Whenever one comes across the expression ‘rags to riches’ regarding the rise of any individual then the thought that comes to the mind of most individuals is that the person might have got lucky or that he might have been blessed by the presence of a guardian angel. However, whenever you consider the life of Mahendra Singh Dhoni from a life of relative obscurity to one of global fame, then the words that would come to mind would be talent, hard work, intelligence and the willingness to learn. Dhoni was not a teenage prodigy who was plucked out of league cricket and installed in the Indian team but he was someone who well and truly came up through the ranks; having played all levels of domestic cricket before making his debut.
However, something that is not often a part of discussions is the early life of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and if one starts exploring it he will find a fascinating journey from the by lanes of Ranchi to world domination.
The Childhood Years
Mahendra Singh Dhoni had always been a bit of a sportsman right from the time when he used to be in the 5th standard at DAV Shyamali in Ranchi and truth be told, he has acknowledged that his parents always encouraged him to participate in sporting endeavors, without putting undue pressure on him regarding the rat race of education. That is something you can notice in the way Dhoni conducts himself on the cricket field. He is a fierce competitor no doubt but he treats the game as a game without letting it affect him personally and that is the reason why you would never see him shouting animatedly at his bowlers or fielders when things go awry. His father Pan Singh was employed at the junior levels at MECON and hence there wasn’t an abundance of money in the family but they were not desperately poor either.
Dhoni was never interested in cricket when he was a child but he was someone who excelled in badminton and football, in which he played as a goalkeeper. Cricket was a game that he used to play once in a while in his locality but badminton and football were the games in which he represented his school as well as his district. However, it all changed one fine day when he was asked to play for a local club as a wicket keeper since their regular ‘keeper was indisposed. Now, since Dhoni was a goalkeeper in football, he had the basic agility that was required to become a good ‘keeper and so it was in this game he first announced himself as a wicket keeper of rare ability.
From then on, he went from strength to strength as a cricketer but there was no apparent breakthrough other than the fact that he was getting selected regularly in grade cricket. However, Dhoni realized that he needed a job in order to sustain his family and so it was in the year 2000 that he was took up the job of a train ticket examiner or TTE in the Indian Railways. For those who might have traveled in Eastern railway might have encountered Dhoni as a TTE during those years between 2000 and 2003. This was however the best decision that he could have taken since as an employee of the Indian Railways he was able to play cricket for a strong domestic cricket side and truth be told, it was his stint with the Railways that really thrust him into the limelight.
It was in 2004 that he was eventually selected for India and the rest as we all know would surely be a part of modern Indian history.
By Soham Samaddar