Often for his demeanour on the cricket field, MS Dhoni has been termed as an enigma. However, his former India and CSK teammate Robin Uthappa feels like the World Cup winning India captain is ‘the most uncomplicated person in the world’.
“His simplicity is something that’s always been there and it’s something that hasn’t changed. He’s just as simple today as he was the first time I met him. Dhoni is the most uncomplicated person in the world,” Uthappa told Jio Cinema during the special feature, ‘My Time With Dhoni ft. Uthappa’.
Trying to further decode Dhoni the person, Uthappa added, “MS is a very open person. He does not hesitate in speaking the truth, even if it hurts you. I remember when I was signed by CSK in the auction, he called me and said, ‘I am not sure if you’ll get a chance to play because the season is still far away and I haven’t given it any thought. If you do end up playing, I will let you know.’ By now, I had enjoyed 13 successful years in the IPL. Still, he told me to my face what he had to do. I still appreciate that a lot.”
Uthappa, who was part of the 2007 T20 World Cup winning India squad, opened up on his first time meeting Dhoni, narrating an incident where Dhoni ended up injuring former India cricket Sridharan Sriram.
“The first time I saw MS was in 2003 at an India camp at NCA Bangalore. He was batting against Munaf Patel back when he used to bowl really fast with the sling action. Other fast bowlers were also bowling. MS was batting and hitting long sixes off them. He actually ended up injuring S Sriram. Sriram was bowling to him and Dhoni stepped out and hit the ball extremely hard. Sriram touched it with his hand and the ball went 10-20 yards back. We thought Sriram was running after the ball, but he ran past it and straight into the dressing room because he broke two fingers. We wanted to see how much power MS has and it was explosive. At that moment, I knew he was going to play for India. He’s a special batsman.”
Uthappa further recalled, “We used to always eat together. We had a group: Suresh Raina, Irfan Pathan, RP Singh, Piyush Chawla, Munaf (Patel), MS and me. We would order dal makhni, butter chicken, jeera aloo, gobi and rotis. But MS is a very rigid person when it comes to eating. He would eat butter chicken but without the chicken, only with the gravy! When he ate chicken, he wouldn’t eat the rotis. He is quite weird when it comes to eating.”
Dhoni remains the only captain to win the two World Cups (T20 and ODI) and the Champions Trophy and is often referred to as the greatest captain in international cricket history. “He has sharp instincts and he backs his own instincts. That’s why he’s been such a successful captain. He takes responsibility for every outcome, whether it is a win or a loss. If he takes a bad decision because of his instincts, the man can’t sleep for a few days. He starts overthinking. If a good captain’s instincts are sound 4 or 5 out of 10 times, Dhoni’s instincts are sound 8 times or 9 times.”
Uthappa was part of the 2021 IPL winning CSK squad and scored 63 and 31 in the Qualifier 1 and the final as the yellow army won their fourth league title, “In the first season, I saw everyone in the squad calling him Mahi bhai. I went up to him and asked if I should call him Mahi bhai too. He dismissed it saying, call me what you want, it makes no difference. Please call me Mahi only.”