Mahi is respected throughout the world Image: Getty
MS Dhoni's insatiable hunger to play and win is hardly new to his fans but a small incident narrated by India's chief selector MSK Prasad underlines just how much putting on the India colours and winning means for Mahi.
Prasad, speaking at an event, recounted an interaction with the former India captain just before the tie against Pakistan at Dhaka in the 2016 Asia Cup.
“While training at the gym late in the night, Dhoni picked up weights and suddenly there was a catch in his back and fell with the weight. Thankfully, the weight did not fall on him. He could not walk, he was literally crawling. He pressed the alarm bell, and the medical staff immediately came and attended him. He was taken on a stretcher,” Prasad was quoted as saying by a leading daily.
“As I reached Dhaka, the journalists questioned about Dhoni and I had no answers. The game against Pakistan was crucial, that too, it was on a seaming track. So, I went to Dhoni’s room to know what the issue was. He said, ‘don’t worry MSK bhai’. I even asked him what should I tell the scribes, and the answer again was ‘don’t worry MSK bhai’. I asked him whether we should call for a replacement, and he again told me not to worry,” Prasad added.
Despite the serious nature of the injury, Mahi refused to rule himself out of the crucial tie against the arch rivals Pakistan but Prasad wasn't entirely convinced and flew in Parthiv Patel as a potential replacement.
"As a selector, I couldn’t take Dhoni’s words for granted, so I called up the then chief selector Sandeep Patil and told him the situation. Immediately, Parthiv Patel was sent in as a replacement. By evening, Parthiv had joined the team.” recalled Prasad.
Prasad continued keeping tabs on Dhoni and what followed left him speechless.
“I went to his room in the evening and he was just trying to get up from his bed. I asked him if things are alright. As per the Asia Cup rules, we had to submit the team list 24 hours before a game, so I had to check on him. He clearly said that he would play,” he continued.
“Again at 11 pm, when I went to his room, he was not there. Fortunately, I went to the top floor and I saw Dhoni was trying hard to walk towards the swimming pool. He was literally crawling. Dhoni said he was trying to walk. I was thinking how could he even think of playing when he could barely walk. Dhoni looked at me and said, ‘don’t worry; you have anyway got Parthiv without telling me. So, you are safe,” Prasad narrated.
The punchline came on the match day when Prasad found Dhoni was all dressed up for the game. "He called me to his room and asked me why was I worrying so much? Then he said, ‘even if my one leg is not there, I will still play against Pakistan. This is what Dhoni is made of,” the former India cricketer-turned-selector concluded.
India ended up beating Pakistan by 5 wickets in the match and guess what? Mahi scored the winning runs with a bounday off Wahab Riaz.