Mahendra Singh Dhoni is easily winning the popularity contest this IPL season. Wherever Chennai Super Kings captain Dhoni has played so far, he has received massive support from fans in IPL 2023, be it at his home venue in Chepauk or away matches at M Chinnaswamy, Wankhede, Eden Gardens or Motera .
Fans thronged the stadium in large numbers to support the legendary India skipper, who will be retiring after this season.
Dhoni himself has admitted that he is at the last stage of his career.
In CSK’s away matches, the stadium is seen bathed in the yellow hue of the spectators.
Almost half the stadium at Eden Gardens was lit in yellow on Sunday night, a testimony to Dhoni’s immense popularity.
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Fans went wild when Dhoni walked out to bat in the final over against KKR on Sunday with just two balls to spare in the innings. It was an iconic moment as the entire crowd was chanting “Dhoni…Dhoni…” at the home ground of Kolkata which is considered to be CSK’s big rival.
The atmosphere was such that even KKR batsman Venkatesh Iyer sitting in the dugout could not control himself and started shivering at Dhoni’s loud voice.
Answering the question of News18 CricketNext in a select media interaction, legendary Australian fast bowler Brett Lee shared his thoughts on the massive support Dhoni and CSK are receiving across India.
Lee is not surprised by the love that fans have for India’s 2011 World Cup-winning captain. He said that Dhoni has fans all over the world and the amount of love and support he is getting this season is fantastic for the game of cricket.
“Are you wearing the yellow shirt now? Wherever CSK plays and wherever it is M S Dhoni Here is the bat Dhoni has fans not only in India but all over the world. I think it’s great for cricket, we saw it the other evening when CSK played in Kolkata last night and half the stadium was in yellow shirts. I think it’s healthy because it shows love and support for someone like MSD. I am very impressed with the way he is playing,” JioCinema IPL expert Lee replied to News18’s CricketNext query.
In terms of batting, Dhoni hasn’t been facing too many balls this season as he has come down to bat at No.5 but he has certainly made an impact in a few matches including two powerful sixes off Mark Wood against Lucknow Super Giants. have achieved success. He has scored 61 runs this season at a strike rate of 196.77.
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However, the 46-year-old suggested that with the introduction of an impact player, there is a chance that Dhoni might consider playing for another year or two.
“You never want these heroes and icons of the game to retire, whether it is their last year or not, but I think now with the replacement rule (Impact player rule), he can play for a year or two. It’s great for the game,” he said.
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Meanwhile, the kind of support Dhoni is getting at away venues is catching everyone’s attention as some are beginning to feel that CSK has negated the teams’ home advantage a bit this season.
However, Lee had some other ideas as he feels that this is going to make the rivalry stronger on the field.
“I don’t think it changes the home advantage. I think it makes the rivalry stronger,” he said.