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'There is an aura around MS Dhoni'

June 15, 2023 00:43 IST
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I have been lucky to spend a lot of time with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, says Devon Conway

IMAGE: I have been lucky to spend a lot of time with Mahendra Singh Dhoni, says Devon Conway. Photograph: BCCI

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) and New Zealand batter Devon Conway said that he feels lucky to have spent time with Mahendra Singh Dhoni and highlighted the bond he shares with the CSK skipper, adding that he gives him a lot of "banter and chirp, quirky one-liners".

Devon Conway was a part of the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2023-winning team with CSK under the leadership of Dhoni. In 16 matches, he scored 672 runs at an average of 51.69 and a strike rate of 139.70. He scored six fifties in the tournament, with the best score of 92*.


"I have been lucky to spend quite a lot of time with him. Moeen, MS, [Ajinkya] Rahane and I spent a lot of time in the team room watching a lot of IPL games, talking about different teams and strategies, and in general, life beyond cricket. The relationship I have with MS is cool; he gives me a lot of banter and chirp, quirky one-liners. Now I have started to give it back to him (laughs)," said Conway in an interview with ESPNCricinfo.

"The respect is immense. Every time he walks into a room, there is an aura around him. You want to talk to him, understand what he has to say because of his status in cricket and what he has achieved. We were fortunate to play a lot of snooker late nights and early mornings. MS and I were in one team and would often play Moeen and his close friend Tanvir, practically his godson. And our games would start shortly after heading back to the hotel from a match to around 2-3 am. We have shared a lot of laughs and good, constructive chats around those games and how to approach different situations and those sorts of things," he added.

On his wicket-keeping practice sessions with Dhoni, Conway recalled them to be "funny."

"He has learnt his craft over so many years and I guess it's hard for him to explain how he does things because it's so natural. The sessions were funny. What was actually simple for him was so complicated for me since I am still just part-time. He is on a different wavelength from how I am when I work on my wicketkeeping. It was all the more incredible because he does not keep at training," said Conway.

On his opening batting partner Ruturaj Gaikwad, Conway said that both get along well on the field and off the field and he admires his batting.

"We get along really well on and off the field. I admire the way he bats. He is pleasing to the eye when he gets going, but the thing that also helps me is when there is a lot of pressure to put the opposition under the pump, it helps to have a guy who is calm, and clear. It makes it a lot easier at the non-striker's end knowing you are in it together. Rutu knows more or less when I am trying too hard, or if the options I am taking are wrong. He will tell me straight away, so there is a lot of honesty and openness with each other," he said.

The duo of Conway-Gaikwad added 849 runs this season as an opening pair, including two century and five half-century stands.

On parallels between his game and that of batting coach Michael Hussey, who was also once a CSK player, Conway said, "He has been very beneficial. There are a lot of similarities: both left-handers are not probably the most powerful going around but maximise other ways to be equally effective. Lots of times, the things I am feeling or thinking are what he must have felt. Having the opportunity to ask and chat about different scenarios and going about different situations was very reassuring."

Conway said that he is able to access the ball on the on-side better now, which was one of his past limitations.

"It is not where I want it to be, but surely better. I have started discovering more of the lap and scoop shots as an option, which is something I would not normally go to often in the past. Trying to experiment and grow my game has become a part of my arsenal now. Just playing a lot more in these high-intensity games has allowed me to be clearer and more experienced in different scenarios in T20 cricket. There is still a place for improvement and ways for improvement going forward," he concluded.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

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