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Book Excerpt

When Dhoni stayed in a tenement and played tennis-ball cricket

A new book reveals a young Dhoni’s tryst with sporting destiny while he was a ticket collector in Kharagpur

Joy Bhattacharjya And Amit Sinha | Published 22.08.22, 07:07 PM

Do Different: The Untold Dhoni, co-authored by Joy Bhattacharjya and Amit Sinha, sheds light on the life and career of one of India’s most decorated and celebrated athletes by documenting his journey from a multiplicity of angles. “Since there are so many different Dhonis, there had to be different approaches,” believe the authors. In doing so, the book also digs up little-known facts and stories about Dhoni before he stepped into superstardom in the colours of the Indian team. One such section of the book captures Dhoni’s tenure with Durga Sporting Club in Kharagpur more than two decades ago.

The following is an excerpt from the book, which has been published by Penguin Random House and can be purchased here.

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Mahendra Singh Dhoni, two-time World Cup-winning captain, one of the hardest hitters of the cricket ball, wicketkeeper extraordinaire and former member of Durga Sporting Club! What is that last one, you might ask? Well, it all started in 2001 when Dhoni moved to Kharagpur to take up a job with the South Eastern Railways. Dhoni was appointed as a ticket collector and was offered the job by then divisional manager (of SE Railways), Animesh Kumar Ganguly, who was looking to build a strong cricket team for his department. 

Dhoni had already played domestic cricket by this time and he apparently used to wait restlessly for 2pm to arrive every day so that he would be relieved of his professional duties and quickly head over to play or practise cricket. And unusually for a professional cricketer, he used to do something that was the nightmare of coaches. Dhoni played tennis-ball cricket as a member of Durga Sporting Club.

Soma, Dhoni’s teammate at the tennis-ball cricket club, provided him with a 10x12 tenement to stay in, free of cost. And apart from his work, playing leather-ball cricket and enjoying Thomas’s chai and trips to chicken dhabas, Dhoni found the time to play for Durga Sporting Club in the Golkhuli area of Kharagpur. 

The ground at the club was heavily biased towards the leg side and so bowlers would bowl almost on the sixth stump on the offside to keep Dhoni from hitting his legendary sixes. Not that it worked, because he used the helicopter shot, which he had learnt in Ranchi, to keep swivelling those sixes on to the leg side. Durga Sporting Club has a Facebook page, and they are still winning trophies, although one cannot be too sure if it is the same club.

In quaint old Kharagpur, known thus far for a pretty long railway platform and for India’s first IIT – Indian Institute of Technology, which produced such accomplished names as Arvind Kejriwal and Sundar Pichai – Dhoni and Durga Sporting Club are the town’s tryst with sporting destiny!

Last updated on 22.08.22, 07:07 PM
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