He led the team to the World Cup win last month; he led his IPL team to victory last year; he is the most successful captain in Indian cricket; and his first love was soccer. Know your Dhoni.
Where he’s from: Ranchi
What his parents did: His father Pan Singh was a pump operator with MECON in Ranchi. He is retired. Mother: Devaki Devi.
Siblings: Has a brother, Narendra, who’s 10 years older than him, and a sister, Jayanti, who’s two years older than him.
Always crazy about cricket?: Was a keen sportsman and having a ground next to his house helped. But he was more keen on football, as a goalkeeper, and badminton.
Where he went to school: Ranchi – attended DAV school, Shyamali (now Jawahar Vidya Mandir School, Shyamali, Ranchi) from nursery to standard 12.
How he did at school: Was an average student.
When he first saw a cricket game: As a four-year-old, when his father, an avid cricket fan, purchased a black-and-white Oscar TV to watch the 1985 World Series Cricket in Australia.
When he started getting noticed as a cricketer: The first chance came when the DAV School games teacher, Keshav Ranjan Banerjee, thought of trying out his football team’s goalkeeper as a wicketkeeper. After making a mark in local clubs, Dhoni first joined Ranchi Railways but the move to Central Coalfields Limited, where he was asked to open and attack the bowling, was the turning point. He proved to be a big success and then got one break after another – Ranji Trophy, Duleep Trophy (East Zone), India A and eventually India.
First class debut: 1999-2000
His first ODI: Vs Bangladesh in Chittagong, December 23, 2004.
His first Test: Vs Sri Lanka in Chennai, December 2-6, 2005.
His first T20: Vs South Africa, Johannesburg, December 1, 2006.
His first century: A match-winning 148 against Pakistan in an ODI in Visakhapatnam in 2005.
Helicopter shot: Mahi’s famous hockey-style scoop-shot off a yorker is a hit with fans.
When he became captain: August 2007, for the inaugural World Twenty20 in South Africa, after seniors like Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly decided not to go.
Women he’s been linked with: Briefly linked with southern actress Laxmi Rai and Bollywood star Deepika Padukone.
Where he met Sakshi: The two families are said to have known each other for a long time. Dhoni and Sakshi are supposed to have been friends since their school days.
When he got married: July, 2010.
Where he gets his hair cut: Dhoni used to get his haircut at Kaya Parlour in Ranchi. The saloon has grown rapidly thanks to the Indian skipper’s visits. It now has a toll-free number for enquiries and even politicians frequent the place.
Friends in the team: Suresh Raina, Piyush Chawla, RP Singh and Praveen Kumar.
Friends outside the cricket team: John Abraham and Bipasha Basu.
How much he is worth today: A lot! And we are not talking lakhs.
Strengths: Is cool, fearless, has great judgement and always leads from the front. Is an aggressive batsman.
Weaknesses: Absence of classic technique, both in batting and ‘keeping’.
He loves to eat:Paani puri and dry chicken dishes.
Other games he’s interested in: Football and badminton as a junior.
His workout routine: With the team, he usually starts with a round of soccer.
Injuries: Has had various niggles. Suffered an elbow injury during last year’s IPL that sidelined him for 10 days, and hurt his ankle in 2007.
Any superstitions: His date of birth is 7. He strongly believes in the number, which is also his shirt number in ODIs and the IPL. Last year, he signed a major endorsement on the 7th of the month.
His favourite make of bat: Reebok.
Style as a captain: Aggressive and instinctive. Decisive and can sometimes be adamant if he believes in something. Very calm under pressure.
A Dhoni commercial we love: The Pepsi advertisement on how he got his trademark helicopter shot.
His cricketing idol: None in particular. But he has stated that Sachin Tendulkar is one player he would sit down to watch.
Off-field dressing style: Tight-fit T-shirt and jeans.
Tattoos or piercings: No visible inking.
Other interests/hobbies: Crazy about fast bikes and four-wheel drives; never misses an opportunity to take to the road. His new passion is shooting. Dhoni has acquired a Walther air rifle.
Most memorable games
76 – With a hairline crack in his right wrist, to help Ranchi Railways defeat Central Coalfields Limited at the Ranchi College ground in the early part of his career.
148- Vs Pakistan in the Visakhapatnam ODI, 2005, to make his first big impression in international cricket.
183 – Highest score by a wicketkeeper in an ODI, versus Sri Lanka in Jaipur, 2005.
148 – Vs Pakistan in Faisalabad on the 2005-6 tour, helping to force a draw.
91 – Not out, vs Sri Lanka in the World Cup final in Mumbai.
Our very own list of IPL players
Experience counts, even in the slam bang version of cricket. Mumbai Indians’ 38-year-old Sachin Tendulkar and 36-year-old Jacques Kallis of the Kolkata Knight Riders are still the best bet for runs, outshining men half their age. The three-hour format only adds to their comfort, as they are required to spend less energy.
Shane Warne’s first three deliveries this season read W-0-W (wicket-zero-wicket), which literally translates to ‘wow’ – the only word that can describe the Aussie spin wizard’s performances this season. Even at 40, Warne remains the ultimate showman and looks fitter than ever.
There are bad hairstyles, and then there’s Lasith Malinga’s curly gold-streaked locks. Caught somewhere between former Columbian football star Carlos Valderrama and American singer Tina Turner, the sight of the Mumbai Indians pacer’s bouncing mane is almost as dangerous as his lethal yorkers.
- From HT Brunch, April 24
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