Former Indian cricketer Sunil Gavaskar believes that MS Dhoni has left the likes of Virat Kohli and Sachin Tendulkar behind in terms of popularity in India. On Saturday, September 19, Dhoni made his return to competitive cricket after 14 months since he played in the 2019 World Cup semi-final against New Zealand at the Old Trafford in Manchester.
The 39-year-old, on his comeback, guided the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) to a five-wicket victory against the Mumbai Indians (MI) in the opening match of the 2020 Indian Premier League (IPL). The 71-year-old Gavaskar said that Dhoni has fan-following across the whole of India.
Gavaskar praises MS Dhoni
“Since MSD comes from Ranchi, which doesn’t have a cricket culture as such, the whole India loves him. Tendulkar has Mumbai and Kolkata, Kohli has Delhi and Bengaluru but when you talk of Dhoni it’s the whole India,” Gavaskar was quoted as saying in The Times of India (TOI).
In the opener at the Sheikh Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, Dhoni didn’t have much to do. With the keeping gloves, he took a couple of easy catches to dismiss Kieron Pollard and Krunal Pandya. During the run-chase, he came to bat number seven and played out a couple of dot balls after which Faf du Plessis, who made 58 off 44, smashed the winning runs.
As far as the game was concerned, CSK, after winning the toss and electing to field first, restricted the opposition to 162 for nine in 20 overs. Rohit Sharma and Quinton de Kock put on 46 for MI in a mere 4.4 overs, threatening to take the game from the Super Kings. Saurabh Tiwary also churned out 42 off 31 and kept the Yellow Army on the backfoot for a while.
However, CSK didn’t allow MI to press the accelerator by picking up regular wickets. During the run-chase, Dhoni and Co lost the early wickets of Shane Watson and Murali Vijay. However, Ambati Rayudu and Faf du Plessis’ 115-run stand put CSK on the driver’s seat. In the end, Sam Curran’s 6-ball 18 made sure that CSK got past the finishing line with four balls to spare.