Dhoni's retirement opens floodgates of memories for umpire Sivaram

As Mahendra Singh Dhoni walked into retirement, former international umpire, Ivaturi Sivaram, remembers the time when he first met Dhoni in a Ranji Trophy game.

Dhoni grabbed his first promotion up the order with both hands by smashing 148 against Pakistan in Visakhapatnam. Coming in at No. 3, Dhoni gave the first indications of his big-hitting prowess during the knock which was studded with 15 fours and four sixes. India posted 356/9 and won the game by 58 runs.   -  K.R. Deepak

For former international umpire, Ivaturi Sivaram, it was difficult to control his emotions when M.S. Dhoni was blazing away to his maiden ODI century against Pakistan in Visakhapatnam in April, 2005.

The reason? Sivaram was the television umpire for that match. A few years ago, he was also one of the match officials for a Ranji Trophy fixture, where Dhoni had featured for Bihar. Having seen Dhoni bat with elan, Sivaram had told other players that he could go far.

READ: Saying goodbye, the MS Dhoni way!

As the former India captain walked into retirement on Saturday, the 65-year-old Sivaram, known for his integrity and authority on cricketing laws, walked down the memory lane. “I was not surprised at all by Dhoni’s batting on that day. I vividly remember him go for some clean hitting, stepping out to both
pacers and spinners in a Ranji match,” Sivaram said.

“Well, as match officials, we are not expected to show emotions to anything that is happening out there in the middle. But, in my heart of heart, I was just telling myself how true my prediction on MS turned out to be,” he reminisced.

Ivaturi Sivaram was an international umpire till 2009. Later, he took over as umpires’ coach before donning the role of BCCI educator for Level I and II umpires. He quit in 2018.   -  Special Arrangement


“More than his cricketing abilities, what is amazing is his exemplary behaviour. He remembered me since that Ranji match. Dhoni always made it a point to walk across and gently tap on my back and exchange warm greetings,” Sivaram said.

“It was understandable in his early days but even when was the captain of Indian team, he showed the same gesture. This is what separates the ordinary from the greats..”

Sivaram feels Dhoni ‘was an umpire’s delight’, barring a few incidents. “But again, he had a reason even for that – he had to back his bowlers. And, that’s why many bowlers rated him as bowlers’ captain,” the articulate Hyderabadi, who officiated as an umpire till 2009, said. Sivaram later took over as umpires’ coach before donning the role of BCCI educator for Level I and II umpires and finally quit in 2018.

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