Former Indian opener Aakash Chopra recently revealed the confident reply he had received from MS Dhoni when he had advised the latter to cut his long hair. The gritty opener also shared anecdotes about the time when he used to share a room with the former Indian skipper.
While wishing MS Dhoni on his birthday, Aakash Chopra shared some interesting stories about the then-newcomer wicketkeeper-batsman, when the duo had shared a room long ago in 2004.
Aakash Chopra mentioned that MS Dhoni was very different from the numerous cricketers he had encountered during his career.
"I have seen a lot of cricketers in my cricket career of more than two decades, some from close quarters and some from a distance. While some had their focus on the game, others were interested in the fame. While some climbed up the stairs of success, others only had their collars up. Some were crazy about cricket while others were struck by fashion. But this guy [MS Dhoni] was unique."
The reputed commentator added that MS Dhoni was totally unlike what his looks suggested.
"He had long golden hair, white sunscreen on the face and branded goggles over his eyes. If you glance at him, you would ask him to move aside as this was a cricket ground and not a Bollywood set. But here only he mates you, like he did to me, his own roommate."
Aakash Chopra narrated an incident from India A's 2004 tour to Zimbabwe and Kenya when he and MS Dhoni had shared a room.
"The incident is from 2004, India A's tour to Zimbabwe and Kenya when me, Aakash Chopra, a Test opener, and MS Dhoni were sharing a room. When I would ask what he would like to eat, he would say whatever I wanted to order. When I would ask when he would sleep, he would say whenever I would switch off the light."
Aakash Chopra mentioned that he was taken aback by MS Dhoni's polite nature, which was quite contrary to what the former had expected.
"To say frankly, I had not expected such cordiality from this long-haired cool dude. I had thought he would say - 'You leave it, I will only order' or 'I sleep late, you can put the bedsheet on your face and sleep'. It is said that greatness starts from simplicity. Simple life, high thinking."
He added that MS Dhoni's simplicity was definitely not due to his lack of confidence.
"You will think simplicity means underconfidence. Not at all, we are talking of MS Dhoni. Inke dikhane ke daant aur khaane ke daant kuch aur hain (His appearances are very deceptive)."
Aakash Chopra shared the supremely confident reply he got from MS Dhoni when he had asked the latter to cut his hair for people to take him more seriously.
"When I told him lovingly to cut his hair as people may not consider him seriously, he responded back saying - 'I am not cutting my hair, probably people might grow their hair after seeing me'."
Aakash Chopra talked in awe about how MS Dhoni's words had come true, with the latter's hairstyle being imitated everywhere.
"It is said that Pakistan's General Pervez Musharraf had also asked him not to cut his hair. We bow to MS Dhoni, to his talk and his confidence. Nowadays in every nook and corner, we see MS Dhoni's haircut."
Aakash Chopra on MS Dhoni's unique qualities as a finisher
"If we talk about white-ball cricket, he showed a different way of chasing. There used to be a Michael Bevan who used to score his runs slowly in singles and doubles, he used to finish well in big grounds and garnered lot of fame. Then came a finisher like Lance Klusener who used to smash sixes one after the other."
He highlighted MS Dhoni's quality of planning his innings based on the number of deliveries remaining at his disposal.
"After that came MS Dhoni, who gave a new template to finishing the innings. He left that for the future for everyone to learn and do like that. He taught that the balls remaining are not as less as you feel. There is always more time than you actually think."
Aakash Chopra revealed that numerous cricketers have told him about this advice they had received from MS Dhoni.
"And this thing was told to me by cricketers who have played with him for many years, that this is what Mahi bhai tells us. He would tell them not to panic as there is lot of time left, even in T20s, forget about ODIs."
"Whether you talk to Hardik or Shivam Dube or Vijay Shankar or anyone else who has played with him, they will always tell you that Dhoni always tells you that there is more time than you think there is."
Aakash Chopra also shared the template followed by MS Dhoni of initially going for singles and doubles and then targeting the weaker links in the opposition bowling lineups.
"And how that template is created? Taking single and doubles, putting lot of pressure on the body to run well between the wickets and then pick the weaker bowler to hit sixes."
The former opener iterated that MS Dhoni has all the attributes required to be a great finisher and went on to claim that there would never be anyone like him.
"He is a person who has all the great qualities of a finisher, he has the ability to hit sixes and fours, reads the game well and takes singles and doubles brilliantly. You will never get another finisher like this."
Aakash Chopra signed off by stating that whenever a book is written on cricket, MS Dhoni would have the privilege of writing the last chapter.
"Whenever a book on cricket will be written, the finishing chapter will be written by MS Dhoni."
India have won 47 of the 50 ODI matches in which MS Dhoni has remained unbeaten while chasing. In successful ODI run chases, MS Dhoni averages a Bradmanesque 102.7, the most among all batsmen.