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Will this be MS Dhoni’s Last Dance?

Under the canopy in the upper stands of the MA Chidambaram Stadium, billowing in the sea breeze from the Marina Coast are yellow banners that pleaded: “MS, Never Leave Us”. This is the first game of Indian Premier League’s (IPL) Season 17 but some fear this could be their last.

The banner had been held by thousands of men and women in their twenties, wondering whether this would be MS Dhoni’s final season. Or worse, the last time they would see them. Seated beside them were older men, paunchy and balding, in whose minds Dhoni was still invincible. Some of them remembered how several sultry summers ago, he had struck a six into the stands to wrap up a chase, or when he punched the air after clinching the winning run. Watching him now, they were young again. It was yesterday once more. READ MORE

The Mayank Yadav story

Lucknow Super Giants' Mayank Yadav bowls a delivery during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 T20 cricket match between Lucknow Super Giants and Punjab Kings, at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Stadium, in Lucknow Lucknow Super Giants’ Mayank Yadav bowls a delivery during the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 T20 cricket match between Lucknow Super Giants and Punjab Kings, at the Bharat Ratna Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee Ekana Stadium, in Lucknow. (PTI)

Jonny Bairstow, a wrecker of pace bowling all around the world, was in for a shock on Saturday night when he shaped to pull a back-of-length delivery from the debutant Mayank Yadav as it rushed at him in a blur. It resulted in a dolly of a catch and the subsequent wickets with bouncers in a sensational spell of 3/27, that included one at 155.8 kmph, against Punjab Kings warmed the hearts of Mayank’s father Prabhu Yadav. It took him back to a pivotal moment when Mayank was 14 and when he, a fan of the West Indian pace legend Curtly Ambrose, planted a seed in his son.

Yadav sr. was returning from his factory, where they make sirens for ambulances and police vehicles, when he stopped at Sonnet Club at the Venkateshwara college in Delhi to watch Mayank bowl. On their way back home, the father would drop a nugget that would years later have repercussions in an IPL game at Lucknow’s Akana ground. READ MORE

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