As much as a cricketer’s career is scrutinised and debated upon in India, their lives and stories related to it garner equal attention. It is only natural that this happens, for most cricketers become household names in this nation and following them and their whereabouts becomes something that Indians seek pride in.
There are downsides to it as well, as, at times, the passion goes overboard and those very cricketers are named and shamed, sometimes aggressively, whenever the team fails to perform.
Elucidating all of this through a three-hour-long movie, thus, would have been an arduous task for Neeraj Pandey and company when they would have set out to make a biopic on the life of India’s most gifted captain, who was also, perhaps, the luckiest one.
One of the problems that they would have encountered for sure in the early stages would have been the responsibility to show to the audience what they do not know. A chronicled cricketer like MS Dhoni needs no formal introduction and the craze that cricket drives in India meant that the fans already knew most of what was to unfold before them on the screen.
Therefore, credits must be given to the filmmakers for bringing to the fore some of the untouched and unknown parts of the cricketer's life, in order to enable the fans to get a closer look into the story that made Dhoni what he is today.
Here are five instances from Dhoni's life and career that would have remained unknown to most of his fans, had it not been for the biopic.
#5 Dhoni overpowered by Yuvraj in Cooch Behar Trophy final 1999-2000
The Under-19 Cricket World Cup of 2000 was a revelation of sorts for two of India’s most famous cricketers who played in the first decade of the 21st century. Yuvraj Singh and Mohammad Kaif (Kaif led the Indian colts in the tournament) took giant strides in their respective careers using their performances in the world tournament as a pedestal.
Dhoni, on the other hand, first came into the picture in 2005, despite being of the same age as Yuvraj and Kaif, when blasted the now-fabled 148 against Pakistan in Visakhapatnam, despite having made his debut in 2004 vs Bangladesh.
However, had Dhoni been a little more cautious in the Cooch Behar Trophy final of the 1999-2000 season that was held at the Keenan Stadium, Jamshedpur, and had things gone his way to some extent, he might have played alongside the aforementioned gentlemen, who were, in due course of time, about to become his teammates in the senior team.
Batting at No. 7, Dhoni, playing for Bihar, helped revive his team from a precarious situation of 159/5 and led them to stumps at 254 without any more losses on Day 1. At Stumps, he was unbeaten on 70 off 116 balls having already hit 11 fours and two sixes. His batting partner, Ratan Kumar, was unbeaten on 77.
However, it was on the next day that the game turned on its head, and with it, washed away Dhoni’s chances of making it to the India U-19 squad for the World Cup that was looming within touching distance.
The overnight duo could only add 20 more runs on the following morning as Dhoni miscued a delivery from a Punjab bowler and was caught for 84. Bihar, thereafter, were bowled out for 357.
Punjab, in reply, finished day 2 on 108/1 with their captain Yuvraj Singh unbeaten on 24. The following two days spelt doom for Bihar and their dreams of winning the title, but more so for Dhoni and his dreams of making it to the India U-19 side, as he could only watch, helplessly, from behind the stumps, as Yuvraj massacred the Bihar bowlers to all parts of the Keenan for more than two days.
The left-handed batsman hit a triple hundred – after being unbeaten on 232 on Day 3 – and was finally dismissed for 358, that was one run more than Bihar’s total in the first innings. Punjab mounted 839/5 and won the championship on the basis of the lead in the first innings.
In the movie, it was shown that Dhoni was extremely disappointed with his dismissal in the first innings, and lamented the fact that he couldn’t get to bat in the 2nd innings.