Mahendra Singh Dhoni, popularly known as MS Dhoni or Mahi, celebrates his 42nd birthday today. This is a name that transformed Indian cricket under his captainship over 18 years, and holds a place in everyone’s heart, whether a cricket fan or not. He is a batsman and wicketkeeper. To commemorate this special day, let’s look at few lesser known facts about the Ranchi-boy.

Lesser known facts about MS Dhoni
  • From an ardent footballer to a renowned cricketer

In Dhoni’s early days, he was a football lover before he took up cricket. His coach, Keshav Rajan Banerjee badly needed someone to fill in the position of a cricketer in the team, when he discovered Dhoni’s sporting skills on the football field and convinced him to join cricket.

  • Dhoni’s impeccable observational skills

Mahi’s childhood friend Chotu shares his observation of Dhoni could spot his shy father watching him bat far away in the crowd. “He can spot things even in the crowd, in the biggest stadiums of the world, and even remember a few faces.”

Chotu narrated a story that when Dhoni played at Ranji, he was batting and made 68 runs in the second innings. Dhoni happened to notice his father peeing through the crowd on the boundary wall, despite the pressure of playing his first high-level knock.

The cricketer’s close friends talk about his knack for observation makes him even a good judge of character. He is capable of reading people quickly and correctly.

  • Dhoni’s ability to ace all the obstacle courses at the National Defence Academy

Dhoni aspired to join the army (jawan). His early success in cricket did not allow him to take the first step toward his aspiration. However, during many instances, he managed to interact with the Indian Army Regiments and take part in the army drills at the National Defence Academy (NDA) and Indian Military Academy (IMA).

In 2006, Dhoni had an encounter with a parachute regiment, when the then-Indian coach Greg Chapel decided to take the Rahul Dravid-led team to its training center in Bengaluru. By all accounts, Dhoni topped all the obstacle courses and proved his capabilities.

  • Embodying a magnanimous spirit, MS Dhoni always shared whatever little he had

The cricketer came from a humble background and is known for his generosity even when he didn’t earn much. The former Indian Cricket Captain has sprawling mansions, and a vast collection of bikes and cars, yet has remained down-to-earth since his railway job days.

Coach Banerjee once said that when Dhoni was working at CCL (Central Coal Limited), he would be paid ₹1,500 as stipend. Dhoni would manage his entire month’s expenditure and also share with his friends on this.

  • Transforming Indian cricket with every move

Kiran More, former Indian cricketer and BCCI chairman believes that while Dhoni never changed who he was, his entry into Indian cricket took the sport to a different level.

“Dhoni changed the way training sessions were held and made it a more flexible process. While Dhoni was at the helm even BCCI had to change its act because of the invisible wall the captain always seemed to be surrounded by. He never allowed the administration despite his closeness to Srinivasan to get the better of him. He never let them compromise on the free hand he sought as the leader of the team.”