Robin Uthappa, a right-handed batter, has revealed an interesting fact about Mahendra Singh Dhoni, saying that the former India captain has peculiar eating habits.
“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 said in an episode of ‘My Time With Heroes’ on JioCinema.
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Uthappa and Dhoni have known each other for two decades, and Uthappa fondly recalls the time they spent together. He shared the story of meeting Dhoni for the first time in 2003.
“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.
Uthappa also explained the reason for Dhoni’s phenomenal success as a captain for India and Chennai Super Kings.
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,” the 37-year-old 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,” he added.
“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 makes 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,” former CSK player said.
“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,” he said.
Additionally, Uthappa spoke about Dhoni’s other traits and shared the first conversation he had with Dhoni after the IPL auction a few years ago.
About his time at CSK in Dhoni’s presence, Uthappa said: “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.”