Courtesy MSK, 'fan' Srikanth gets a bat from MSD
Calcutta: Mahendra Singh Dhoni has a huge list of admirers, ranging from the common man to cricketing greats. It seems there are Dhoni fans among champions in other sporting disciplines as well.
Kidambi Srikanth, the badminton ace, is one of them. And that has been revealed by MSK Prasad, who heads the Board of Control for Cricket in India's senior selection panel.
Prasad, a former India wicketkeeper himself, in fact has a nice story to tell.
According to a communication to The Telegraph from Prasad, Srikanth is a "big fan" of the former India captain.
Both Prasad and Srikanth are from Andhra Pradesh. Prasad has immense respect for Srikanth's father - KVS Krishna - whom he addresses as "Kittu uncle". According to Prasad, Krishna was the man who introduced him to cricket.
Srikanth had requested Prasad for a "gift" from Dhoni. The 43-year-old former cricketer promised him one if he could reach the top in badminton.
Srikanth, currently the world No.4, had attained the top spot in BWF rankings last month, after a superb run of form which included four Super Series titles.
Prasad had already told Dhoni about Srikanth's wish and India's 2011 World Cup-winning captain was only too happy to hear that the shuttler is his fan.
Dhoni sent an autographed bat for Srikanth, which Prasad handed over to the shuttler.
"...Srikanth is the son of my childhood ideal from Guntur, Kittu uncle, who introduced me to cricket. Srikanth is a big fan of MS Dhoni.
"One day he asked me for a gift from Dhoni. I told him that if he can reach the top in badminton, then he will get his gift. Meanwhile, I had spoken to MSD about Srikanth's wish. He was more than happy to hear that and he told me that he himself is a badminton player and follows Indian badminton very closely.
"MSD sent a personally signed bat to my house as a gift for Srikanth. I went all the way to the Pullela Gopichand Badminton Academy and surprised Srikanth with MSD's gift... He was thrilled and excited."
It is no secret that Dhoni loves playing badminton to keep himself fit. According to a report in a sports website, Dhoni visits the badminton courts of his school - Jawahar Vidya Mandir in Shayamali, Ranchi - whenever he finds time.
As far as Srikanth is concerned, he has his target set. "I want to continue doing well in the Asian Games and the World Championships... That is my priority. All the accolades that I'm receiving are because of my game, so I'd want win more medals for the country and that's my sole focus."