A tete-a-tete with Praveen Balusu – The Dhoni Devotee
Praveen Balusu is one of the most passionate Chennai Super Kings and MS Dhoni fans you will ever come across. He breathes yellow, adores The Thala, and does not shy away from expressing his love for the two mega-giants in question.
We had a tete-a-tete session with him, eager to explore his fandom and how and what led to him showering his yellove to the Captain Cool, and his ultra-successful IPL team.
To begin, we started from the beginning (aptly enough), trying to understand where, when, and how his love for Dhoni started. He shared the anecdote in his own words, almost like a short story we read in school..
“It was on 5th April, 2005 at my home town Vizag – when Dhoni announced himself to the world in a grand style with a swashbuckling 148 of 123 balls at one down against Pakistan. I was on the ground and witnessed this marvelous inning. This is like love at first sight when I had seen Dhoni for the first time and the spark of love for him got triggered within me almost instantly. From then on, I had become a staunch follower of Dhoni, and today all around me proudly call me Praveen Balusu – The Dhoni Devotee.”
One Life! One Love! CSK & DHONI!
His love for Dhoni is for eternity, he proudly admits. Irrespective of him playing or not, he remains his Idol, Inspiration, Champion, Thala, Super King, Legend and Leader.
He considers Dhoni to be a part of his family, with his house decorated with Dhoni and CSK nostalgia moments, including 3 life-size cut-outs of Dhoni! If you are lucky enough to visit his home, you will witness CSK and Dhoni all over the square footages.
“Dhoni is the Master, he is the Super King of Cricket and he exhibits an epitome of character which is what keeps inspiring billions across.”
He talks he inspires…
He walks he inspires…
He smiles he inspires…
He plays he inspires…
Dhoni is a great ambassador of India Cricket
He is a great ambassador of World Cricket
He is a great ambassador of the sport as a whole.
Praveen Balusu is proudly nicknamed “Mahendra Singh Dhoni” by his peers, he proudly champions. The former Indian captain’s calm demeanor, coupled with meticulous planning, his magnificent support to his teammates, his enticing smile on his face, and the list goes on endlessly.
There are countless admirers of MSD, with everyone aspiring to become a Leader like him but one should be ready to go the extra mile like was the case with Dhoni himself. You call it TEAM INDIA or CSK, everyone in the Team and around the World have got humongous respective to this great Leader.
Praveen is a Senior IT professional on paper, but get curious, and you’d get to know he’s also a writer. His first book – “A Dawn in the Lawn” – is laden with Dhoni and Team India stories.
He proudly exclaims “CSK is just not a Name, just not a Franchise, just not a Team. CSK is our Family, our Love, our Emotion and our Brand. CSK has given us a number of reasons to smile and they will continue to do so.”
The aroma of Yellove keeps us running all around the year and we keep spreading the aroma of Yellove to everyone around us!
“IPL is the longest festival we celebrate. Watching CSK and Dhoni during IPL is a feeling that I cannot express in words. Happy tears keep running down out of immense emotions. While I keep going to the ground for CSK matches, the first match and the final of 2018 were very memorable. CSK coming back after a hiatus of 2 years and I witnessed CSK’s comeback at Wankhede stadium both during the first match and also during the final. I was very emotional during those two matches on the ground.
Even post the IPL, I keep whistling and roaring and keep supporting our Super Team Chennai Super Kings. CSK is involved in various activities around the year, we keep following them and supporting them. A glimpse of CSK and Dhoni is something part of my daily life.
There will be lows and highs during any journey. CSK keeps roaring all the time irrespective of the situation. This is the hallmark of our great super team, great management and the great leader. Finding ways to win and smile at the time of adversity.”
We will always stand by our CSK irrespective of the situation. A win or a loss, CSK playing or not, I am always a Proud CSKian and a Proud Dhoni Devotee for life.
MS Dhoni – Greatest Indian team captain
We take the discussion forward to the topic of Leadership, and how CSK and Dhoni are the epitomal of it. Praveen rightly believes Leadership x Management go hand-in-hand, something reflected in one of the most successful IPL teams.
A highly admirable Management creates an environment for the Leader to execute his/her strategies and in the process sees the Team rise to the Zenith. The Leader and the Management get their Team, and their followers to be part of one unit called Family. In this case, the followers are the Super Fans.
As to why Dhoni and CSK being ultra-successful, he has this to say – “Not only they are the Best Leaders and Role Models but they had also created an environment called “Family” which means –
“Fantastic Admirable Management – I Love You”.
Pick the first letters of each of these words and you will see “Family”.
Inherently performers need to be happy souls. CSK is the best in this. A Leader should ensure a “Network” within the Team. Only then this “Network” will turn into “Net Worth” for the Organization. This Net Worth is the aroma of Yellove for CSK.
By now, we have understood how huge a fan Praveen is of the two entities. But has he inspired others to follow them too?
The answer is a resounding YES!
Firstly, he took massive inspiration from Dhoni, himself. He is a Senior Vice President, which requires him to focus on leadership and team bonding. While he had acquired the Art of Leadership from Dhoni, the Art of Team Bonding & Etiquettes came from CSK.
He passionately educates and inspires people to generate curiosity around Dhoni and CSK. Being a senior in one of the most-bustling industries in India, he wants to spread his learnings to the people he comes across. The art of leadership, the art of team work, the art of finding ways at the time of adversity, the art of team bonding and many more… – all learned from the Super Thala Dhoni and Super Team CSK.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni is an inspiration to millions across the globe. Coming from a small town, he has swiftly grown to become one of the greatest sportspersons and leader in the history of mankind. No wonder, his super fan Praveen keeps learning something from him.
At the top of all that he learns, it has to be Leadership. Few learn the art of leadership through books and few grab the art of leadership through experience but Dhoni is a born Leader. Not just we the fans but billions across the world do keep learning the nuances of leadership by looking at Dhoni.
Praveen says “With a mix of English and Hindi, we can spell Leadership as Lea’DARE’ship or Lea’DARR’ship. While pronunciation might be the same, the inherent meaning makes a huge difference. I had learnt this art of Lea’DARE’ship from Dhoni.”
There is something in Dhoni – his charisma, his aura, his calmness, his smile – that makes everyone fall in love with him and makes Praveen willing to do anything for him.
We can’t wait to move to Part 2 of this fantastic conversation with this die-hard fanatic, and explore what CSK means to him, his fan activities involving them, and ultimately, the true meaning of a sports fan.