Afghan MS 'Dhoni' lays claim to helicopter shot too

Mohammad Shahzad

Mohammad Shahzad, MS in short, acquired that nickname in the Afghanistan dressing room not just for the obviousness of his initials, but also because he is a wicketkeeper and enjoys playing the helicopter shot. Just like another wicketkeeping batsman with an affinity for those helicopter chopping hits — MS Dhoni.

MS and MS will of course meet during the opening Group A match on September 19, but only one of them has promised to go big on the hits — the Afghanistan one. Having grown up idolising Dhoni, Shahzad hopes that his strokes not only dash the spirits of the Indians, but also impress the man.

"I am Dhoni's biggest fan, and I love the way he bats. I try and copy the shots that he plays and have practiced the helicopter shot at the nets," Shahzad says. At first, apparently, it wasn't easy to dig a blockhole ball out, let alone hammer it for a six. "I was missing everything, it's a very difficult shot to play. But I kept persisting till the time I mastered the shot. Inshallah, you will see me hitting the helicopter shot in the match against India. And hopefully Dhoni will like it too."

Dhoni's approval is of paramount importance, as the man truly is a die-hard fan. Having first watched him during the 2007 World T20, Shahzad was mesmerized — copying his batting and wicketkeeping style. The obsession then increased, as he now boasts of a full collection of the Indian captain's greatest knocks. "My team mates often say that the only thing that I did not copy from Dhoni was his hairstyle," he says, a little embarrassed.

"Hamari thodi bahut dosti bhi ho gayi hai. Dhoni is not just a great player, but he's a great human being also. He took time to speak to me after the awards ceremony," says the Afghani. "He was keen to know our story, of how we had come up from Division Five to this elite stage and the situation back home."

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