MS Dhoni IPL
MS Dhoni leads from the front. Photo: BCCI/Shaun Roy-IPL-SPORTZPICS

The initial cricketing years of Mahendra Singh Dhoni spurred a lot of talk about how a Ranchi-born Railways ticket inspector grew to become the most aggressive of batsmen in India. It was a remarkable story of inspiration for how dreams can come true. He was known for his mane, his not-so-elegant batting style. But, whatever it was, he did it in style. He brought his own element to the game and unabashedly so. If someone said he'd be one of the most successful captains for India, one wouldn't have given it a close ear.

The World Cup winning captain is the most sought after poster-boy in India. His leadership skills and the ability to keep calm when the world around is blowing apart has been respected and scrutinised. He takes it all in his stride and discusses weather as he prepares to lead the two-time champions Chennai Super Kings in the IPL 7.

"Yes, the weather is slightly different when you compare to Mumbai or Chennai or Kolkata," Dhoni said about the conditions in the UAE where the first leg of IPL 7 is scheduled. "It is hot and humid. But Delhi has very dry heat and this place is similar to that. It will be a challenge. But sports people crib a lot initially. But you don't get bothered by it once we start to play."

Avoiding questions about the match-fixing scandal surrounding his team, Dhoni instead focussed on aspects in his control.

"Consistency at playing well and reaching the semifinals is our goal firstly," Dhoni said. "We can't say we will win because all it takes is one individual to have a good day. The importance is to reach the semifinals, and you up your game a bit."

The likes of Suresh Raina, Brendon McCullum, Faf du Plessis and Dwayne Bravo give CSK the star power. When asked if he's content with what he has, he said it all boils down to fitness and form.

"What you have to see are your fitness issues," Dhoni admitted. "And your composition as a side depends on the fitness of the players and their form. You may have to omit someone who is a big player because with him included, the side doesn't look balanced as compared to somebody else who isn't as big a player. You have to see all those things.

"The good thing is, we haven't had so many changed players since season one. We try to retain as many as possible."

Dhoni has been credited to have brought the Indian team together and has been trying to do a similar job with CSK as well. "So far, we have been blessed," Dhoni added. "We have a few players, and most are likeminded people, but yes, it is difficult managing a couple of them.

"But we want to create an environment that provides a good mental condition to perform. And that will only happen if the players in the dressing room are good with each other."

Of late, controversies have followed Dhoni everywhere. Though he has tried to keep mum on corruption allegations that his team owners have faced, he was asked one final question about the issue. What does it take to keep the system clean?

"We will try the laundry, that's good, will keep us clean," Dhoni was quoted as saying by ESPNcricinfo jokingly.