Cricket icon Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Saturday returned to competitive action after 437 days — a period that seemed an eternity to his fans — with an unusual beard that would be something between a goatee and full-grown one, and a new hairstyle. But his wicket-keeping was spot-on as he grabbed two catches and didn’t concede a single bye in Mumbai Indians’ 162/9 in the IPL opener against Chennai Super Kings in Abu Dhabi.
And when the TV ran commercials between the overs, 39-year-old Dhoni made his presence felt in that space too. He seemed to be appearing in every second advertisement, for different products and in different looks — from endorsing mutual funds to a fantasy sports app.
Seeing their favourite cricketer in an all-new avatar got Dhoni fans talking. Many others drew parallels between him and Tamil actor Suriya who rocked a similar look in 2013’s Singam 2.
hmm dhoni is looking fit.. looks like singam moustache— i (@xMselva) September 19, 2020
#அன்புத்தலைவன்சூர்யா#SooraraiPottru#CSKvsMI Thala dhoni look like singam suriya see his moustache looks like singam meesai pic.twitter.com/gvs9WBl674— VIJAY KUMAR (@VijayKu30971383) September 19, 2020
Dhoni’s last competitive match was last year’s World Cup semi-final against New Zealand on July 9, and since then he has indulged in a variety of activities, even as speculation raged whether or not he would be picked for India again. Despite then national selection committee chairman MSK Prasad clarifying a few times that his panel was “looking ahead" and not ‘backwards’ (read Dhoni) vis-ï¿½-vis the India wicket-keeper’s slot, all kinds of speculation continued.
However, Dhoni seemed unperturbed by the tittle-tattle and kept posting photos and videos of his extracurricular activities. From posting a video of his cute little daughter Ziva playing guitar on a snow-capped hill on Instagram to commenting on Rafale aircraft on Twitter when they were inducted into the Indian Air Force this month.
Coming back to Saturday’s contest between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings, Dhoni managed to shock everyone when he got a DRS call wrong, convincing everyone that 2020 was not the best year after all.
But Dhoni being Dhoni redeemed himself later on in the game when he was adjudged out for clipping the ball to the keeper on the first delivery he faced on the crease. As he challenged the decision, the replays showed a flat line on the Snickometer, proving it’s called ‘Dhoni Review System’ for a reason.
(With IANS inputs)