Guwahati: Somi Kohli, owner of cricket equipment manufacturing company 'Beat All Sports' (BAS), has recently recalled when he decided to sponsor a lanky cricketer from Ranchi on the insistence of one of his dealers, Paramjeet Singh.
The lanky cricketer is none other than Mahendra Singh Dhoni, former Indian captain, and 2007 T20 World Cup and 2011 World Cup-winning captain. On Saturday, as Dhoni announced his retirement from international cricket, Kohli remembered the day he first sent cricket kits for Dhoni.
Kohli told media that his dealer Paramjeet Singh had been calling him consistently to tell about this young cricketer from Ranchi. It took him 6 months to be convinced, but he sent the kits to Mahendra Singh Dhoni in February, 1998, and the duo has been connected ever since.
The Jalandhar based Kohli says that when he got to know about Dhoni's retirement yesterday, he could not believe it first and could not sleep for hours.
After several years of association, Kohli first met the cricketer in 2004 during the J P Atray Memorial cricket tournament at Chandigarh. Dhoni made his debut for India later that year against Bangladesh at Chaattogram in December 2004 and later visited Kohli at his factory in Jalandhar for bats before the India-Pak series in 2005.
Kohli recalls that Sachin Tendulkar too talked with him when Dhoni visited Jalandhar and told me to give Dhoni good bats. Kohli says that that day, Dhoni stayed at his home. When he told his wife Manju Kohli, did not know who Dhoni was as he was still a relative unknown at that point of time.
The next day, Dhoni told Kohli that he could not sleep for hours thinking about my wife's words. Dhoni called Kohli at 11 in the night after scoring a hundred against Pakistan and asked him if he could talk to his wife. He told her, 'Auntie, main Dhoni.' Kohli's wife told him, 'Beta, now the whole world knows who Dhoni is.'
Last year, prior to the 2019 World Cup in England, Dhoni had asked for BAS logos and according to Kohli, it was Dhoni's way of thanking all the equipment companies which have supported him through his career.
"He could have earned crores with a deal but he wanted to show his gratitude. That makes him the Kohinoor of Indian cricket," he said.