Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Sushant Singh Rajput during a promotion of Dhoni's biopic in 2016. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: There was a major emotional connect between Sushant Singh Rajput, the Bollywood star who committed suicide, and the Indian cricketers’ fraternity since the actor turned in a memorable performance in ‘M.S.Dhoni: The Untold Story’ which was a runaway hit in 2016. No wonder, it also sent shockwaves among them as the news of the 34-year-old actor’s death spread like a wildfire throughout the country.

‘‘I am shocked at the tragic passing away of #SushantSinghRajput. A life brimming with promise and possibilities and ended abruptly. My condolences to his family and fans,’’ wrote Ravi Shastri, the Indian head coach, on his official tweeter handle. Shastri’s tweet ran with a picture of a beaming Dhoni and Rajput at a promotion of the film - which turned out to be one of the most successful sports biopics - thanks to Rajput’s convincing performance and the research and effort he had put behind the role.

Dhoni, a fiercely private person, had befriended Rajput during the making of the film and the latter had gone on record about how he had worked hard to pick up the swagger in the former Indian captain’s walk and trademark strokes - including the famous helicopter shot.

Recalling Rajput's efforts to get into the skin of the character, former Indian wicketkeeper Kiran More - who helped him out with workshops - told the media: "We used to have normal practice sessions. He was treated as a normal cricketer at the nets. The fast bowlers would bowl to him. We started off with a tennis ball but there was no compromise later as he became more confident.'

"I had to take care of his face as he was an actor. He did not have any such cricketing background. He was hit so many times on the face and body, but he never complained or gave up. When you see the movie, there is young Dhoni and then the matured Dhoni...the body build-up. He had to go through that also. He lost weight then he had to put on weight again," More said.

Virat Kohli, the current India skipper, tweeted: "Shocked to hear about Sushant Singh Rajput. This is so difficult to process. May his soul RIP and may god give all the strength to his family and friends."

The news created ripples across the border in Pakistan as Shoaib Malik, a veteran allrounder and husband of Indian tennis icon Sania Mirza said on his Twitter: ‘‘Shocked to hear about Shushant Singh committing suicide, life is a long beautiful inning, 34 was not the age to let go, may your soul rest in peace. #SushantSinghRajput (1986-2020) gone too soon.’’

Little Master Sachin Tendulkar wrote: “Shocked and sad to hear about the loss of Sushant Singh Rajput. Such a young and talented actor. My condolences to his family and friends. May his soul RIP.”

Anil Kumble extended condolences to Rajput’s family and friends. “Shocked and saddened to hear about the death of #SushantSinghRajput Condolences to his family and friends. A talented actor gone too soon,” Kumble tweeted.

“Totally shaken and shocked to hear the news of #SushantSinghRajput passing away. Can’t imagine what someone must be going through #RIP,” former cricketer Mohammad Kaif tweeted.

Indian badminton star Saina Nehwal wrote, “Gone way too soon. It’s shocking and even more sad to lose such a young talented actor and a human. You will be missed on screen dhoni. #SushantSinghRajput.”

Vijender Singh, India’s Olympic medallist boxer, said the sudden demise of Rajput is ‘extremely’ shocking. “Extremely shocked why #SushantSinghRajput,” Singh tweeted.