Bengaluru, August 9: Who is MS Dhoni? The answer is seemingly simple. The World Cup winning Indian captain. The superstar cricketer whom we have come to know through TV and realms of articles in newspapers and online.
But for Bharat Sundaresan, one of the finest contemporary cricket writers who have followed Indian cricket for nearly a decade now, the Dhoni story does not end there. In fact it begins for him from that point, hence the genesis of his book - The Dhoni Touch.
It's not quite a biography of Dhoni but an attempt to swim deep and discover what pushed a small town boy from Ranchi to become one of the most successful cricketers and captains of all time in world cricket. For that, Sundaresan himself becomes a Ranchi boy and makes several of Dhoni's friends open up about their 'Mahi.'
Sundaresan has covered several cricket series involving Dhoni in India and abroad and is privy to pieces of information that come along such trips. But in The Dhoni Touch, Sundaresan the journalist takes a backseat. He tells us the Dhoni story through real life characters like Jena da, a groundsman at the MECON Stadium, Chottu Bhaiya, Dhoni's friend who runs a sports shop in Ranchi, Keshav Ranjan Banerjee, his coach at school, and Chittu, Dhoni's pal from the school days.
The run-chase in Nottingham might not require the Dhoni touch, but #thedhonitouch has made its way into stores now. Here at the Odyssey store in Adyar, Chennai. Come on Chennai show us some love #ENGvIND @PenguinIndia pic.twitter.com/kD8otLQ6g8— Bharat Sundaresan (@beastieboy07) July 12, 2018
For them, Dhoni is a friend forever and the stardom does not affect their bond. But the book does not limit to the memories of friends. Dhoni's reverence for armed forces is well-known and it has such depth that the former Indian skipper, an honorary Lieutenant Colonel, received the Padma Bhushan award in the Army attire. However, the public has not really got an insight into how he developed such close feelings for Army.
In the Dhoni Touch, Sundaresan seeks the help of Col Vembu Shankar and writes: "Col. Shankar struggles to mask the envy in his voice when he talks about MS's fauji WhatsApp group which he shares with his closest army friends. Dhoni shares pictures and discusses the goings-on in his life, which even the Colonel isn't always privy to."
Sundaresan has also found space to trace the relation between Dhoni and Chennai. The Tamil Nadu capital certainly has home grown heroes like Kris Srikkanth or more recently R Ashwin. But Dhoni as the captain of Chennai Super Kings, perhaps, has more warm connection with the Chennai crowd.
Perhaps, no other city welcomed an outstation cricketer and adopted him as one of their own like Chennai embraced Dhoni. And it' mutual too. Remember the CSK jingle: 'Enge Thala Dhonikku periya whistle adinge' and Sundaresan gives the verbal version of it while writing about that odd couple.
You necessarily don't have to be a Dhonian creature or literature freak to enjoy The Dhoni Touch. It's a people's book that tells us a bit more about Dhoni.