Srinivasan, who runs one of the country’s largest cement companies, India Cements, had been involved in the development of cricket–grassroots and international — for decades. He also owns IPL franchise Chennai Super Kings, of which Dhoni is the skipper.
Asked about Dhoni’s retirement, Srinivasan switched to Tamil to articulate a simile: “It was like karnan losing his ‘Kavasa Kundalam [karna donates his shield, taking away his invincibility]. The blow to Indian cricket is equivalent to that.”
Srinivasan backed his mythological references with facets of Dhoni’s career that were unique to the man from Ranchi. “According to me, arguably he is the best cricketer India has produced. He was a captain, he is a leader, a wicketkeeper, attacking batsman..he has won you the T20 World Cup, he has won you the ODI World cup, he has won you the Champions Trophy. Actually, what else is there for him to achieve? He is the most successful icon of the IPL…”
Dhoni has had his share of testing moments too. One such was just after India, under Dhoni, endured a horror runs in Tests, losing to England and Australia 0-4, when the selectors wanted to take away his captaincy. “I found this preposterous,” said Srinivasan. “India had just won the World Cup in 2011 and we were in Australia. Maybe we didn’t do well in the Tests. Some of the selectors wanted to remove him as the Captain of the ODI team. How is that? He has just won the World Cup…”
Among the few controversies that dogged Dhoni, one was probably his speculated role in the retirement of some senior players in the team.
Srinivasan negated that charge outright. “I don’t agree with this at all. I have been on the selection committee… He[Dhoni] has been a very unselfish fellow. He could accept an outstanding performance by somebody else. He had no role at all[in the retirement of some seniors].
Nevertheless, he gave a glimmer of insight into what was the backstory, although he didn’t get down to revealing names: “There was one administrator who played a role in the retirement of one person. I don’t even want to talk about that fellow. But MS had no role.”
Srinivasan did not want to speculate on whether the postponement of the T20 World Cup advanced the retirement of the 39-year-old Dhoni.
However, he said things will remain the same for the Chennai Super Kings. “Every CSK fan wants him to continue for forever. Don’t worry about that…”
Speaking further about Dhoni’s Chennai connection, Srinivasan remembers Dhoni’s post-match nightly ventures into Chennai on his motorbike to underscore his love for the city that has equally loved him back. Whenever he practiced in the Chepauk stadium, crowds would gather to see their “Thala” in action.
In some parts of the world, Test matches would not draw the kind of crowds that Dhoni drew for his practices here, Srinivasan, said. In words unsaid, the India Cements Chief conveyed that CSK will make up for the loss to be incurred by the Indian Cricket Team.