Know Thy Dhoni celebrates the playing career and life of one of India’s greatest cricketers – Mahendra Singh Dhoni with over Over 400 Questions & Stories.
Noted author Amitava Nag, Editor in Chief, Silhouette Magazine and an avid cricket buff catches up with Aniket Mishra, the author of Know Thy Dhoni, over an email interview.
A small town boy, MS Dhoni’s meteoric rise from the initial struggles of being a ticket collector to eventually attain demi-god status in a country where people worship the gentleman’s game is well known.
Blue Pencil‘s latest publication Know Thy Dhoni, the cricket quiz book written by Aniket Mishra thus encapsulates every memory we would attach with the man – from the lesser-known facts about his early struggles to leading India to all major ICC trophies, you can quiz yourself on it all.
Know Thy Dhoni quiz book will serve as a ready reference book for all cricket lovers, and especially the fans of MS Dhoni, the legendary captain of the Indian cricket team and ace batsman and wicket keeper. Aniket is an avid quizzer and reader of all-things-sports, he is the founder of the Barefoot Sports Quizzing Festival, which has hosted 14 editions since its inception in 2012. An MPhil in Comparative Literature from University of Delhi, Aniket currently works for the Asian Football Confederation. He was Head of Media for the Local Organising Committee of the U-17 World Cup in India, which in October 2017 became the most attended youth FIFA tournament ever. Correspondingly, he also worked on the 2018 Club World Cup and the 2019 Asian Cup.
Excerpts from the interview:
Amitava: When did you start quizzing?
Aniket: My father was a quiz master, so I grew up seeing a lot of quizzes being set and conducted around me. Since Burnpur was a really small place though, it hindering my ambition to sit in a lot of them, because well, there would always be suggestions that he would have told me the answers in advance.
The first quiz that I did get selected to represent my school in, was in 1998 though, the city finals of the Maggi Quiz Contest. My father wasn’t conducting it and thus I sat for the school trials – if I remember correctly, our teacher asked a few sports questions which aided my selection. We finished 3rd in the actual quiz and the prize was sixteen packets of Maggi each – seldom has a prize made me that joyous.
Amitava: Who were you inspired by when you were initially hooked onto this vocation? For the last 2 decades which sports quiz persons do you like most.
Aniket: For as long as I can remember, I have started reading the newspaper from the last page and discontinued it, after the sports pages got over. On TV too, the only channels which I am subscribed to, are the ones who telecast sports. I can’t really pinpoint to a person or a moment which got me hooked to sports but it has just stayed with me.
I have always seen it as a performative art which I could connect with. Perhaps the failure to make it as a big a sportsperson added to the obsession, of viewing and analysing things that happen in the sporting world.
Also there would be a bunch of sportspersons who I really look up to, from the past two decades, but if I had to pick two, I would say, Michael Phelps and Serena Williams.
Amitava: How do you evolve and sustain your quizzing acumen? Are there specific methods that you follow?
Aniket: I don’t really read or watch sports to be competitive in quizzes, I do it because I like sports – the quizzing bit tends to just happen.
As for mediums, I use the usual ones – TV, the world wide web in general and books to sustain my interest.
Amitava: Why did you choose M S Dhoni as a subject for your quiz book ‘Know Thy Dhoni’?
Aniket: I have always been very intrigued by Dhoni. To evolve the way he did and what he achieved in process is incredible, and I thought it would make for a great subject for a quiz book.
Also, cricket is a very statistic heavy sport, so that made it slightly easier – I mean I can’t ask, the score of one player playing a team sport in a match from 10 years ago from any other sport, but to ask how much did Dhoni score in the 2011 World Cup final is an acceptable question.
Amitava: If there are 3 primary reasons why you consider Dhoni is different from any Indian cricketer before or after him, what will those 3 be?
Aniket: The age old saying of winners don’t do different things, they do things differently is what epitomises Dhoni for me. He doesn’t try and reinvent the wheel while he plays – he just keeps calm and backs himself and his teammates to deliver in the big moments. If at all, he had a change of heart, and decided to take up a desk job, I think he would make a terrific manager – who else would you back to inspire his team and back them no matter what under pressure.
Amitava: There are 40 chapters in the book. Is there a rationale behind the division of chapters?
Aniket: Not really, after I got done with the questions and the short stories, I ran it past a few friends and we thought this number of around 400 was just right – it wasn’t too less and it wasn’t too much, so I decided to stick with it.
Amitava: The sections in each chapter are titled ‘Singles’, ‘Doubles’, ‘Boundaries’ and ‘Over Boundaries’. Any particular reason why you wanted to emphasize the section titles based on batting, and not say, wicket-keeping?
Aniket: I would say they make the person attempting the questions feel slightly more confident than if the sections were named after wicket-keeping terms like ‘caught’ and ‘stumped’! Also, it helped me build each chapter progressively on the basis of difficulty (or rather what I thought was slightly difficult to remember/recollect)
Amitava: There are interesting anecdotes with each chapter in the book. Do you wish to highlight any specific aspect of Dhoni’s character while choosing them?
There’s been so much written about Dhoni over the years that I didn’t wish to scavenge new facts. It was about putting together everything we would have heard about him over the years in one place and letting the already revered story of the small town boy who became one of India’s most celebrated sportspersons being reminisced
Amitava: Any other sports persons on whom you wish to work on as well? Or may be a general book on Sports quiz not focusing on any individual?
Aniket: The idea was to come out of with 4 such books on sports – one on another champion athlete and a couple of them on broader sporting topics. I am working on them currently – hopefully I will manage to put them together soon.
Amitava: For all the young aspiring quizzers what will be your advice and tips for preparation?
Aniket: Pick an interest area and follow it passionately – read about it, watch it if it’s a performative art, do whatever makes you feel involved in some way or the other – I think that will help you in falling in love with what you get quizzed about later too.
Also, and this is the most important bit – sit in as many quizzes as you can – you might lose a few but it’s not an exam anyway, enjoy the process – because it makes for an amazing pastime.
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