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The Mahi way

VIJAY LOKAPALLY
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FOCUS M.S. Dhoni is the subject of three recent biographies, a welcome development in a market characterised by a dearth of sports books

Small world, big palm!M.S. DhoniPhoto: AP
AP Small world, big palm!M.S. DhoniPhoto: AP

Donald Bradman was a great subject for cricket writers. Some of the finest cricket literature was dedicated to this illustrious Australian, who also penned an autobiography “Farewell To Cricket”, a book that has seen many reprints; just as “Brightly Fades The Don” by Jack Fingleton.

Cricket books have always found a market in Australia and England. Publishers encourage sportsmen to pen their autobiographies and sports scribes contribute biographies, authorised and otherwise, in a good number.

The sub-continent, despite the crazy following for the game, has remained disappointingly slow in producing cricket books. Few cricketers have looked at the possibilities of sharing their experience with their fans even though Sunil Gavaskar had set the trend in 1976 when he wrote “Sunny Days”, an autobiography, barely five years after his international debut.

There has been a dearth of sports books in India for various reasons, lack of interest among the players being the prime one. It thus comes as a welcome change when someone like M. S. Dhoni has three books on him, of course, none being an authorised work.

After Gulu Ezekiel’s “Captain Cool” in 2008, brought out by Westland, Rajshekhar Rao’s book on Dhoni, published by Ocean Paperbacks in 2009, earned good reviews. Ezekiel, who also has unauthorised biographies of Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly to his credit, has updated his work with a new cover, stats, photos and a chapter that includes the triumphs at the Champions Trophy and the subsequent tri series in the West Indies.

“Dhoni is a subject that interests people from across the section, old and young love to read about this fabulous cricketer. He gives you the platform to write more and more and I find him a very exciting cricketer.

His achievements attract you to write on him,” says Ezekiel, who has an eye for details and a style that makes reading a pleasant experience.

An addition to the books on Dhoni is seasoned journalist Shantanu Guha Ray’s offering titled “MAHI, The Story of India’s Most successful captain”, published by Roli Books.

Ray took his time to finish the book, travelling to Dhoni’s home town, met many important people in the cricketer’s life and drew on his own interactions with the India captain to piece together a narration that is easy reading. A business journalist, Ray indulged in sports reporting for a while and picked an ideal individual to write on.

Dhoni’s achievements are the reasons for these three authors to have set aside time to write. Ray has many anecdotes and references, some too well-known to be included in a book released nine years after Dhoni’s debut, but the essence on local flavour is the standout feature.

Ray speaks to journalists, writers, Dhoni’s friends, and produces a much readable book. “This is a simple compilation of events — some private, some official — that actually shaped Dhoni into a cricketer, and eventually the captain of the national team. This book is his story, true story,” says Ray. It is to a large extent.

VIJAY LOKAPALLY

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