Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s rise in the world of cricket is an example of how grit, stamina and a clear head can do wonders, even if you are a little short on technique. Seasoned journalist C. Rajshekhar Rao has penned an unofficial biography of the man who has captured the imagination of this cricket-crazy country in a very short time.
Published by Ocean Paperbacks, Dhoni traces the rise of Mahi’s career from Ranchi. Rao has taken the story from the pitch to the colony where he grew up. One of Dhoni’s neighbours happened to be Rao’s brother-in-law, Om Prakash. “I saw him bat for the first time when he hit 183 against Sri Lanka, but I had for long heard stories of his tremendous bat speed from my brother-in-law.”
His neighbours recall that the boy was a bundle of energy even when he was seven or eight. “We had to shoo him off because he would never tire of playing in the space between our flats,” says MECON curator, Jena, who also happened to be Dhoni’s neighbour.
Rao calls him a natural athlete in the league of Kapil Dev and Ian Botham, who could have excelled in any sport. Dhoni started as football goalkeeper, before Keshab Ranjan Banerjee, his coach at DAV Jawahar Vidya Mandir School, tried out the enthusiastic lad as wicket keeper. Rao says the first to see a potential captain in Dhoni was Greg Chappell. Kiran More, former chairman of selectors, testifies this claim in the book. “Everybody was taken aback when Greg said this young man was captaincy material…he recognised the leadership streak in him.”
In an era, when players are looking to make quick money, Rao says Dhoni is in for a long innings. “He is an exciting combination of motivation and fearlessness.”