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Dhoni had his cake and ate it too

cricket Updated: Aug 07, 2011 01:45 IST
Deepti Patwardhan
Deepti Patwardhan
Hindustan Times
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It may have been more than three years since Robin Uthappa was a part of the Indian dressing room, but the Bangalore batsman remembers it as a "non-interfering, friendly space."

"Compared to the IPL, when I was playing for India there was a lot of time to sit around and chat," says Uthappa, who made his debut for India in Indore in 2006. "It's a fun place. Everyone gives you your space, at the same time there used to be the naughty bunch: (Mahendra Singh) Dhoni, RP (Singh), Irfan (Pathan) and Piyush Chawla, who would always be up to something."

MS Dhoni? The same Indian captain who currently seems to have the responsibility of the world on his shoulders?

"He's always been a little mischievous," says Uthappa of his former teammate. "I don't think Mahi has changed a lot since then. He'll watch everyone quietly and then drop a bomb. He's very subtle."

"We have this tradition where, whoever's birthday it is, we smudge them with cake all over, not just the face. We were in Pakistan in 2008 for the Asia Cup, and it was Dhoni's birthday. He came prepared for it. He bent over to cut the cake, and before we could do anything he smashed his face into the cake. He beat us to it. And no one had any cake to eat! We had to chase him around the room and put what was remaining of the cake on him."

While the seniors don't really intimidate, they sure fine-tune the atmosphere in the dressing room.

"Viru (Sehwag) and Yuvraj (Singh) are in charge of the Ipod," he recalls. "Viru would generally play Hindi music, contemporary or otherwise, while Yuvraj would play all the English numbers."

The Royal Challengers and Pune Warriors' dressing room (the IPL teams he's played for) moves to different tunes. "Be it the Indian or the IPL dressing room it is also always a very intense place to come to when you lose. A defeat can be hard." That's when the music stops.