Mahendra Singh Dhoni has captivated the world of cricket for 18 years and more than a billion Indians with his incredible ingenuity as captain, wicketkeeper, and batsman. Former Indian Captain affectionately known as Maahi celebrates his birthday today. Let’s celebrate his birthday this year with lesser-known facts from his childhood, personal life, and cricketing career.
Mahi was an ardent football player before he switched to cricket.
Maahi was a devoted soccer player before he discovered his love for cricket. His coach, Coach Banerjee badly needed someone to fill in the position of a cricketer in the team, as school children often prioritized their academics over sport once they passed 9th or 10th grade. He discovered Dhoni’s sporting skills on the football field and convinced him to join cricket. “Perhaps the most fascinating part of how Banerjee and Dhoni came across each other is how cliched it is. Banerjee’s need was dire he needed to fill a vacancy of a long-term candidate, DAV’s wicketkeeper at that point happened to be in class 11, and less than a year of school cricket was left in him. Mahi was in 6th, and Banerjee just dragged him into cricket as he seemed like the perfect fit in so many ways.”
Dhoni’s impeccable observational skills enabled him to spot people anywhere in a stadium.
His friend Chotu shares his observation of how his friend could spot his shy father watching him bat far away in the crowd. “He can spot things even in the crowd, in the biggest stadiums of the world, and even remember a few faces. In his Ranji debut when Dhoni was batting, Dhoni made 68 runs in the second innings in that game. His father as usual was peeping through one of those crowds on the boundary wall and he spotted his father despite the pressure of playing his first high-level knock”. His close friends claim that Dhoni’s knack for observation makes him even a good judge of character. He is capable of reading people quickly and correctly.
Dhoni’s ability to ace all the obstacle courses at the National Defence Academy.
Dhoni aspired to join the noble profession of a jawan and serve his country. His early success in cricket endeavors did not allow him to take the first step toward his aspiration. However during many instances, he managed to interact with the Indian Army Regiments and take part in the army drills
“As his cricket career advanced Dhoni was lucky enough to experience a few brushes with the military and a few of their establishments like the National Defence Academy (NDA) and the Indian Military Academy (IMA), places he could only dream of visiting as a young man. It was with the Indian team in the mid-2000s and he visited the IMA with a friend. Then came his first encounter with a parachute regiment in 2006, when the then-Indian coach Greg Chapel decided to take the Rahul Dravid-led team to its training center in Bangalore. By all accounts, Dhoni topped all the obstacle courses and proved to be better than even some of the jawans”.
Embodying a magnanimous spirit, MS Dhoni never shied away from sharing even when he had little
The cricketer came from a humble background and is known for his generosity even when he didn’t earn much. The former Indian Cricket Captain has sprawling mansions, and a vast collection of bikes and cars, yet has remained consistent in being generous since his railway job days. “Coach Banerjee recalls that when Dhoni was working at CCL (Central Coal Limited), he would be paid Rs. 1500 as a stipend. He would somehow manage his entire month’s expenditure with that money. He never worried about the struggle, he never seemed to think even a step beyond the one he was taking at the moment. He used to come back to Ranchi during his Railways job with Rs. 100 and still spend that on his close friends. He never bothered about whether he will have anything left today, he is probably smarter than any Indian cricketer when it comes to investing money”.
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Transforming Indian cricket with every move, Dhoni challenged the authorities and ensured they never got the better of him
Kiran More, former Indian cricketer and BCCI chairman believes that while Dhoni never changed who he was, his entry into Indian cricket and subsequent rise caused everyone around him to change the way they functioned and most of it was for the good. “Dhoni changed the way training sessions were held and made it a more flexible process. While Dhoni was at the helm even BCCI had to change its act because of the invisible wall the captain always seemed to be surrounded by. He never allowed the administration despite his closeness to Srinivasan to get the better of him. He never let them compromise on the free hand he sought as the leader of the team.”
The internationally acclaimed cricketer with an 18-year-long career in the game, left an incredible legacy that inspired millions of fans around the world. His sensible personality, impeccable character, discipline, and dedication to the sport never cease to amaze us.