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Dinesh Mongia: 2.0

Last updated on 08 Dec 2023 | 10:22 AM
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Dinesh Mongia: 2.0

Mongia's cricketing career was a story of what could have been, but with a strong belief in God's plans, Mongia is shaping up his coaching career really well

Dinesh Mongia is at peace with himself. He knows he can’t get ahead of what is in store for him. Neither does he want to disrupt god’s plans. “Whatever God has for me, I will get. Everyone has a life to lead; I don’t get attached to anything anymore,” Mongia said with an almost spiritual tone. 

As we settled down for a conversation at the KSCA practice facility in Alur, Mongia seemed unusually at peace with everything that unfolded around him. With an unwavering belief in supernatural power, Mongia, a very private person through and through, goes about his business like a monk.

“I was given a gift to play cricket and I was lucky to have been a part of this sport for close to three decades. Life has been incredibly kind to me. I played for India and scored a lot of runs in domestic cricket, and now, lucky to pass on whatever little knowledge I have to serve the sport,” Mongia, who has now been entrusted with the responsibility of steering Odisha cricket as the head coach, told

For those who remember Mongia plying his trade for India in the early to mid-2000s as a spin-bowling all-rounder, he was a story of what could have been. He was never a sexy left-hander, but the dogged determination to hold one end up was visible in his steady middle-order approach. His tenacity ensured India preferred him for the 2003 World Cup in South Africa. 

But the rise of Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni meant India could afford to play another bowler in the XI, relegating Mongia to a start-stop role before the all-rounder jumped ship to join the rebel Indian Cricket League (ICL). That step didn’t turn out to be a good decision for obvious reasons, but in a huge blow, Mongia was the only player not to have received the BCCI amnesty a couple of years later. He never played a game of professional cricket after that.

It was not that Mongia didn’t try to. Still a few years of cricket left in him, Mongia had then met the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) president IS Bindra to allow him to play for the state. He even turned up for his childhood club Chetna Cricket Club in Chandigarh, but that hope didn’t materialize. 

“Probably, my career was meant to last that long. Maybe God had different plans for me. I always believed in the fact that there is a superpower controlling this universe. Everything happens for a reason,” Mongia added, with the same sense of reverence for the almighty.

He started a coaching academy - Dinesh Mongia Cricket School of Excellence - inside Sector 10 DAV College Campus in Chandigarh for those aspirants who could not afford the expenses of coaching and equipment before DAV College offered him an honorary coaching role. 

“I had a couple of options after my playing career was over - commentary or coaching. But I never like to comment on something I can’t change. So I never wanted to go in that direction. Coaching came naturally to me. So I decided to pursue whatever opportunities that came my way.

“I always believed in hope. Hope is anything that lacks evidence but makes you wake up and live another day. Anything that you can’t see - we wake up and believe this is going to be a beautiful day. That’s hope. I want to give hope to whoever I coach that they could be the best player in the state and play for India. I just want to do that,” Mongia said about his coaching philosophy.

When Mongia was coaching Arunachal Pradesh, the Odisha Cricket Association (OCA) were waking up from their slumber. After years of mediocre performance by the state side, OCA decided to look outward and hired Wasim Jaffer as the head coach of the state side. With the previous generation, led by the likes of Govinda Poddar, Biplab Samantray, and Basant Mohanty, slowly fading away, Jaffer was given the responsibility of filtering talents and strengthening the senior team roster.

But in June 2022, Jaffer was offered the role of Bangladesh’s High-Performance Director, and he decided to vacate the position in Odisha to take that role. It was then OCA reached out to Mongia and a deal was struck in April 2023. 

Mongia, who has also dabbled in movies and is an active member of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), knows the path ahead is not easy. Molding talents the right way in a cricketing backwater comes with its own set of challenges - but then, as he knows, if he has a job to do, he will do it well. Rest, everything is in the hands of God. 

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