Dhoni is an inspiration, I want to meet him someday

Dhoni will always remain special. I do wish to have a conversation with him sometime and find out how he manages to keep his cool despite the odds.

Abir Chatterjee (in purple) says he has been lucky enough to have met some of his heroes like Kapil Dev and Sourav Ganguly.   -  Ashoke Chakrabarty

I belong to an industry which revolves around lights, camera and action, but cricket has always been my first love. Growing up in Kolkata in the early 1990s, I aspired to play the game at the highest level.

And I still remember those moments when we would play junior-level cricket tournaments at the iconic Eden Gardens and dream of donning the India colours.

It’s a different story that, over the years, I fell in love with cinema and eventually joined the film industry. But even now, I make it a point to watch the game live in action.

Just the other day, as yesteryear heroes gathered in Melbourne for the bushfire charity fixture, it brought back so many memories. Watching Brian Lara hit those classy boundaries were a treat to the eye. I remember how I would admire Lara’s back-lift, back in the school days, and would often try to imitate him. Having grown up watching Sachin Tendulkar, Wasim Akram, Allan Donald and Lara — I can recollect so many fixtures that still remain special.

The first time I watched an international fixture was in 1992 when South Africa played India at the Eden Gardens. That was the first time we saw Donald impressing the crowd and as budding cricketers, many of us were thrilled to see him dominating the Indian batsmen. That’s a memory I will always cherish.

Even though I have watched innumerable matches at the Eden Gardens, I often regret the decision of not attending the fourth day’s play of the second Test between India and Australia in 2001.

My best friend and I had season tickets for all the five days, but after India struggled in the first three days, we decided to give the fourth day a miss. And on our way back from college, a few friends informed us about the historic partnership between Rahul Dravid and V. V. S. Laxman, which eventually turned the match India’s way. Even now, my friend and I rue the decision of skipping the fourth day. Being a cricket fan, that was a big miss.

Over the years, I have been lucky enough to have met some of my heroes like Kapil Dev and Sourav Ganguly. And every time you meet the legends, you learn a thing or two.

However, I do wish to meet Mahendra Singh Dhoni someday. He is younger than I am, but has been a source of inspiration to many of us. I admire his calmness and salute his tactical acumen. Dhoni will always remain special. I do wish to have a conversation with him sometime and find out how he manages to keep his cool despite the odds. Fingers crossed!

Abir Chatterjee is an Indian actor.

As told to Shayan Acharya.