.... is widely regarded as one of the greatest finishers in limited-overs cricket...
Mahendra Singh Dhoni was born in Ranchi, Bihar (now in Jharkhand), and he identifies himself as a Rajput. His paternal village Lvali is in the Lamgarha block of the Almora District of Uttarakhand. Dhoni's parents, moved from Uttarakhand to Ranchi where his father Pan Singh worked in junior management positions in MECON. Dhoni is a fan of Adam Gilchrist, and his childhood idols were cricket teammate Sachin Tendulkar, Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan and singer Lata Mangeshkar.
Dhoni studied at DAV Jawahar Vidya Mandir, Shyamali, Ranchi, Jharkhand where he initially excelled in badminton and football and was selected at district and club level in these sports. Dhoni was a goalkeeper for his football team and was sent to play cricket for a local cricket club by his football coach. Though he had not played cricket, Dhoni impressed with his wicket-keeping skills and became the regular wicketkeeper at the Commando cricket club (1995–1998). Based on his performance at club cricket, he was picked for the 1997/98 season Vinoo Mankad Trophy Under-16 Championship and he performed well. Dhoni focused on cricket after his 10th standard. Dhoni was a Travelling Ticket Examiner (TTE) at Kharagpur railway station from 2001 to 2003, under South Eastern Railway in Midnapore (W), a district in West Bengal. His colleagues remember him as a very honest, straightforward employee of the Indian Railways.
In 1998 Dhoni was selected by Deval Sahay to play for the Central Coal Fields Limited (CCL) team. Till 1998 Dhoni, who was in class 12th in school, had played only school cricket and club cricket and no professional cricket. One of the famous episode when Dhoni used to play for CCL was when Deval Sahay used to gift him Rs 50 for each six that he hit in Sheesh Mahal tournament cricket matches. Deval Sahay, an ex Bihar Cricket Association Vice-President, was the Ranchi District Cricket President at that time and was instrumental in pushing Dhoni to the big stage of Ranchi team, junior Bihar cricket team and eventually senior Bihar Ranji Team for the 1999-2000 season. Dhoni was included in the Bihar U-19 squad for the 1998–99 season and scored 176 runs in 5 matches (7 innings) as the team finished fourth in the group of six and did not make it to the quarter-finals. Dhoni was not picked for the East Zone U-19 squad (CK Nayudu Trophy) or Rest of India squad (MA Chidambaram Trophy and Vinoo Mankad Trophy). Bihar U-19 cricket team advanced to the finals of the 1999–2000 Cooch Behar Trophy where Dhoni made 84 to help Bihar post a total of 357. Bihar's efforts were dwarfed by Punjab U-19s' 839 with Dhoni's future national squad teammate Yuvraj Singh making 358. Dhoni's contribution in the tournament included 488 runs (9 matches, 12 innings), 5 fifties, 17 catches and 7 stumpings. Dhoni made it to the East Zone U-19 squad for the CK Nayudu trophy but scored only 97 runs in four matches as East Zone lost all four matches and finished last in the tournament. Click to read more about the player