MUMBAI (TIP): In what was a surprise move that left the pack of media assembled in the basement of the Wankhede Stadium stunned and clamouring to take photos with their smartphones, MS Dhoni responded to a question from an Australian journalist by inviting him to sit next to him on the dais.
The question asked by Samuel Ferris of cricket.com.au was about whether after the Indian team’s exit from the ICC World Twenty20 semi-finals, Dhoni, at 34, was keen to play on. At first Dhoni responded by asking Ferris to repeat the question, and when he did, the following played out.
“Come here, let’s have some fun,” said Dhoni, beckoning to Ferris to join him. Ferris blinked and looked taken aback. Dhoni pushed aside one of the chairs next to him and said: “I am serious, come here.”
A somewhat sheepish Ferris got up and joined Dhoni as cameras clicked. This was unprecedented in any media briefing for cricketers. That it was the captain of India calling a journalist out of the crowd made it all the more incredulous.
The Australian sat down and Dhoni put an arm around him. “Do you want me to retire?”
“Not that I want. That’s what I want to ask you,” replied Ferris.
“I was hoping it was an Indian media guy because I can’t really ask you if you have a son or a brother who is a wicketkeeper. Do you think I am unfit, looking at my running?” asked Dhoni as giggles rippled around the room.
“No. You’re very fast.”
“Do you think I can survive till the 2019 World Cup?”
“You should, yes, sure.”
“Then you have answered the question.” With that, Dhoni patted Ferris’ back and the Australian got up and walked back to his seat.
Dhoni wasn’t finished, though.
“I wish it was an Indian media person,” he added, clearly in reference to the number of times his place has been questioned after a defeats and the times journalists have asked him questions about his future. “Then I would have asked if he has a son who is a wicketkeeper and ready to play. He would have said no, then I would have said maybe a brother who is a wicketkeeper and who is ready to play. You fired the right ammunition at the wrong time.”
It is a moment that will find plenty of airplay over the next 24 hours, and countless viewing, no doubt, on YouTube. As for Twitter, well you can bet Dhoni’s brief chat with Ferris is going to kick up a lot of laughs.