it also raises questions about its long-term sustainability.

Ashwin's 100th Test Overshadowed by Family Emergency

Ashwin’s 100th Test Overshadowed by Family Emergency

Ravichandran Ashwin’s 100th Test, a milestone in his illustrious career, was marred by a personal crisis. The veteran spinner had to leave the India vs England Test series abruptly due to a medical emergency involving his mother, Chitra.

Ashwin’s 500th Test wicket, a landmark achievement, was overshadowed by the news of his mother’s condition. Hours after claiming the scalp of England’s Zak Crawley, Ashwin received the distressing news and immediately departed from the team camp.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) released a statement expressing support for Ashwin during this difficult time. “Ravichandran Ashwin has withdrawn from the Test squad, effective immediately due to a family medical emergency. In these challenging times, the BCCI and the team fully supports Ashwin,” the statement read.

Ashwin later recounted the harrowing experience on his YouTube channel. “I realized I was not getting calls from my parents or wife. I called my wife around 7 PM, asking why my parents weren’t answering my call. Her voice was a bit shaky. She asked me to come separately from the crowd and told me that my mother collapsed after a headache,” he said.

Ashwin’s emotional state was evident in his social media posts. In a humorous tweet, he shared a comparison of his match figures in his debut Test and his 100th Test, both of which were identical. “No improvement after all these years of playing the game. ‘Only my mom can say things like this,'” he wrote.

Despite the personal setback, Ashwin’s commitment to the team remained unwavering. He returned to the squad after his mother’s condition stabilized and played a crucial role in India’s victory in the series.

Ashwin’s experience highlights the challenges that athletes face in balancing their professional and personal lives. The support of the BCCI and his teammates during this difficult time is a testament to the importance of human connection and empathy in the world of sports.

Ashwin Slams England’s “Bazball” Approach as “Defenseless Cricket”

Ravichandran Ashwin, the veteran Indian spinner, has criticized England’s “Bazball” approach, calling it “defenseless cricket.” Ashwin’s comments come after India’s 4-1 victory in the recently concluded five-match Test series against England.

Ashwin took particular issue with James Anderson’s claim ahead of Day 4 of the second Test that England would chase down the 399-run target within 60 overs. The result was quite different, as the visitors were bowled out and defeated comprehensively. Ashwin expressed surprise at the over-the-top statement, saying that although it was a show of positive mindset, it “went too far.”

“James Anderson went into a press conference in the second Test after winning the first considerably well. Much respect to them for winning that. He told the press that even if the 4th innings target was 500 or 600, we’ll finish it in 60 overs. Even though it was an example of their positive mindset, it felt like they had gone too far,” Ashwin said on his YouTube channel.

Ashwin also believes that Bazball leans more towards being a “defenseless cricket” and although Joe Root is a great player of spin, his game was also impacted due to the style of cricket.

“The one thing I understood after the first Test is that Bazball isn’t just aggressive cricket. It is defenseless cricket. They aren’t going to play a defensive shot at all. They are going to get out if they play defense. To my surprise, Joe Root also agreed to their game plan. Because if you take world cricket’s vest defense rankings, Root is an easy number 1 on that list against spin. He also bought into their approach,” he said.

On the second day of the Rajkot Test match, Ashwin dismissed England’s Zak Crawley to pocket his 500th Test scalp. Before him, only Anil Kumble reached the milestone among Indians. He became the ninth bowler worldwide to take 500 wickets. However, hours after the feat, Ashwin went through a traumatic experience for which he had to leave the squad on an immediate basis.

“Ravichandran Ashwin has withdrawn from the Test squad, effective immediately due to a family medical emergency. In these challenging times, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) and the team fully supports Ashwin,” said BCCI in its release. Reports said Ashwin’s mother Chitra had suffered a medical emergency.

Now, Ashwin has revealed how exactly thing transpired. “We went to the dressing room for another debrief and then back to our rooms. Rohit, me, and others were just discussing some things about the match here and there.”

“That is when I realized I was not getting calls from my parents or wife. I thought they were busy attending calls and giving interviews. I called my wife around 7 PM, asking why my parents weren’t answering my call. Her voice was a bit shaky. She asked me to come separately from the crowd and told me that my mother collapsed after a headache,” Ashwin said on his YouTube channel.

“I blanked out. I did not know how to react or what questions to ask. I was crying but wanted to ensure nobody was watching me cry. It is unnecessary to think of it that way, but it was instinctive. I could not think. I was crying in my room for some time.”

“Then, the team physio checked on me as I was not picking up calls. Rahul Bhai and Rohit Bhai also came to check on me, and all I could tell them was that I could not think clearly,” he added.

Ashwin's 500th Test Wicket Overshadowed by Family Emergency

Ashwin’s 500th Test Wicket Overshadowed by Family Emergency

Ravichandran Ashwin’s 500th Test wicket milestone was overshadowed by a family medical emergency that forced him to leave the Indian squad immediately. The incident occurred hours after Ashwin achieved the historic feat, becoming only the ninth bowler worldwide to reach the landmark.

According to reports, Ashwin’s mother, Chitra, suffered a medical emergency. Ashwin revealed the details of the traumatic experience in a video on his YouTube channel. He stated that he realized something was amiss when he couldn’t reach his parents or wife after the match.

“I called my wife around 7 PM, asking why my parents weren’t answering my call. Her voice was a bit shaky. She asked me to come separately from the crowd and told me that my mother collapsed after a headache,” Ashwin said.

Overwhelmed with emotion, Ashwin blanked out and struggled to process the news. He was comforted by team physio and captain Rohit Sharma, who advised him to prioritize his family.

“I am part of the playing XI, and the game is in the balance. If I leave, the squad will be left with 10 people fighting against a full-strength England squad when they had the upper hand. If I go, they will be a bowler short,” Ashwin said, expressing his concerns about the team.

However, Ashwin’s primary focus was on his mother’s well-being. He was informed that she was not conscious and could not be seen. “I lost it,” he said.

Coach Rahul Dravid and Rohit Sharma stepped in to assist Ashwin. They arranged a charter flight for him to Chennai and ensured that physio Kamlesh accompanied him.

“Rohit did something else – he asked Kamlesh, our physio, to fly with me to Chennai and be with me. He was one of the two physios for the team. During our ride to the airport, Rohit kept calling and asking him to be with me during this challenging time,” Ashwin added.

Ashwin expressed his gratitude to Cheteshwar Pujara for finding flights in Ahmedabad and making it to Rajkot for him to travel. He also thanked Rohit Sharma and Rahul Dravid for their support and understanding.

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