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MS Dhoni: ‘I couldn’t believe it’: IPL coach shocked by ‘48,000 MS Dhoni shirts’ in CSK’s away game | Cricket News

NEW DELHI: The Indian Premier League 2024 has seen its fair share of action and drama, but the main attraction continues to be the legendary MS Dhoni. Despite handing over the captaincy to Ruturaj Gaikwad before the season opener, Dhoni remains the heart and soul of the Chennai Super Kings on the field.
Dhoni’s influence is so profound that facing CSK in Chennai has become a daunting task for opponents, with crowds overwhelmingly donning Dhoni jerseys.Even during away games, CSK fans show up in large numbers, proudly wearing Dhoni’s number seven shirt.
In an interview with BBC Sport’s “Stumped,” Lucknow Super Giants coach Justin Langer shared his first-hand experience of managing a team in the IPL and the extraordinary fandom surrounding Dhoni. Langer, who has had a storied career in cricket as a player and coach, compared Dhoni’s massive following to that of cricket legends Sachin Tendulkar and Virat Kohli.
“It’s extraordinary. I heard about it first; then we played them [CSK] twice. They came to Lucknow, and our capacity crowd [in Ekana Stadium] is about 50,000, and honestly, there would have been 48,000 MS Dhoni number seven shirts. I couldn’t believe it, and then we went to CSK, and there wasn’t 98%; there was 100%. And it’s unbelievable. The hero worship in India is unbelievable,” Langer remarked.

Fans with a large banner showing Chennai Super Kings’ MS Dhoni during an IPL match in Chennai. (IANS Photo)

Reflecting on his experiences, Langer noted, “And look, I felt it when we played in India before as a player, particularly with Sachin Tendulkar. Then, when I was coaching with [Australia]Virat Kohli, and MS Dhoni, but when you get over there, it’s unbelievable.”
However, Langer also highlighted the downside of such hero worship in India, which can overshadow other players. He pointed out the recent challenges faced by Hardik Pandya and Rohit Sharmaparticularly in the context of the Mumbai Indians and the leadership transition.
“And I saw the flip side of it as well because Rohit Sharma is a huge hero in India as India captain. And what happened with Mumbai Indians this year… Hardik Pandya took over as the captain from Rohit Sharma. The much-loved Rohit Sharma. And it was really sad to watch. You know, he got booed every game by the Indian crowds. He’s the vice-captain of the Indian T20I squad. So, I saw both sides of it. I learned this from Jonty Rhodes and Morne Morkel, who’d been to the IPL before. Rather than getting upset by it, go with the flow,” Langer explained.

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