In the realm of cricketing legends, MS Dhoni’s name shines brilliantly. His remarkable career, filled with astonishing victories and brilliant leadership, continues to inspire cricket enthusiasts worldwide. However, as former Indian Test opener Aakash Chopra fondly recalls, there was a time when the world had yet to realize the unassuming greatness of Dhoni. Chopra, now a prominent cricket commentator and content creator, recently delved into the archives of his memories on his YouTube channel, Aakash Vani. He shared an endearing anecdote from 2004, when he and Dhoni were both part of India A’s squad touring Zimbabwe and Kenya. As roommates during the tour, Chopra was initially taken aback by Dhoni’s appearance. The young wicketkeeper, known for his long locks, might have appeared to be a stereotypical “cool dude” of that era. However, Dhoni’s simplicity and cordiality surprised Chopra, challenging his initial assumptions.
MS Dhoni’s international cricket journey started in 2004 at Chittagong against Bangladesh where he became India’s 157th ODI cricketer.#ThankYouMSDhoni pic.twitter.com/oPBjclVFSX
— BCCI (@BCCI) August 16, 2020
Chopra humorously recounted his expectations, saying, “To say frankly, I had not expected such cordiality from this long-haired cool dude. I thought that upon asking what he would like to eat, he would say, ‘You leave it, I will only order’ or upon asking when he would sleep, he would say ‘I sleep late you can put the bedsheet on your face and sleep’.”
This unexpected simplicity was not a sign of underconfidence, as Chopra explained. He emphasized that Dhoni’s demeanour was deceiving, stating, “One may mistake simplicity for underconfidence. But this is not the case for Dhoni. Inke dikhane ke daant aur khane ke daant kuch aur hain” (His looks are deceptive).
Chopra also shared an incident that highlighted Dhoni’s determination to be himself. He had suggested to the junior player that he should cut his hair to be taken more seriously in cricket. In response, Dhoni resolutely declined, saying, “I am not cutting my hair, probably people might grow their hair after seeing me.”
Little did anyone know that Dhoni’s hairstyle would eventually become a nationwide trend, especially after he captained the young Indian team to victory in the inaugural T20 World Cup in 2007. Dhoni retired from international cricket in August 2020, leaving behind a legacy that includes being one of India’s greatest cricketers and one of the world’s best limited-overs captains. He remains the only captain to have led his side to victories in all three major ICC limited-overs events.
Aakash Chopra’s heartwarming reminiscence not only sheds light on Dhoni’s unassuming personality but also serves as a testament to the enduring friendships forged through the beautiful game of cricket. As fans, we are grateful for such stories that allow us to glimpse the human side of our cricketing heroes, making them all the more cherished and relatable.