CHENNAI: MS Dhoni was almost ruled out for a crunch India-Pakistan match in the Asia Cup last year after he suffered an injury but the then captain's determination saw him not only turning up for the game but also winning it, according to national chief Selector MSK Prasad. Revealing this at a function, the Chairman of the cricket board's selection committee said though he had even kept ready a replacement, Dhoni told him not to worry and that he would play against Pakistan even "if my one leg is not there." Prasad, speaking at the Tamil Nadu Sports Journalists Association (TNSJA) annual awards function on Sunday night, recalled the incident that happened during the Asia Cup in Dhaka in Bangladesh in February, 2016 to highlight the determination and dedication of Dhoni to cricket. He said Dhoni had picked up an injury during training two days ahead of the tie but he went on to lead India to a win, adding, "this is what Dhoni is made of." Narrating the incident, he said, "While training at the gym late in the night, Dhoni picked up weights and suddenly there was a catch in his back and he fell with the weight. "Thankfully, the weight did not fall on him. He could not walk, he was literally crawling. He was taken on stretcher." Prasad said he was not sure how to deal with the situation. "So, I went to Dhoni's room to know what the issue was. He said, 'don't worry MSK bhai'. I even asked him what should I tell the scribes, and the answer again was 'don't worry MSK bhai,' the Chief Selector said. Prasad also said he didn't want to take chances and summoned Parthiv Patel as a replacement. But, Dhoni's resolve came to the fore and he was ready for the crunch game against the neighbours. "Before the team was announced in the afternoon, Dhoni was dressed up for the game. He called me to his room and asked me why was I worrying so much? Then he said, even if my one leg is not there, I will still play against Pakistan," Prasad said. He also had a piece of advice for youngsters with regard to lack of facilities. "Dhoni comes from an area, where there is no facility. Even T Natarajan didn't get recognition before. So, there will be no facility, it is your inner power that will take you to the next level." On the occasion, India's first chess International Master Mauel Aaron and 1975 hockey Word cup winner V J Philips were honoured with Lifetime Achievement awards at the Arise Steel-TNSJA awards function. "I can proudly say that TNSJA is the only organisation to have properly recognised me for my achievement, that too, after 42 years," said Philips in his acceptance speech. India cricketer Dinesh Karthik and athlete G Lakshmanan were named the 'Players of the Year'.
"This is a big motivation. I believe I'm a hard worker. I still have to improve a lot. My aim is to compete in the Olympics," said Lakshmanan. The Lifetime Achievement award for Journalists was awarded, posthumously to Nirmal Shekar, former sports editor of 'The Hindu', and to R Mohan, resident editor of 'Deccan Chronicle'.
S Loganathan, who coached Lakshmanan to the 5000m gold in the Asian athletic championships in July, was named 'Coach of the Year'. The Tamil Nadu limited overs cricket team which won the Vijay Hazare trophy was the 'Team of the Year'. S Nandakumar (football) and S Selena Deepthi (table tennis) were named 'Young Achievers'.