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Dhoni’s able to live in the present... That’s remarkable: Pankaj Advani

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Calcutta: Staying calm couldn’t have been easy at the Wanderers on Sunday evening, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni remained unflappable.

Even when it seemed South Africa would pull off the biggest run chase in Test cricket and again create history at the ground where they’d surpassed Australia’s 434 for four (March 2006) in an epic ODI.

[Captain Graeme Smith, senior-most pro Jacques Kallis and AB de Villiers figured in both XIs.]

Quiz Dhoni on his calmness and the answer is business-like: “I keep things simple...”

That Dhoni can stay calm in the heat and dust of battle has won him admirers in plenty. Many of them are outside cricket.

Not long ago, Abhinav Bindra told this newspaper: “Dhoni’s been very successful and credit to him for calmness and patience... Dhoni’s the one who is calm, not me. I might look calm, but I’m not.”

A big admission from India’s only individual gold medallist in the Olympics.

Pankaj Advani, with eight world titles (billiards, snooker) to his credit, is the latest to enter the lengthy list of Dhoni admirers.

“Everybody wants a piece of Dhoni... It’s difficult to maintain sanity when so much is happening around you, but he remains unaffected... He’s able to live in the present, shut out everything else. That’s remarkable...

“I also feel Dhoni’s a complete team player, you can’t point a finger at him for anything. I’d say he’s the best team player in a very, very long time,” Advani, currently in the midst of a six-week break, told The Telegraph.

Advani began watching cricket “only” because of Sachin Tendulkar, but has been tracking the careers of others as well.

It’s interesting that Advani credits mother Kajal for his own calmness and mental strength.

Dhoni, incidentally, completed nine years as an India cricketer on Monday. He’s been the captain, across the three formats, for over five years.

That’s some CV for a 32-year-old.