Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper MS Dhoni has left a massive impact on the game with his leadership and performances in pressure situations over the years. Players from around the world wish to play under his captaincy in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Last month, Dhoni led CSK to their fifth IPL title by defeating Gujarat Titans (GT) in the final at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.
Besides his leadership, Dhoni’s wicket-keeping was top-notch during the triumphant campaign and he played a crucial role with the bat lower down the order despite nursing a knee injury.
Following the title win, several members of CSK credited the talismanic skipper for the team’s success.
New Zealand batter Devon Conway, who opened for CSK in IPL 2023, heaped praise on Dhoni, saying that there is an incredible aura that surrounds the legendary India cricketer.
"I've been lucky to spend quite a lot of time with him (Dhoni). The respect is immense. Every time he walks into a room, there's an aura around him. You want to talk to him, understand what he has to say because of his status in cricket and what he has achieved," Conway told ESPNCricinfo in an exclusive chat.
"Moeen, MS, (Ajinkya) Rahane and I spent a lot of time in the team room watching a lot of IPL games, talking about different teams and strategies, and in general, life beyond cricket. The relationship I have with MS is cool; he gives me a lot of banter and chirp, quirky one-liners. Now I've started to give it back to him (laughs)," he added.
Conway was the highest run-getter for CSK in IPL 2023, amassing 672 runs from 15 innings at a strike rate of 139.70 with six half-centuries. He formed a formidable partnership with Ruturaj Gaikwad at the top.
The southpaw said that the relaxed atmosphere in the CSK dressing room helps a player perform.
"We were fortunate to play a lot of snooker late nights and early mornings. MS and I were in one team and would often play Moeen and his close friend Tanvir, practically his godson. And our games would start shortly after heading back to the hotel from a match to around 2-3am.
"We've shared a lot of laughs and good, constructive chats around those games and how to approach different situations and those sorts of things."
While most of the teams in world cricket get into analytics and discuss match-ups with long team meetings, CSK under head coach Stephen Fleming and skipper Dhoni keeps team meetings to 3-4 minutes.
"It's a great combination. Flem's learnt to cut team meetings down to the very bare minimum. I don't think there's often a team meeting that goes longer than three-four minutes, which is great. Not that there's a lot to say.
"Flem understands there's a lot of experience in the group, guys know what they need to do to win. That gives us players a sense of trust that he'll allow us to go out and express ourselves and the results will take care of itself."
"The combination of MS' relaxedness around meetings and Flem allowing guys to go about their business to make sure they know what they need and what to do to win games is very beneficial as a group," Conway remarked.
(With PTI Inputs)