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I learnt to read the game from Sachin: Dhoni

If there’s one thing missing from the tributes that have poured in ever since Sachin Tendulkar announced his plans to retire from Test cricket, it is the element of shock.

MS Dhoni and Sachin Tendulkar
India skipper MS Dhoni with Sachin Tendulkar during an ODI against Australia at the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Hyderabad in November, 2009. Pic/Getty Images

And that was pretty expected, given the struggles of the Little Master after the triumph at the 2011 World Cup. Everyone, in his own little way, was preparing for the news. And now that Tendulkar has made his plans public, the struggle to come to terms with this decision has set in.

Yuvraj Singh poured his heart out on Thursday after the T20 clash in Rajkot, and the story was no different when Indian skipper MS Dhoni faced the media in the lead up to the first India versus Australia ODI game here yesterday.

“I’m happy for him, for the kind of illustrious career he’s had, for the time he was at the top,” said Dhoni, adding that he wants to enjoy every bit of the two Tests that he will feature along-side Tendulkar next month. “I have seen huge crowds in Test matches during my career, but I have rarely seen full houses.

I am expecting the grounds to be packed to capacity when Sachin turns up for the Tests. If that does not happen, then I don’t think I will ever see another full house for Tests,” said the India captain.

On Tendulkar’s impact on Indian cricket, Dhoni said: “He’s had to carry the expectations of so many Indians. At times, Indian fans set very high expectations. To bear with all that and come up with performances he came up with is fantastic.

I think there was plenty he had to deal with apart from cricket. Cricket of course was his passion. He had to deal with so many things that go around it. If you see all of that, I think he has had a fantastic career.”

During the course of the 24 years, Tendulkar battled many injuries yet emerged triumphant. That is the quality which Dhoni admired. “He had a few injuries and from whatever interaction I had the rehabilitation was far more painful than the injury.”

Like everyone else, Dhoni is coming to terms with Tendulkar’s decision, and although he is happy that the latter will be bowing out on his own terms, there are still things he’s yet to accept.

“In some corner of your heart there is a feeling that you won’t see him playing for the international team or any form of cricket. That’s the only thing I am disappointed about.”

Dhoni then elaborated on the things he had learnt from Tendulkar in the nine years they were teammates. “To point out that this is the particular thing I learnt from him is very difficult. I think in the opportunities I got to bat with him, I learnt to read the game,” he said.

“Especially in the ODIs in the time I spent with him I learnt how to target a bowler, what to do and how to do at that point of time. I think that’s something that has really helped me. There are plenty of other things I learnt from him but a press conference will be too short a time to explain all of that.”  

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