Throughout his India career, MS Dhoni maintained a tight lid over his personal life, even announcing his international retirement with a characteristically understated social media post. For his former teammate VVS Laxman, however, Dhoni was a happy-go-lucky guy off the field, recalling two instances of his jovial personality from their playing days.
Early in his international career, Dhoni was widely typecast as purely a limited-overs player owing to his unconventional technique. Yet, within a year of his ODI team, Dhoni had made his way to the Test team, debuting in the home series against Sri Lanka in late 2005, before travelling to Pakistan for his first overseas tour.
Speaking to Star Sports’ Cricket Connected, Laxman recalled how Dhoni “surprised” everyone with a sudden proclamation in the dressing room, right after scoring his maiden Test century in his first innings of the series in 2006.
"He’s all logic and rationale, devoid of the sentimental outbursts that affect most other players in the heat of a contest."
— Wisden India (@WisdenIndia) August 16, 2020
“Two instances of MS Dhoni that I will never, ever forget,” said Laxman,”No. 1 was when he got his first Test hundred against Pakistan in Faisalabad. I still remember him coming back into the dressing room and loudly saying ‘I am going to announce my retirement – MS Dhoni, mai hundred maara Test cricket mein, bas yaar [I, MS Dhoni, have hit a century in Test cricket…that’s it!]. I don’t want anything more from Test cricket!’ And we were shocked and surprised to hear that. But that’s what MS Dhoni always was.”
A few years later, when Dhoni had marked his meteoric ascent by taking over the Test captaincy from Anil Kumble, he surprised his teammates by taking over the wheel of the team bus during Laxman’s 100th Test, asking the bus driver to take a seat with the rest of the team.
“The second time was in a Test match against Australia in Nagpur,” Laxman said. “He was the captain of the Indian team, because Anil [Kumble] announced his retirement two matches before in Delhi. And MS Dhoni asked the team bus driver to just go and sit behind, and he drove the team bus from the ground to the hotel in Nagpur, and we were all awestruck. The captain of the Indian team, driving the team bus!
“That’s how he used to enjoy his life. For him, being a cricketer was doing everything on the cricket field, but outside the field, everything was normal.”