MS Dhoni got a hero’s welcome as he walked out for his first net session for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) on Monday ahead of this year’s Indian Premier League (IPL). In an interview, Dhoni, who is the second-most successful captain of IPL with CSK, credited the franchise with making him a better player and helping him tackle some difficult situations both on and off the field.
“…CSK has helped me improve in everything, whether it was being a human being or being a cricketer, handling situations that are tough both in and out of the field and how to be humble once you are doing well,” Dhoni was quoted as saying on a Star Sports show.
The 38-year-old is grateful for the love and respect he gets from CSK fans as they chant the title ‘Thala’ whenever he comes out to bat.
“‘Thala’ basically means brother, so for me it’s more the abstract of the fans, the love and affection towards me is the reflection of that,” he said.
“Whenever I am in Chennai or down South they never call me by my name, they address me as ‘Thala’ and the moment someone calls me ‘Thala’ they are showing their love and respect but at the same time he is a CSK fan.”
— Chennai Super Kings (@ChennaiIPL) March 3, 2020
India’s former batting coach Sanjay Bangar has pointed out the positives in Dhoni’s decision to take a break after India’s semi-final loss to New Zealand in the 2019 World Cup. Bangar believes it can help the wicketkeeper-batsman reinvent himself.
“It is tough to find rhythm initially but it can also be a huge advantage. When you are playing international cricket, the amount of pressure you are under, you sort of getting into a tunnel vision with regard to various responsibility and the needs of the team.
“So from a player perspective, if he has taken a break for 6-7 months, he has a good chance to rediscover, refresh and reinvent,” he said on the show.
Dhoni will return to the field on March 29 as CSK take on defending champions Mumbai Indians at Mumbai’s Wankhede stadium. This IPL will also decide whether Dhoni makes an international comeback ahead of T20 World Cup 2020.