Mahendra Singh Dhoni is known for relying on his gut feeling and developed a knack for it early as a school boy he once literally rebelled against his physical education teacher so that he could open the innings in the final of a tournament only to smash an unbeaten 213.
An out-of-form Dhoni famously promoted himself in the batting order in the 2011 World Cup final relying on his gut feeling, and the rest as they say is history.
Dhoni many a times belies logic and relies on his gut feeling which baffles many but he has a knack for getting the calculations right and that is probably why he is one of the world’s best finishers in the game.
One such incident in which Dhoni backed his gut feeling is described in Dhoni’s biography, “MSD – The Man, The Leader”, written by journalist Biswadeep Ghosh, which tracks the journey of a young boy from Ranchi to the dizzying heights of Indian cricket captaincy.
Dhoni, who was a promising wicketkeeper-batsman at 16 years of age, had built a reputation of destroying many a bowling attack with his unconventional style of play.
But on that memorable day in 1997, when Dhoni was playing the inter-school final for DAV Jawahar Vidya Mandir against Kendriya Vidyalaya from Hinoo, he was hell bent on opening the innings and the teacher, Keshab Ranjan Banerjee, was in no mood to tinker with the batting order.
But as fate would have it, Banerjee finally relented and Dhoni went on to share a 378-run opening stand with Shabir Husain (117 not out).
Dhoni’s knock came in 150 deliveries to not only destroy the opposition attack but also build a reputation that probably stayed on with him till he made a name for himself in Indian and international cricket.
The author not only describes the knock but also the lessons that Dhoni learnt in the long innings after his teacher had warned him that somebody would replace him in the middle-order if he fails at the top.
“That was a hollow threat, but it kept mindful of his responsibility, and over the years, the threat became the guiding mantra of Dhoni’s career – a mantra that taught him the worth of preserving his wicket when he single-handedly steered his beleagured team out of trouble,” writes Ghosh in the ‘Introduction’ of the book.