23rd December 2004
Getting out for a duck in your debut game is a disappointment. Getting run-out for a duck isn’t something a debutant visualises the night before his debut. If it was any consolation, his hero, Sachin Tendulkar, scored a duck on his debut. So did Saleem Malik.
5th April 2005
After scoring 22 runs in his first four games, he was promoted up the order to No.3. The first four innings he batted at 7. In a way, we could say he was playing for his career in Visakhapatnam. He played a knock that got him into the Collective consciousness of the cricket watching public. In 13 years, there has been a lot written about him.
Inspite of the reams written about him, there is a lot unknown about MS Dhoni. Despite having a biographical movie made on his name, there is still a lot that people don’t know about him. He remains an Enigma. Bharat Sundaresan wants to unravel the conundrum.
He starts the book off with the other thing, apart from batting, that got him into discussions around the country – his hair. The author mentions that both of them would’ve roughly started growing their mane around the same time. While the captain cut his tresses short, the author continues to be loyal to his, leading to jibes from Dhoni and his wife. On a tour of West Indies, they keep telling him, Baal kaatlo yaar (Cut the hair dude)
Despite repeated requests from the author, Dhoni remains elusive and after a long time he relents. He asks him to contact Seemant Lohani aka Chittu.
The book talks about Dhoni’s life in Ranchi. How he benefited from being in Ranchi and how Ranchi benefited from its famous son. There is nothing new to learn in these chapters as we have already seen this in the movie. This serves as an insight into his life for those people who haven’t seen the movie.
While his friends from Ranchi do tells us about MS Dhoni, it’s the author’s conversations with Shankar Vembu that tell us more about what we want to know about Dhoni. Bharat Sundaresan, slipping in a reference to Sherlock Holmes and Dr.Watson, is nice and it comes in the context of Patrick Patterson.
Patrick Patterson is important here because after reading the first chapter in the book, I was wondering if Bharat was self-absorbed because a lot of talk in that chapter is about hair. More about his hair than Dhoni’s. With so many links in the book, he could’ve slipped in a link to his piece about Patterson. In fact, I was half expecting that he would. He didn’t as his focus was on decoding Dhoni for us.
Shankar Vembu’s stories form the crux of the book. After reading Shankar Vembu’s stories, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to me if the makers of the movie, Dhoni, would be ready with works for the sequel.
There is a chapter dedicated to Dhoni’s keeping. This is where Bharat comes into his own. Till here, he was reliant on Shankar Vembu, Chittu and Chottu Bhayya for decoding the man. Decoding the man’s art is simple for Bharat. Rather, he makes it seem simple for us. That’s the level of understanding that he commands over Dhoni’s keeping.
Over five lines, he lucidly explains how difficult Dhoni’s way of stumping is. He blows the reader away with the simplicity of it all. Simplicity seems to be the theme of the book as there is a liberal sprinkling of Hindi. If you can understand the language, the pause between shifting from English-Hindi-English creates the desired effect.
There is a chapter on CSK as well. In it, he delves on what makes MSD tick. At the end when he is acknowledging the help of people, Sriram Veera’s advice stands out: You anyway are used to writing full-page stories which are around 3000 words each. Think of this as writing fifteen of those.