He doesn’t know if the cricketer in him is any different since fatherhood but Mahendra Singh Dhoni says daughter Ziva has certainly changed the person that he is, especially in his attempts to keep her on the “backfoot”.
The 37-year-old talismanic former India skipper, who is basking in the glory of leading Chennai Super Kings to the IPL title earlier this year, spoke on the rarely touched subject of his life after fatherhood in a show for ‘Star Sports’.
“I don’t know whether it has changed me as a cricketer, as a person yes of course because daughters are very close to their fathers,” Dhoni said.
“In my case the problem is when she (Ziva) was born I was not there (three years ago), most of the time I was playing cricket, so everything bad somehow is thrown at me (to deal with),” he added.
And the many tough aspects that he has had to deal with include ensuring that she falls in line by the mere mention of his name.
“Khana nahi kha rahi hai, papa aa jayenge khana khao (when she is not eating foot, she is told dad will come have food), is she is doing something wrong, papa aa jaeynge mat karo. So, in a way she looks at me and she is slightly on the back-foot,” Dhoni said.
Ziva was constant during this IPL, accompanying Dhoni to a lot of matches and being a part of his post-game celebrations. “I had a wonderful time with her (Ziva), she was there for the whole of IPL and one of her biggest requests used to be I have to go to the ground, that is lawn for her. And also there are lot of kids in the team. I would get up by 1:30, 2:30 or 3 in the afternoon. Ziva is up by the time, she gets up by 8.30 or 9, have her breakfast, engage with everyone, start playing… I feel it just relaxes us a bit more when the kids are playing with each other,” he said.
“I don’t know how much she follows cricket, how much she understands, but I have to bring her one day for the post match presentation and she (can) just start answering all the questions,” he quipped.
Speaking of his own routines, Dhoni revealed that he took to rowing exercises during the IPL.
“Once the tournament (IPL) started I was not in the gym anymore. I just did my rowing, (and) in Chennai I had a rowing machine in my room only, I would get up, order my breakfast and before the breakfast came, I would start my rowing,” he noted.