In professional sport, nobody gives you a discount for age: MS Dhoni

PTI, May 21, 2024, 8:28 PM IST

New Delhi: Nearing 43, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s six-hitting ability and fitness remains as good as anyone and the former India skipper says he has no option but to keep working hard and stay fit since “nobody gives you a discount for age.”

Dhoni, who handed Chennai Super Kings’ captaincy to Ruturaj Gaikwad at the start of the 2024 IPL season, played all 14 league stage games, batted way down the order and yet made a huge impact.

The World Cup-winning captain scored 161 runs at an incredible strike rate of 220.55, forcing many to believe that he can play for two more years in the IPL.

The iconic cricketer admitted that it is tough for him to perform after he comes straight to the IPL without playing any cricket prior to the league.

“The toughest thing is, I am not playing cricket throughout the year. So I have to be fit. Once I come, you are competing against youngsters who are fit and playing international cricket. Professional sport is not easy, nobody gives you a discount for age,” Dhoni said in a video that is doing the rounds on social media.

“If you want to play, you have to be as fit as the other guy. Age does not really give that grace to you. So, eating habits, a bit of training and all those things are there. Social media, thankfully, I am not on social media, so there’s less distraction,” Dhoni said in the video posted by Dubai Eye 103.8 YouTube channel.

For the legendary cricketer from Jharkhand, things like farming, riding bikes and vintage cars work as stress buster for him.

“Once I quit international cricket, I wanted to spend a bit more time with my family. But, at that same time, to be mentally active, to have that passion to stay focussed — for me, I love farming, for me it is the motorbikes, I have started getting into vintage cars.”

“These things de-stress me. If am stressed, I would maybe go to the garage, spend a couple of hours over there and I will just be fine, I would come back,” he said.

“I have always felt growing up with a pet, whether it is a cat or a dog… I prefer dogs though. They have unconditional love towards you. I have said this in a previous interview, even if I lose a game and come back, my dog greets me the same way.”

He has been a much admired leader at CSK and Dhoni said that “we need to earn that respect of the people you’re leading.”

“You cannot command or demand respect. You need to earn it. I may have a position in an institution, and yes, that position needs to be respected. But me as an individual sitting on the chair, I need to earn that respect.”

“I cannot just say ‘respect me’! If you have the respect of the people around you, they give 10 to 15 percent more.”

“India is slightly different. People talk about being professional. Yes, we Indians are professional, but our emotional connect is stronger. I feel as an Indian, my strength is the emotional connect. My connection with CSK is an emotional connect.”

“It’s not just a player who comes and plays for a couple of months and then goes back home.”

While he is not a big fan of social media, Dhoni would prefer Instagram over X to avoid controversy.

“I prefer Instagram over Twitter (X). I believe that nothing good has happened over Twitter, you know, especially in India, there’s always a controversy. Somebody will write something and it turns into a controversy.”

“I was like why do I need to be there? It used to be 140 characters. You cannot elaborate. Imagine me putting something over there and then it is left to the people to read it. And they just interpret what they want to interpret.”

“So I’m like, no, no, that’s not really for me. Instagram, still I like because I could put up my picture or video or something and just leave it. That is also changing now. So I still prefer Instagram, but I’m not very active because less distractions are better.”

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