Dhoni on a balancing act

India’s skipper has soldiered on through searing pain and numerous niggles, bruised fingers and hurting back, seldom sitting out a game since taking a break during the Test tour of Sri Lanka in 2008, when Anil Kumble was the Test skipper.

Between then and now, the 29-year-old has played 17 of India’s 19 Tests, 51 of 57 one-day internationals and 15 of 17 T20 games. No one in the world has played as much cricket, and the going is unlikely to get any easier, what with a packed schedule, including the Champions League, leading into the World Cup early next year.

In the interim, every key member of the side has sat out matches and series, either due to injury or because of the need for rest to recharge batteries. Not Dhoni, though.
Dhoni goes into the tri-series beginning on Tuesday with a painful middle finger in his right hand. “There is still a bit of pain but I don’t think that will stop me from playing any games,” India’s skipper said on Monday, referring to the battering the finger received during the P Sara Test.

Ask him how he manages to stay fresh despite playing near non-stop, high-pressure cricket, and that too in a captaincy role, and back comes the reply, “Taking some time off is very important. The key lies in switching on and switching off, trying to have fun with your team-mates and keeping the dressing room atmosphere very good and relaxed. Given the amount of cricket we are playing, it is very important to switch off. You can’t be thinking only about cricket 365 days a dear, especially with practice sessions too being as intense as the games.”

Dhoni has been party to deliberations about resting players. As captain, how does he bring up the topic of resting himself, should the need arise? “When I get a feeling that if I play this series, I may get injured, I try to take some time off, like I did in Sri Lanka two years back,” he offered. “It’s very important to know how your body is feeling. A three-week rest may be enough to get back to work but if you get injured, you might lose one and a half months. You have assess which is the better option. Taking rest is a better option than getting injured.”

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