New Delhi: MS Dhoni , India’s ODI and T20I captain, has likened the reaction from a section of India’s media in the aftermath of the Indian team’s exit from the 2007 ICC World Cup to that accorded to a “murderer or terrorist”.
Speaking at a promotional event in New York City for the upcoming biopic on him – MS Dhoni: The Untold Story – Dhoni reflected on what he said was a turning point for him. India, led by Rahul Dravid, had crashed out of the 2007 World Cup in the first round, losing to Bangladesh in their opening match and then Sri Lanka. Dhoni recounted how when the team landed in New Delhi from the West Indies, they were whisked away under heavy security as “a lot of media” surrounded them and proceeded to follow members of the Indian team as they left the airport.
“When we landed in Delhi, there was a lot of media. At times, people feel that we are not emotional enough about it, but I always felt, as sports persons, you have to be strong enough to go through everything and it has to be within yourself,” Dhoni told reporters on Friday. “It is not about coming for a press conference and crying about stuff, or crying in the field about what has happened.
“At that point of time, when we landed, we had to get out in a police van. I was sitting next to Viru Virender Sehwag paaji. It was evening or night time. We were travelling at a decent speed – 60 or 70 kms – and that’s quite a bit for India, that too on the narrow roads. And, you know, media cars around us with their cameras and the big lights on top, it felt as if we had committed a big crime, maybe like a murderer or terrorist or something. We were actually chased by them.
“After a while, we entered a police station. We went there, we sat for a while and then we left in our cars after 15-20 minutes. That actually had a big impact on me and I channelised the aggression to become a better cricketer and a better human being.”
At the time, Dhoni’s home in Ranchi was also pelted by irate cricket fans. Later that year, in September 2007, Dhoni became India’s T20I captain and led the team to a landmark win in the inaugural ICC World Twenty20 in South Africa – a win that put him on course to become India’s most successful captain ever.