Dubai: The last time Mahendra Singh Dhoni walked in with a bat in hand for India was exactly a year back. However, as he turned 39 on Tuesday, the entire cricket fraternity thronged to social media to extend warm wishes to the enigmatic former Indian captain, still famous as ‘Captain Cool’ for his calm demeanour. Regarded as one of the most successful captains in the history of Indian cricket, Dhoni had been on a sabbatical ever since the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup where India lost to New Zealand. There have been endless speculation about his return or timing of ‘retirement’ - still making him one of the most talked about cricketers in the present era.
The fiercely private person that he is, Dhoni had not given any inkling about his plans so far, though it had been a fair guesswork to assume he would like to have a go at the IPL 2020 and then fancy his chances for one last hurrah in the T20 World Cup, still scheduled to be held in October-November. However, once the coronavirus pandemic forced an indefinite postponement for the IPL and chances of the World T20 started looking dim, the question mark over the chances of seeing that trademark ‘helicopter shot’ from Dhoni hung ominously.
The suspense over the fate of the IPL continues unabated, though the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) have started speaking their mind about keeping their options ready - with chances of the event moving overseas looking a distinct possibility. Should it happen, then there are chances of Dhoni walking out in the famous yellow shirt of Chennai Super Kings at the venues of UAE look a realistic one as the country is among the options before the Indian board to host the IPL.
The UAE and Sri Lankan boards have offered to prestigeous event quite sometime back while the New Zealand board is the latest to come up with an offer. The UAE have the edge of some prior experience of hosting a leg of the IPL in 2014 due to the Parliamentary selections in India.
There is still many a slip between the cup and the lip, with the biggest ‘if’ lying in creating a window for the IPL, which is only possible if the ICC eventually postpones their T20 showpiece for a later date.
Meanwhile, India’s head coach Ravi Shastri and captain Virat Kohli led the chorus to wish Dhoni on his 39th birthday. “Happy Birthday Youngster! Have an absolute blast Legend,” Shastri wrote in a tweet. Kohli also wished his teammate and mentor for captaincy: “Happy b’day Mahi bhai. Wish you good health and happiness always. God bless you.”
Veteran spinner and Dhoni’s former Chennai Super Kings teammate R Ashwin posted a quote praising the former India skipper and urged him to keep inspiring people as always. “Inspiration to his Army and Decimation to the Army beyond the Enemy lines” Couldn’t find a better phrase to define @msdhoni, happy birthday Mahi bhai, have a great day and continue to inspire all of us,” wrote Ashwin.
West Indies allrounder Dwayne Bravo, a longtime colleague of Dhoni in Chennai, had a musical birthday gift ready for his IPL captain. Titled ‘Helicopter 7’, the lyrics of the song, the trailer of which Bravo shared on his Instagram handle just hours ago before Dhoni’s birthday, goes as follows: “MS Dhoni, number seven, MS Dhoni, number seven, all of Ranchi shouting Dhoni, all of India shouting Mahi, all of Chennai shouting Thala, MS Dhoni is a world-beater”.
Happy Birthday, MSD!