One of the iconic moments in talismanic Indian wicket-keeper batsman MS Dhoni’s career is hitting the famous six over long-on and making the Men in Blue triumphant in the 2011 World Cup.
The credit of the Indian win mostly is given to the Dhoni-led star-studded Indian squad. But the coaching and support staff, featuring Gary Kirsten and Paddy Upton, also deserve an equivalent share of adulation.
In a recent interaction, Upton, the Indian team’s former mental conditioning coach, revealed how the Indian team won the title on the back of influential leadership of Dhoni.
“Dhoni was a strong, silent type as a leader. He led through his own performances, often taking the team to victory in high-pressure situations with the bat,” said Upton, according to TOI.
MS was going through a lean patch during the tournament. Despite his rusty form, Dhoni decided to promote himself ahead of an in-form Yuvraj Singh, the eventual Man of the Tournament, to steer India across the finishing line.
Dhoni backed his experience against the spin of Muttiah Muralitharan, taking responsibility of shepherding India through his spell by promoting himself up the order.
India also faced numerous challenging situations to get past through the group stages as well as the knockouts of the competition.
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“(He) also led by showing a calm head and demeanour during high-pressure moments. Dhoni being calm, particularly in these high-pressure moments, along with the coaching staff deliberately being calm and measured, set the tone and example for players to follow,” added the South African.
Upton, during his stint with the Indian team, had to tend to an ailing Yuvraj Singh, who battled through cancer during the tournament.
“I think the fact that he was mentally so well prepared and focused, helped him stay in-tune with that goal, and not get distracted by his ailing health. The mind is able to overrule the body, which Yuvi displayed beautifully through his man-of-the-tournament performances,” Upton stated when asked about Yuvraj.