Happy Birthday MS Dhoni: India’s World Cup-winning captain’s journey off the field since his sabbatical

MS Dhoni, who turned 39 on Tuesday, has been a successful captain, a master batsman, a wicket-keeping all-rounder and remains one of the world’s biggest cricket icons the game has ever known.

There are numerous fairytale stories in the game of cricket but there is one which saw a small town boy from Ranchi develop himself to become the best captain, wicketkeeper in the world and the heart-throb of the nation to losing giving up captaincy and place in the squad.

MS Dhoni’s cool demeanour and poker face in tough, pressure situations became part of cricketing folklore.

However, MS Dhoni has not played competitive cricket since the 2019 World Cup as he took a sabbatical and missed the home season last year and gave the high-profile New Zealand tour in February this year a skip. Even as speculations were rife about his international future, Dhoni geared up to prepare for the Indian Premier League (IPL) which has been postponed indefinitely due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Here we take a look at what our own MS Dhoni has been doing since the World Cup 2019 sabbatical:

Lieutenant Colonel MS Dhoni completes 15-day Army stint

MS Dhoni joined the Territorial Army — 106 TA Battalion (Para) in Jammu and Kashmir on July 30 and trained with the Battalion for 2 weeks. The honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army completed his stint on August 15. MS Dhoni was deployed in the Kashmir valley as part of Victor Force. The wicketkeeper-batsman stayed with the troops and took on the duties of patrolling, guard and post duty.

Notably, MS Dhoni was in Ladakh, the new Union Territory, on the eve of India’s 73rd Independence Day. He was welcomed by the Army personnel who also took him to the General Hospital of the Army. Dhoni interacted with the patients at the hospital as well.

MS Dhoni’s off the field appearances

After his stint in the army, Dhoni was spotted in Jaipur where he was seen attending an award function. He returned to Ranchi towards mid-September to spend time with his family. He was spotted leaving the airport in his Jeep Cherokee.

Dhoni was witnessed driving his new car a rare Nissan Jonga earlier in October around Ranchi.

Dhoni ‘The Mentor’ spotted Indian dressing room

MS Dhoni was spotted in the Indian dressing room after the team’s innings and 202-run win over South Africa at the JSCA International Cricket Stadium in Ranchi in late October.

MS Dhoni, in a photograph uploaded by Board of Control for Cricket In India, was seen talking to left-arm spinner Shahbaz Nadeem who made his debut in the Ranchi.

India captain Virat Kohli also confirmed MS Dhoni was in the changeroom after the Test and came up with a light-hearted jibe at a journalist and even invited him to “come, say hi”.

MS Dhoni on family vacation with daughter Ziva and wife Sakshi

MS Dhoni was enjoying his winter vacation with his family in the snow-clad locales of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand.

Dhoni, who was seen building snowmen with his daughter Ziva, in the 1st week of the New Year, was spotted chilling in Mussoorie with his wife Sakshi. From clearing snow to posing with his family and friends, Dhoni was making the best use of his time away from international cricket.

Sakshi Singh Dhoni took to Instagram to upload multiple photos from their dreamy vacation. A couple of pet dogs can also be seen posing perfectly as Dhoni, Ziva and Sakshi are enjoying their company. enjoying his vacation with his family in the snow-clad locales of Mussoorie, Uttarakhand.

MS Dhoni turns wildlife photographer at Kanha National Park

MS Dhoni had shared a stunning photograph of a tiger from Kanha Tiger Reserve in Madhya Pradesh in Februaruy. Dhoni revealed that he spotted the tiger and the Big Cat just gave him enough time to snap some photos.

“When u spot the tiger on ur own and he obliges u with just enough time to click a few pics.Visit to kanha was outstanding (sic),” MS Dhoni wrote on Instagram after flaunting the photograph.

Dhoni along with his family and friends had visited the Kanha Tiger Reserve in January. According to the official website of the Kanha National Park, it was the 1st time MS Dhoni visited the popular national park of central India. He had arrived on a chartered plane that landed on Birsi Airstrip, Baiher.

Thala Dhoni returns to his CSK den for IPL 2020

MS Dhoni arrived in Chennai on March 1 and took part in Chennai Super Kings’ first training session at the MA Chidambaram Stadium.

Chants of “Dhoni, Dhoni….” were heard as he entered the Chidambaram Stadium and he obliged his fans with some big hits during the net session.

After jogging around for a while and doing some stretching, Dhoni put on his pads and launched a few big hits in his trademark style.

But it did not last long, as CSK officials decided to suspend the camp on March 14 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Currently, there is no clarity when or if the IPL will be played this year.

MS Dhoni sports salt and pepper lockdown look

After the IPL 2020 was suspended indefinitely due to coronavirus pandemic, Dhoni was spending time with his family at his Ranchi farmhouse with his wife Sakshi giving glimpses of the World Cup winner to his fans during the lockdown. Unlike several of his India teammates, Dhoni was not been active on social media as well.

When his daughter Ziva posted a video of MS Dhoni from a post-sunset exercise session last week, Dhoni’s look was quite unrecognisable as he sported a salt and pepper look with a thick beard. In baggy pants and t-shirt, Dhoni was running and giving his pet dog a bit of catching practice.

MS Dhoni rides a tractor

Most Indian cricket fans are aware of MS Dhoni’s extravagant collection of cars and bikes but last month, former India skipper mesmerised fans as a video of him riding tractor was shared by CSK on Twitter.

During this period of lockdown due to coronavirus, a few videos of Dhoni riding bike at his Ranchi farmhouse have surfaced. While Dhoni’s wife Sakshi has been behind the camera, the couple’s daughter Ziva has been the centre of focus while Mahi has made occasional appearances.

Speculations on MS Dhoni’s future

MS Dhoni has kept mum about his international future even as it has become a must-have in several cricket related discussions on social media.

With India’s demanding fanbase setting their sights on a T20 World Cup win in Australia later this year, speculation over Dhoni’s participation has whipped up feverish discussion.

But for cricket-obsessed India, Dhoni’s international retirement will be a moment to rival the departure of batting icon Sachin Tendulkar, who was similarly coy about his plans in the lead-up to his farewell Test in 2013.

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