On a long forced break after the triumphant one-day series against Zimbabwe in June, Team India’s limited over captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is doing everything he enjoys but had been missing due to the back-to-back tournaments both in India and overseas over the last couple of years.
He is spending as much time with his daughter, Ziva, going on long drives on his favourite two and four-wheelers , working out at the gym and above all playing football, which is a favourite sport after cricket.
On Saturday he pulled a large crowd to the Silli AstroTurf Stadium near Jharkhand capital Ranchi as he played a full 90-minute football match with professionally trained soccer players amidst heavy downpour.
Playing for the Silli Sports Academy, a sports facility promoted by his politician friend, Sudesh Mahato, who is an equally talented soccer player, Dhoni’s team defeated Ranchi XI, a football club, by 6-2 goals. While he scored a stupendous goal, he played a crucial role in at least two other goals by skillfully dribbling and passing the ball to the right player at the net.
He exhibited exemplary soccer prowess leaving the crowd cheering and screaming all through the match. The stadium reverberated with the chants of “Mahi…Mahi” as the local hero displayed his endurance, agility and moves on the ground.
“I played a full soccer match after a long time and enjoyed it thoroughly,” Dhoni said, after the match.
He played left forward and remained the most active performer of his team.
“Dhoni’s presence in the field is a great motivation for other players. There is so much to learn from him,” said Sudesh, who had facilitated the match, and played mid field in Dhoni’s team.
After the match, Dhoni felicitated two girls who had won national titles in Wushu Championship.
Dhoni will be next seen in in an international cricket match in October during the limited overs leg of the series against New Zealand. Till then, he said, he would do everything he has missed out over the years.
While taking the much awaited break in June, he had quipped that his daughter still doesn’t recognize him. “I will make my daughter feel that I am her dad and spent time with family and friends.” He seems to be living every moment of this free time.