London, April 3: Simon Hughes of The Daily Telegraph writes to say that Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni times the entire World Cup campaign to perfection. This is what he wrote:
"“Play without fear!” recommends Sachin Tendulkar. His captain MS Dhoni is the definition of that. Unfazed by a highest score in the tournament of just 34, he promoted himself to No 5 and strode to the crease with the match in the balance at 114-3.
"With total conviction and complete self-assurance he clipped and chipped, occasionally carved, and ultimately clubbed, his side to handsome victory with a massive six over long on to finish 91 not out. The prolific Tendulkar may be India's national treasure but Dhoni is their modern icon.
"Dhoni is Mr Confident. But even more so he is Mr Cool. He exudes a kind of karma under the most intense stress. You see it everywhere. Behind the stumps, in press conferences, at the crease.
"He has a sort of disarming presence that puts everyone at ease. It is this that has allowed this talented Indian team to truly flourish. He dissipates pressure. He, and departing coach Gary Kirsten, have created an environment which has enabled India to conquer the world.
"He is individual and unflappable. He doesn't play by the rules. He encourages everyone to be themselves. He announces unexpected selections (or non-selections) with a chuckle and a simple explanation, he unveils surprising bowling changes - Tendulkar and Virat Koli had a couple of mid-innings overs yesterday - and he suddenly rejigs the batting order.
"He has been responsible for the rejuvenation of Yuvraj Singh, India's man of the tournament. He gave Yuvraj a key role with the ball and his confidence and prowess returned with the bat.
"In the most intense situation of all, with India stuttering mid-innings, he poured immediate calm on troubled waters. He took total responsibility, sidling in and setting about the task of seeing his team home. He did so in his own inimitable way.
"He began by dinking the ailing Muttiah Muralitharan for runs on the leg-side. He was unflustered and unhurried. At the other end Gautem Gambir was still encouraged to come down the pitch to the Sri Lankan spinners despite being out stumped against Pakistan in the semi-final, another sign of the fearless atmosphere that Dhoni has enabled.
"He allies quirky deflections to brute force. He bounces around the crease to work balls into gaps or jumps back to thrash Murali past cover.
"When he did that a second time it brought up his fifty. No-one had realised he had that many - he is not one who plays for personal glory.
"Perhaps that is his secret. He doesn't measure his life by numbers. He plays for the moment, immerses himself in it. The helicopter shot - featured in another TV ad - came out just once, uppercutting a short ball from Thisara Perera over third man for the first six of the innings.
"He scampered unselfishly between the wickets. A smear off Nuwan Kulasekera's attempted yorker saw the ball hit the fence to bring up 250.
"There was a deft tickle off Malinga's slower ball for four, then a wristy flick of a low full toss for another. Just seven were needed. Then four.
"He sent the next soaring over long on to finish the job. Mahela Jayawardene had already played an exquisite innings and it would be hard to imagine a better exhibition of one-day batsmanship.
"But Dhoni timed India's run chase, not to say entire campaign, to perfection", concludes Hughes.