| Mahendra Singh Dhoni during Jharkhand's practice in Jamshedpur on Friday. Picture by Uma Shankar Dubey
Calcutta: Chance has played a significant hand in shaping Mahendra (not Mahender) Singh Dhoni's career.
It was, after all, purely by chance he switched from being a soccer goalie to wearing the big gloves. That was at the DAV (Shyamali) in Ranchi, when in class VII.
Now, though, the 23-year-old ' the first Jharkhand cricketer to get an India call-up ' isn't leaving anything to chance.
'Getting picked for India is thrilling' Usually, I don't get excited but, yesterday, I did' Hopefully, I will do enough (in Bangladesh) to press for a Test berth as well,' Dhoni told The Telegraph on Friday, when contacted in Jamshedpur.
For now, he has been selected for the three ODIs across our eastern border, with one match in Chittagong (December 23) and two in Dhaka (December 25, 27).
The ODIs are going to be preceded by two Tests. Dinesh Karthik has retained his place for the longer version.
Dhoni, it may be recalled, first came into reckoning earlier this year when the squad for Pakistan was to be picked. As it turned out, Parthiv Patel kept his berth.
Then, at the start of this season, Patel (again) and Karthik are the ones who got opportunities. On Thursday, however, the national selectors finally remembered Dhoni, a cancerian like Team India captain Sourav Ganguly.
Employed by South Eastern Railway, Dhoni idolises Adam Gilchrist and the Australian stalwart's influence is evident in the swashbuckling manner that he bats.
'Gilchrist's presence is awesome' Not just as a batsman but 'keeper as well.' Dhoni, who can himself bat 'anywhere' till No.7, remarked.
The youngest of Pan Singh and Devki's three children, Dhoni was into soccer (and a bit of hockey) till his games' teacher suggested he take to standing behind the wickets for the school team.
'That was, I think, in 1994-95 and I liked my new role' I didn't miss soccer and, gradually, I was only into cricket,' Dhoni, a Rajput whose roots are in Uttaranchal, added.
Incidentally, he has been a 'huge fan' of Zinedine Zidane and David Beckham. Besides soccer, he is a big one for computer games and songs by Lata Mangeshkar and the late Kishore Kumar.
Dhoni's first-class debut (for Bihar) was in 1999-00, but it's 2004 which has seen him make bold headlines, particularly on the India A tour of Zimbabwe-Kenya.
'I learnt most in Kenya, where I played quite a few limited overs matches and a four-dayer' I returned high on confidence and was waiting to get a call,' Dhoni said.
Asked whether he was under pressure when selected for last month's Board President's XI fixture versus South Africa, Dhoni replied: 'Far from it' All I wanted to do was to put my best foot forward and learn from the exposure'
By all accounts, he didn't fumble which, by current Indian standards, is saying much.
Of course, it's to be seen how good Dhoni ' the latest wicketkeeper from East ' is in the top league, but his attitude seems to be just right.
Footnote: In a nice gesture, Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) president Amitabh Choudhary drove over to Jamshedpur from Ranchi, on Thursday, and hosted a 'private' dinner to celebrate the call-up. Dhoni's Jharkhand teammates, preparing for the four-dayer against Kerala, were also invited. Then, on Friday evening, the JSCA felicitated its vice-captain.