He has quit longest format five years back but local boy Mahendra Singh Dhoni is expected to watch the third and final Test against South Africa beginning here Saturday, his manager Mihir Diwakar confirmed. “Mahi will definitely come and you will see him during the first day’s proceedings tomorrow. I was there with him in Mumbai and he will fly down tomorrow morning,” Dhoni’s manager and one-time Jharkhand teammate Diwakar told PTI from New Delhi. The Jharkhand State Cricket Association president, Nafis Khan, has personally sent an invitation to Dhoni’s family. “We have sent an invitation to his family. Yeh to unka hi stadium hai (It’s his stadium only). He is most welcome anytime,” Khan said.
However, his friend, Diwakar, who is the founder of Aarka Sports that runs MS Dhoni Cricket Academy, said Dhoni is likely to come alone as the Indian team is likely to have dinner at his sprawling farmhouse in Simaliya, in outskirts of Ranchi. Dhoni has moved from his Harmu residence about two years back and lives with his parents at his farmhouse about 30 kilometres from the city. Post India’s World Cup semi-final exit, Dhoni’s whereabouts has been a matter of speculation as the ‘Captain Cool’ took a sabbatical and opted out of the series against West Indies and South Africa, fuelling retirement speculations. Dhoni is certainly not going to be picked for the upcoming series against Bangladesh.
Diwakar said nobody knows about Dhoni’s cricket decisions. “All cricketing decisions are solely made by him. No one other than him knows about his cricketing decisions. You have seen how he stopped playing Tests. It’s difficult to predict, and we don’t discuss that matter. What will be the difference between commmon public and friends if we start asking him the same questions?” Dhoni’s childhood coaches Keshav Ranjan Banerjee and Dr Moti Prasad, who is still the sports teacher at the DAV School, also feel people should leave him alone. “Dhoni has been playing relentlessly since 2004 so he deserves this break. I think he will play the World Twenty20 next year in Australia,” Banerjee speculated. “Media should leave him alone. No other player has so much of experience like Dhoni. There’s no doubt that Indian cricket needs Dhoni,” Prasad said.
Dhoni had already retired from the format when it hosted its first Test, against Australia in March 2017 which had ended in a draw despite a double ton from Cheteshwar Pujara and century from Wriddhiman Saha.