Throughout his captaincy career, MS Dhoni stood out as a nonconformist, almost always charting his own path, be it on the field or off it. Once, for a pre-match press conference, he turned up with the entire Indian team to make a statement of unity.
Defending champions in the 2009 T20 World Cup, the Indian team’s lead-up to the tournament had been overshadowed by reports of a rift between Dhoni and Virender Sehwag. The previous day, Dhoni had retorted at a journalist’s query during a press conference regarding Sehwag’s injury. When asked about the status of Sehwag’s injury, a miffed Dhoni said: “whatever is related to the fitness, you will get from the BCCI.” When probed further, he replied: “I am not saying anything on that”, even while admitting he was aware of the injury status.
Reports soon emerged that Dhoni and Sehwag were at odds with each other following the latter’s shoulder injury, with Dhoni not giving any definite answers to the media about the same.
A day later, ahead of the opening fixture against Bangladesh, journalists at the pre-match press conference saw the entire Indian team sauntering into the room along with Dhoni. The message was simple: the Indian team had decided to quell all speculations with a collective act of unity. Sehwag, along with members of the squad as well as the support staff, stood around as Dhoni sat and read out a statement “to the people of India and Indian cricket fans worldwide,” insisting that the team spirit had been “as good as it has ever been.”
“Recent reports in the Indian media of a rift between myself and Sehwag amounts to nothing but false and irresponsible media reporting,” the statement read. “Our fans and supporters can take confidence from the wonderful unity that continues to exist in the team.”
The team members did not field any questions and walked off soon after. They won the game against Bangladesh but were knocked out in the Super Eights after losing all three games.
Two years later, Dhoni led India to World Cup glory, but his equation with Sehwag continued to remain a topic of debate until the Indian opener’s retirement in 2014.
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