The aura and mystery behind MS Dhoni’s cult status

Dhoni is yet to announce his retirement. (Source:

Ever since MS Dhoni smashed a career-defining hundred against Pakistan in Vizag in 2005, his name has been at the forefront of national consciousness. Many years ago, fans wanted to know how many litres of milk Dhoni drinks every day. Or something about the evolution of Dhoni’s long hair.

Incidentally, every time MS Dhoni walked out to bat in IPL 2024, the decibel levels inside cricket stadiums peaked to anywhere between 95 to 125 dB. Even when CSK took on Lucknow Super Giants in an away game, it seemed as if the former were playing at their beloved Chepauk stadium.

As Justin Langer, the LSG head coach, told BBC, “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%. The hero worship in India is unbelievable.”

At the fag end of his illustrious career, Dhoni is touching some kind of ‘demigod’ status. Such is the hero worship on display that you probably need to flip through thousands of pages of a Cambridge Dictionary to find the right adjective. Dhoni’s ever-increasing popularity also brings up a question – How has the Dhoni-brand stayed relevant through the years?

Here, it is to be noted that fans across the length and breadth of the country are aware that they are basically watching the last bit of Dhoni’s genius gene on a cricket field. So, there is a sentimental factor attached to the kind of fervent support for Dhoni that we have witnessed in the recent past. But that can’t be the only reason behind his burgeoning aura.

Perhaps, it is also down to how he has managed his social media platforms. Or, rather, Dhoni has ensured that his brand doesn’t get overexposed in the digital age. Just scroll through Dhoni’s Instagram account, and you would observe that after he announced his retirement from international cricket in 2020, he has made only four posts in the last four years. It includes one congratulatory message to the Indian team for their recent T20 World Cup triumph in the Caribbean.

To illustrate the point further, this year, Dhoni ended up visiting the Hockey stadium in Ranchi to watch India taking on Germany in an Olympic qualifier game. Suddenly, there was huge media interest. Although a few photos of Dhoni witnessing the on-field action were clicked by certain official news agencies, he didn’t give news bytes to any of the media outlets.

For a moment, also imagine taking a time machine back to the 1990s or even early 2000s. Barring a few magazines, fans had limited access to garner details about their movie or cricket stars. Nowadays, a fan can avail information from various sources – social media platforms, Google search engines, YouTube to news channels. In such a scenario, after a while, the interest of an individual to know more about a cricketer or another sportsperson might get saturated.

The mystery and myth of ‘Thala’ Dhoni is such that in an imaginary sense you envisage him not receiving a call from even the Bollywood star, Shahrukh Khan. But he could very well turn out to be the first person to call one of his close friends and wish him on his birthday. That is ‘Captain Cool’ MS Dhoni for you. As Dhoni celebrates his 43rd birthday, rest assured, his cult status will never dim out.