“Words cannot fully describe the feeling. CSK’s return after two seasons, and the news that each franchise can retain up to three players ahead of the 2018 auction. I’m waiting for our Den to come alive again,” said Shaik Zakir.
“My choice of three are MS Dhoni undoubtedly, ‘Chinna Thala’ Suresh Raina and Brendon McCullum,” added the 25-year-old from Chennai.
“Meeting Dhoni for the first time was a dream come true... an opportunity paved by his manager Arun Pandey sir after CSK won their second IPL crown by defeating RCB in the final at home in 2011,” Zakir recollected.
“I turned into a MSD fan after watching on TV his 148 against Pakistan in the Visakhapatnam ODI in 2005 and into a Superfan after he became Chennai’s adopted son in the inaugural IPL in 2008,” he added.
“I was at Chepauk for CSK’s first-ever home fixture, against MI, as a 15-year-old and thereafter became a regular at all the home games. From 2011, my childhood friend Vishnu Raaj and I also began travelling out whenever possible to watch and cheer for CSK.
“I travelled unreserved by train to Kolkata for the 2013 final against MI. I didn’t want to miss what could have been our third title. Those were difficult times. I had little money and didn’t have a place to stay in Kolkata, but the experience as a fan will remain with me forever. It was heartbreaking that we lost, but then, sport is such. One cannot always win.
“In 2014 I travelled to Mumbai to watch CSK’s Qualifier 2 against Kings XI Punjab. Unfortunately I couldn’t secure a match ticket and so I sat outside the stadium for the whole duration of the game to soak in the atmosphere.
“It was after the Mumbai trip that Pandey sir, who by then had understood that I was a big MSD fan, introduced me to CSK officials, who saw that I was a diehard fan of the Lions, and so I was thereafter given complimentary ticket to all matches.
“CSK officials also gave me a big surprise in 2015, at the conclusion of our last home game, against Rajasthan Royals, when my name was announced and I was presented with an autographed bat by Dhoni.
“I’m proud to say that I shifted my career from logistics to sports events because of my love for sports, and come summer I’ll be there cheering for CSK!” he concluded.