Indisputably, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the one of the best captain Indian team has ever had. Irrespective of the wins and losses, no one can take that away from him. Even the God of cricket aka Sachin Tendulkar has not shied away from admitting this fact. “Dhoni is the best captain I have played under, he is a fantastic captain," said Tendulkar in one of his interviews.
Stephen Fleming, the coach of the new IPL team – Pune Supergiants, which is helmed by Dhoni, has gone on record to say, "Leadership can take many forms. M S Dhoni is an inspiring captain who is open to ideas."
No doubt, cricket fanatics are completely in awe of our captain cool, who has not only broken several records but is also one of the most successful Indian sportsmen listed on the Forbes 100 list as the 22nd richest sportsperson in the world. Awesome ain’t it!
What’s more unbelievable is the fact that about thirteen years ago, this super rich, iconic captain of the Indian team was just a ticket examiner at Kharagpur Railway Station. Many might want to associate his success to mere luck, and yes, while destiny does play an important role; an accomplishment of this kind is simply impossible without conviction, hard work, and passion.
Hailing from a small town like Ranchi in Jharkhand, Dhoni was initially interested in playing badminton and football. He even played these sports on a district level. Honestly, had it not been for football, Indian cricket team may never have had one of its best captains.
It was when he was a 12-year-old goalkeeper that he was spotted by K R Banerjee, who thought that his diving and catching ability could translate into cricket. And whaddya know? Banerjee had hit the nail right on the head, his hunch proved right and thus kick-started MSD’s journey into the world of cricket.
"I needed a wicketkeeper and thought he would be good,” recalled Banerjee in an interview. "At the beginning he was not that talented, he had an odd style of catching the ball. Then when he came to standard eight, he started hitting the ball. He already had the helicopter shot, which is his signature style today, and the paddle sweep – he had learned these things playing tennis ball and tapeball cricket on the rough grounds. I never tried to change him – one thing I believe is in not renovating the natural talent."
However, even though Banerjee saw him get better with each stroke, he never thought that his young find would ever lead the national cricket team. “I never thought that he would achieve so much in the game of cricket. But he was always a confident boy.”
Dhoni was not only self-assured but had the fervor to make it big, and it was his determination that took him from his small town to the pitch of the Indian cricket team and aided him in making a mark for himself.
In fact, sport has always been Dhoni’s first love, and he is one of those few people who have actually converted their passion into a paycheck, and that too, a fat one.
“When we were kids, our sport was dependent on weather. When the sun shone it was cricket. If not we played football. I was a goalkeeper but always played knockabout matches up front because I wanted to run around. When it rained we played table tennis and badminton. I just loved to compete. If I couldn’t, I wouldn’t play. Studies were important but sports were a passion,” Dhoni recalled. “I remember when I was in Class 12, my exams were due and I needed to study but the last day of preparation coincided with a big cricket match. I asked him what I should do. In turn, he asked if I was ready for the exam, which I felt I was. ‘With only 24 hours to go you will either be ready or you will not. Go and play,’ he said, ‘and have some fun for there is nothing more you can do in your studying.’ In other words, you now have your priorities in order.”
Clearly more than academics, Dhoni has benefitted from his passion for sports. In fact, he secured his railway job too because of cricket. "We are a middle-class family and my luck to have some talent as a sportsman meant I qualified for a Sports Quota. This gave me a proper job, for life had I wanted it, and it allowed me to earn some money, gain some life experience but also to focus on cricket. I thought I was reasonably good but didn’t think I would get this far. Every morning for four years, eight months a year, we practiced at 6.30 am, always with two new balls and very competitively. We were taught to bat for 20 minutes without getting out and then to challenge ourselves with game situations to which we had to adapt,” Dhoni revealed in an interview.
However, Mahi was not destined to just play for the railways. His tryst with Kharagpur ended abruptly in 2003 when he began getting calls for bigger matches. He was recognized for his efforts, especially in the ODI format and was picked for the India A squad for a tour of Zimbabwe and Kenya. In the tri-nation tournament involving Kenya, India A, and Pakistan A, Dhoni helped India A chase down their target of 223 against Pakistan A with a half-century.
After his remarkable performance in the India A squad, he was picked in the ODI squad for the Bangladesh tour in 2004/05. On his debut match he failed to impress, he was run out for a duck. However, in his 5th ODI match against Pakistan, he scored 148 off 123 balls and cemented his place in the Indian cricket team with his signature helicopter shot. In less than three years, the small town boy was leading the Indian team to the World Twenty20 triumph in South Africa, which was to transform his life, and cricket as a whole. He led India's Test team to the top of the world rankings, won the World Cup, and consecutive Indian Premier League titles with Chennai Super Kings.
Dhoni’s success story is not only unparalleled but also inspiring, so much that Bollywood has decided to film it. Director Neeraj Pandey is directing M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story, a biographical film on MSD, starring Sushant Singh Rajput.
MSD is one of those few people, who have shown to the world that everything is possible if you are driven by passion.
Signature Startup - An evening of Inspiring Stories, Music and Fun