Former India captain, MS Dhoni sacrificed his availability for the West Indies tour, in order to serve in the Indian Army. The 38-year old officially commenced his 2-month training regime after travelling to Bangalore earlier this week to join his regiment.
According to sources, the plan was already in place for him to serve out his time in the armed forces. The source said, “Just like Dhoni has been one of the greatest servants of Indian cricket, his love for the armed forces is also well-known. This idea that he would go and spend time with his regiment was in the pipeline for a while but it took a backseat due to his cricketing commitments.”
“This will also help increase awareness among the youth about the armed forces and that is what Dhoni wants.”
Thought-provokingly, some critics viewed the situation as highly convenient, especially with the controversy surrounding the Amrapalli Group. They believed that MS Dhoni was dodging the entire controversy.
However, there were numerous other voices who praised MS Dhoni for his dedication to the country. The likes of Kapil Dev and Gautam Gambhir lauded Dhoni’s decision and believed that it will inspire the youth to serve the country.
Gambhir said, “Dhoni’s move is amazing. I have said many times before that Dhoni should wear the Army uniform only when he does something for the army and now Dhoni has decided to spend time with the Army, it shows that how devoted and serious he is to the Army. This step of Dhoni will work as inspiration for many young people of the country and they will be motivated to join the Army,”
“I had always said this, we shouldn’t be wearing the uniform of defence personnel, we should do something for them, then we should wear it.”
“Today, MS Dhoni has shown the entire country how serious he’s for the uniform. I’m sure the step he has taken to go to Kashmir and serve the Army, do patrolling, it is a historic step which will motivate the youth and he can become a huge role model, ” said Gambhir .
“I always used to criticise that MS Dhoni should do something for defence forces, then he should have been given the uniform of the Territorial Army, I think he has now kept in front of the country, how serious he is about it and how he wants to serve his army and what is his thinking, so hat’s off to him,”
Similarly, Kapil Dev echoed the sentiment, saying, “What Dhoni has done, it is a big decision. This will motivate the youth of the country.” I think the youth of the country should spend some time with the army, which can help the country and young people learn new things as well.”
MS Dhoni’s primary job entails, carrying out patrolling, guard and post duties in Kashmir. According to an Indian Army statement, “Lieutenant Colonel (Honorary) MS Dhoni is proceeding to 106 TA Battalion (Para) for being with the Battalion from 31 Jul-15 Aug 19.”
“As requested by the officer and approved by Army Headquarters; he will be taking on the duties of patrolling, guard and post duty and would be staying with troops.”
Interestingly, the legendary Sir Don Bradman also served in the armed forces as he joined the Australian Air Force in 1940. On the Indian front, MS Dhoni is hardly the first Indian cricketer to join the armed forces. In fact, India’s first Test captain, Cottari Kanakaiya Nayudu, was conferred the title of Colonel.
Coming back to MS Dhoni, he became a qualified paratrooper in 2015 after completing five parachute training jumps from an Army aircraft at a training camp in Agra. The Army was so pleased with Dhoni’s progress that General Bipin Rawat proudly declared that Dhoni will be protecting the citizens instead of needing protection.
Speaking to NDTV exclusively, Rawat said, “I don’t think we will need to protect him, he will protect the citizens and garrison entrusted to his task,”
“When a citizen of India wants to don the military uniform then he has to also be prepared to fulfill the task for which the uniform has been assigned to him. MS Dhoni has carried out his basic training and we know that he will be able to accomplish the task.
“In fact, he will be protecting a lot of other people because he will now be performing with the 106 Territorial Army battalion (Para). It is a very good battalion and they have been performing line of communication duties, static protection and he will be a part of it,”
MS Dhoni has already retired from Test cricket and retirement from other formats may soon follow. During the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, there was a lot of speculation that Dhoni would retire upon conclusion of the tournament.
Coming to the Indian team, the Men in Blue will be facing off against the Windies in 3 T20Is, 3 ODIs and 2 Tests.