They were trying to give me farewell: says Dhoni about Kolkata crowd

Kolkata: Mahendra Singh Dhoni believes the Kolkata crowd probably wanted to give him a fitting “farewell” as yellow fever gripped the iconic Eden Gardens during their IPL match here, with speculations rife that the talismanic former India skipper will draw curtains to his illustrious cricketing career after the ongoing IPL.

Dhoni said the Eden Gardens will witness the familiar purple hue in Kolkata Knight Riders’ next IPL game, after the crowd on Sunday turned in huge numbers wearing Chennai Super Kings’ yellow jersey as a mark of respect towards the iconic stumper-batter, in what could be his last appearance on the hallowed turf.

Having first stepped on this iconic ground as a teenager, who played Ranji Trophy for Bihar, Kolkata’s favourite son-in-law has a manic fan base as one saw Eden Gardens filled with yellow jersey, anticipating that they might not see the special man again.

“I will just say thanks for the support, they came in big numbers. Most of these guys will come in a KKR jersey next time. They are trying to give me a farewell, so thanks a lot to the crowd,” Dhoni kept it open-ended even as he took a picture with all groundsmen, one last time.

CSK out-batted KKR by 49 runs in a high-scoring IPL match, and Dhoni was all praise for his bowlers as they executed the plans well despite boundary being short on one side.

“Fast bowlers are doing their job, so are spinners in the middle. The wicket was short on one side so we needed to get early wickets and keep the pressure. They have plenty of power hitters, so we had to give the respect to the opposition.” CSK is hamstrung by injuries to first team players like Ben Stokes and Deepak Chahar but that’s the least in Dhoni’s mind.

“I have a clear funda. If someone is injured, he can’t do anything. You just move on and motivate the youngsters to perform. We have been fortunate that all the guys coming in are performing,” he said.

Ajinkya Rahane, who slammed a 29-ball 71-run innings, has got a new-found rhythm in T20 cricket after joining CSK and Dhoni feels that he has been given complete freedom to operate in the manner he wants to. The results are there for all to see.

“We realise the potential of someone when we allow him to bat the way he bats. We give him the freedom, give him the best position. In a team environment, someone has to sacrifice his slot to allow others to get more comfortable, and allow the team to succeed,” he explained