From Maahi To Captain Cool: The Epic Success Journey Of Mahendra Singh Dhoni

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A very few sports person make to the feat that Mahendra Singh Dhoni has achieved until now. Fondly called as Maahi and Captain Cool by his admirers, the man has been the true leader that the Indian team was longing for so long. Not only that he has his achievements but he is also perhaps one of the most loved cricketers of all time. Moreover, his cricketing career has been the definition of success for many.

Today we go back to the time when Dhoni was just one normal small town guy and see how he ended up being sort of a legend that the country has ever seen.

Dhoni was born in Ranchi, Bihar (now in Jharkhand), and he identifies himself as a Hindu Rajput. His paternal village was Lvali which is in the Lamgarha block of the Almora in the District of Uttarakhand.

Dhoni’s parents moved from Uttarakhand to Ranchi due to job transfers, and his father Pan Singh started working in junior management positions in the MECON. His family was a typical middle class. So his ambition to become a sportsperson was taken in a cynic light for most of his initial days.

As they say, the middle class always dreams big. Because stars shine the brightest only in a smaller sky.

-M.S. Dhoni

As shown and skipped in his biopic, Dhoni has a sister Jayanti Gupta and a brother Narendra Singh Dhoni.

When a child Dhoni was a huge fan of Adam Gilchrist, and his childhood idols included another legend who later became his teammate Sachin Tendulkar, Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan and singer Lata Mangeshkar.

Dhoni began studying in Ranchi at Jawahar Vidya Mandir, Shyamali (then, DAV Shyamali), one of the most reputed schools in Jharkhand, where he initially excelled in badminton and football and was recognized at district and club level in these sports.

Dhoni used to serve as a goalkeeper for his football team and was sent to play cricket for a local cricket club by his football coach.

I always admired this guy. He was sweet AS a PERSON yet fierce as a sports lad. And I always wanted him to become a sports person. So I sent him to cricket because he had excellent keeping skills. And as football is still a below par game in India, it would only have been a waste if he couldn’t make it big by any matter of chance or circumstances.

-Dhoni’s Former Football coach at DAV, Shyamli

Though he had not played cricket ever before, Dhoni impressed with his wicket-keeping skills and became the regular wicketkeeper at the Commando cricket club.

So, after Dhoni passed the 10th standard, he started focusing on his cricket even more.

He learned his famous helicopter shot from one of his late friends and co-players in the Commando Cricket Club, named Santosh Lal. Santosh recently passed away due to pancreatic cancer caused by his compromised habit of alcpohol abuse.

Based on his performance in club cricket, he was picked for the 1997/98 season Vinoo Mankad Trophy Under-16 Championship and he performed well.

But after he passed 12th due to financial instability Dhoni had to become a Travelling Ticket Examiner(TTE) at Kharagpur railway station from 2001 to 2003, under South Eastern Railway in Midnapore, a district in West Bengal.

Dhoni was a very honest and straightforward employee. He was a kid with lots of dreams in his eyes and unwanted responsibilities on shoulders.

-one of his ex-peers in the Railways.

But he also was said to have a hidden mischievous side which used to come out especially in his weekend breaks.

Once, while staying at the railway quarters, Dhoni and a couple of his friends covered themselves in white bedsheets and walked around in the complex late in the night. The night guards were fooled into believing that there were ghosts moving around in the complex. The story made big news on the next day.

But as he grew bored of his newly found job, he started missing cricket. During one identity think-about, he realized that he wasn’t meant to end up as a ticket collector. He wanted to do cricket and only cricket. And that is where he was supposed to be.

Then, he voluntarily resigned from the railways and started his cricket afresh.

You have just one life. And when when you die, you die. You don’t get to chose the better way. But you can choose the better way to live for sure.

-M.S. Dhoni

After several failed attempts at Bihar Cricket Team and Jharkhand Cricket Team, he was recognized for his efforts in the 2003/04 season, especially in the One Day format and was picked for the India A squad for a tour of Zimbabwe and Kenya.

Against the Zimbabwe XI in Harare Sports Club, Dhoni had his best wicket-keeping effort with 7 catches and 4 stumpings in the match.

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.

Continuing his good performance, he scored back to back centuries – 120 and 119*– against the same team. Dhoni scored 362 runs in 6 innings at an average of 72.40 and his performance in the series received attention from the then Indian captain – Sourav Ganguly and Ravi Shastri amongst others.

However, the India A team coach Sandeep Patil recommended Dinesh Karthik for a place in the Indian squad as wicket-keeper/batsman.

And the rest of all is history. Dhoni first appeared in his role of a skipper in the first T20 world cup in 2007 in which he led the team to victory. And today, MS Dhoni is the only captain to win all ICC tournament cups.

Many of his tough decisions are frequently challenged and his batting style was once called unconventional. But at the end, he proved his mettle every single time and rose up as a victor. He is also praised for his performance and composure that he maintains under pressure.

Another peculiar thing about India’s greatest skipper is that the Ranchi boy has a collection of all the wickets he has collected after winning a match.

I think I am saving them for some post retirement fun when I will be playing a guess-in-which-game for each wicket that is on display.

-M.S. Dhoni

Dhoni is now retired from test matches and passed over the lead of ODIs to the former vice-captain Virat Kohli in 2017. Recently Dhoni has also started his own sports range merchandise named ‘Seven’ (which also happens to be his jersey number) of which the first outlet was opened and inaugurated by the man himself at Nucleus Mall, Ranchi this August.

Dhoni has surely emerged not only as great cricketer but also as a leader. If you consider his past records, all you can conclude is that he is the greatest cricket captain India has ever seen!

-Wasim Akram, Former Cricketer (Pakistan)

Dhoni apart from the highest civilian honors like Padma Bhushan and Padma Vibhushan has also received these felicitations in his cricketing tenure till date:

  • ICC ODI Player of the Year: 2008, 2009
  • ICC World ODI XI: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014
  • ICC World Test XI: 2009, 2010, 2013
  • LG People’s Choice Award
  • Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna & Arjuna Award, India’s highest of honors given for achievement in sports.
  • Honorary doctorate degree from De Montfort University in August 2011.

Dhoni is a huge fan of bikes and motorcycles too. His first motorcycle was the legendary RD 350 which he bought second hand from one of his old native Bengali friends from school. Now the man owns numerous sports bikes and one of them has been the Hellcat, a bike having owned by just two in entire Asia, Dhoni being the first. The legend has lost his first love and as a matter of fate realigned with old school friend Sakshi after a very long span of time who later became his wife. He is also a  big philanthropist and is often known to be one of the most humble celebrities ever. So, Dhoni’s personal and social life is also as interesting as his career but that stays for now into the stories that might be told some other time.

Given that MS Dhoni is just another normal man who rose to become a legend he is easily a common example of how your dreams can take you to the top of the world when you believe in them.

And for all the fans out there, we are here leaving here a video clip of the last over of World Cup 2011 as a humble tribute to the man they call Mahendra Singh Dhoni: