London: Can star Manchester United footballer Wayne Rooney learn a thing or two from India's World Cup winning cricket captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on how to react under pressure situations? A leading daily asked on Wednesday in an interesting comparison between two high-profile sportspersons.
Rooney, who was handed a two-match ban after he swore repeatedly at a television camera in an English Premier League match on Saturday, earns about 42 million pound sterling over five years but his behaviour has come in for severe criticism.
On the other hand, Dhoni has shown immense calm amid intense pressure to lead the Indian team to cricket World Cup glory.
"On the same Saturday, over on the other side of the world, another man was under more pressure than even Rooney could imagine. A small town-boy, sturdy, stubbly and with a most magnificent nose, M S Dhoni was leading India in their pursuit of the cricket World Cup against Sri Lanka," a write-up in 'The Daily Telegraph' said.
"India expected, the astrologers had predicted, it was now up to Dhoni to orchestrate victory. This victory, it was said, would unite the nation, Hindu and Muslim, rich and poor and give Sachin Tendulkar his first World Cup trophy at probably his last tournament," Tanya Aldred wrote in the newspaper.
"There was not a seat in the Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, tickets had sold for 12 times the asking price, 67.6 million were watching on television in India alone. The din was transcendental, the weight on Dhoni's shoulders oppressive. Yet there he was, ridiculously, unbelievably, calm. He promoted himself up the order, above Yuvraj Singh, and from a run of poor form produced one of the greatest innings in World Cup history. That six that won the Cup, high into exploding Mumbai sky, was icing so pink and delicious it was almost sickly," she wrote.
"Never will he play a more rewarding shot. And yet, though he gave himself perhaps a fraction of a second too long to admire the ball sailing into the night, there were no foul-mouthed celebrations to camera. Just embraces with team-mates and worthy handshakes with opponents. It is rumoured that he celebrated that night by watching the final repeated on television," the write-up said.
It said the pressure and weight of expectations Dhoni carried in a cricket-crazy country was no less than that of Rooney, who is one of the highest-earning and most high-profile footballers in the world.
"Dhoni is no puritan, he is paid handsomely for his endorsements, and has a fleet of steely motorbikes and an array of cars in his garage. His rewards are many and varied -the village where he was born, Lwali in the Almora district, is now to have a new road because of his exploits. But in the pressure-cooker of Indian cricket, which can be as vituperative as any football-fan site in the UK, he has managed to keep his head.
"Could Rooney learn from him? Who knows, but in the end his biggest punishment will be in how he is remembered. Only he can decide whether he wants his legacy to be that of a brilliant footballer who fulfilled his youthful promise or as a talent tarnished by his inability to control his temper. And although he is only 25, time is running out," the write-up said.