“There cannot be a bigger cricketer than him in India” Former India off-spinner Harbhajan Singh has briefly put all of the emotions of MS Dhoni‘s fans in one sentence. Not Virat Kohli, not Rohit Sharma, not AB de Villiers, but, honestly very expectedly, according to Harbhajan Singh, MS Dhoni is the cricketer with the largest fanbase, even ahead of Virat Kohli, the modern-day superstar cricketer and personality.
The fact that Dhoni gets the loudest cheers at any venue he goes, even if its the opposition’s home ground, tells everything that is to know about the craze among fans, of all genders and age, for the Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Ranchi-born who became an idol for billions, the Thala for CSK fans.
And Harbhajan Singh, who shared glories in Team India and for CSK with Dhoni, speaks of the captain’s down-to-earth character with reverence; that despite the fame, adulation, and madcap fandom that he owns, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has remained the same grounded person he was 15 years ago.
“Mahendra Singh Dhoni is only one. There cannot be a bigger cricketer than him in India. Someone could have scored more runs than him and someone could have taken more wickets than him, but no one has a bigger fanbase than him,” Harbhajan Singh told Star Sports.
“Dhoni has accepted this fandom to heart and he respects his teammates as well. He walks with so much love and emotion that anyone else would go mad, but Dhoni has carried this love and emotion in his heart for 15 years and he still hasn’t changed at all.”
Mahendra Singh Dhoni recently became the first-ever player to lead a single team, in any T20 cricket league in the world, in 200 matches when he led CSK against the Rajasthan Royals (RR) this season.
MS Dhoni likely to quit IPL after the current season
Meanwhile, the 41-year-old CSK skipper has all but confirmed that the IPL 2023 is going to be his last IPL season. A veteran of 240 IPL matches, Dhoni asserted that he’s “definitely” getting old and is in the “last phase of my career”.
“[I am] Definitely old, you know, you can’t really shy away from that. Whatever said and done, it’s [the] last phase of my career,” he said at the post-match presentation on Friday in Chennai.
“However long I play, it’s very important to enjoy the IPL. After two years, it has been a case where they [the crowd] can come [and] enjoy the game. It’s a full house, they have the new stand, so it feels good to play here. And I said at the start of the tournament, we haven’t played in Chennai a lot, we have only played like six seasons. So it feels good to be here. They have given a lot of love and affection, and they always stay back to hear me out.”
CSK’s next match is against the Kolkata Knight Riders on Sunday at the Eden Gardens.