Goodreads blurb: The most inspirational story in Indian cricket is that of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Generations will remember Dhoni for hitting the spectacular winning six for India in the finals of the 50-over World Cup in 2011 against Sri Lanka, but it is the hope he has given to many aspiring cricketers across this nation that is his true legacy. Born in the lap of poverty and having battled against unimaginable adversities, Dhoni’s rise from being just another small-town boy to captain of Team India is a case study in B-schools. With grit, guts and matchless self-belief, Dhoni led India to an ICC World Twenty20, an ICC 50-over Cricket World Cup and an ICC Champions Trophy triumph, as well as the number one ranking in Tests. Although he’s had his fair share of disappointments, for MSD, failure has been yet another motivation to work hard and succeed.
MSD: The Man, the Leader unveils Dhoni’s struggles during his growing-up years, analyses his career as a cricketer and captain par excellence, and reveals his innate leadership abilities by speaking to luminaries from different walks of life including Harsh Goenka, Vineet Nayar and Dhanraj Pillay in a jargon-free, easy-to-read style. Replete with examples of Dhoni’s strong personality and inspiring leadership, and marking one decade of his entry into the Indian cricket team, MSD: The Man, the Leader will reinforce the belief: Yes, I CAN.
At the outset let me confess that I have grown up to become what I would term a ‘reluctant Indian cricket fan’ in terms of the fact that whenever I support the Indian cricket team I do so with a lot of reluctance as the team has this innate ability to disappoint me to no end with their entirely unpredictable pattern of performances on field. And as if this weren’t enough, the match-fixing scandal which rocked world cricket in the second half of the 90s meant that I slowly lost my interest in cricket as a sport in those days.
That being said, my love for cricket never diminished and this was in no small measure due to the role played by Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and therefore, when this book MSD, The Man, The Leader by Biswadeep Ghosh was published by Rupa, I lost no time in requesting for a review copy of the same and it did not disappoint.
Neatly chronicling Dhoni’s life from his earliest days as a cricketer in the high school circuit in Ranchi, the book goes on to narrate how he made a switch from football goalkeeping at the behest of his high school cricket coach, moved on to play club cricket and cricket for his first employers and then gradually made his way into the Bihar and later Jharkhand Ranji teams and finally ended up playing for Team India. Dhoni’s story is quite remarkable in terms of the fact that his journey to the national team was filled with struggles which most others before him probably didn’t have to face.
Not being from either the Mumbai Ranji circuit or the Bengal / Delhi one meant that his on-field performances had to shine that much more to be noticed by the selectors. And the fact that he played for weaker teams such as Bihar and later Jharkhand also meant that he almost always ended up being in the losing side and that would not have helped matters either. For such a cricketer to make it to the national team and then go on to lead it to triumphs in all three official ICC tournaments; the ODI World Cup, the Champions Trophy and the T20 World Cup speaks volumes for the talent and more importantly the determination that Dhoni brings to the table.
Anybody who follows cricket the world over knows that being the captain of the Indian cricket team is probably the second toughest job in the world; the first being the captain of the Pakistani cricket team. Fans from the sub-continent while known to deify their winning captains also have the habit of resorting to violent backlashes against them and their families and friends when their team loses on the field. And Dhoni having led the team through the various ups and downs has managed to retain an aura of calm around him and never betrays the intense pressure that he goes through as a captain and an individual. And it is probably this attribute of his that endears him to me the most, the ability to retain his equanimity, or at least the ability to portray a calm demeanor irrespective of the results on the field.
This book devotes more than quite a few pages in trying to understand this particular aspect of his personality, and in my opinion does a decent job of the same. While not a must-read book, it sure makes for some interesting reading in terms of the fact that it helps readers understand the personality of Dhoni, one of India’s most successful captains till date.
Disclaimer: A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in return for an unbiased review.