In 2016, Mahendra Singh Dhoni said he feels "very different" to play for a team other than Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the Indian Premier League (IPL). Dhoni was bought Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) after CSK and Rajasthan Royals (RR) were suspended for two years due to corruption.
Now, after two years, it is a homecoming for 36-year-old Dhoni. CSK have returned and they have retained their leader ahead of this year's IPL.
"If you want me to be politically correct, that is not how I am. After eight years of IPL, it feels very different to play for any other team. All of a sudden if you want me to say that I am very excited to play for a new team, don't give credit to CSK and the fans for the love and affection they have given us, it will be wrong," Dhoni had said in February 2016.
Dhoni and CSK have a special bond. He took them to two IPL titles and same number Champions League Twenty20 (CLT20) trophies. The fans in Chennai love the wicketkeeper-batsman from Ranchi. And the love affair will restart in IPL 11. He is populary known as "Thala" (leader) in Chennai.
Today (January 19), Dhoni paid rich tributes to CSK fans and the city Chennai calling it a "special place". The former India captain revealed he was approached by other teams but he had made up his mind to return to CSK.
"A lot of people approached me, I can tell you that. But I can't think not coming back to CSK," Dhoni said at a CSK event in Chennai on Friday.
He continued, "It is because of everything. What we have been through, how we have conducted ourselves, how the management has been, how the players have been, how the fans have been. I always keep saying it (Chennai) is like a second home to me. The fans over here have literally adopted me. They accept me as one of their own. There can't be any bigger compliment than that.
"Yes we have got fans everywhere. At the same time I would say wherever I go whether I am batting, bowling or fielding or doing anything, I get the appreciation, I get the love. But this is a special place. That thought of being with any other franchisee was never a question."
Ahead of this year's players auction in Bengaluru on January 27 and 28, CSK have retained Dhoni, Suresh Raina and Ravindra Jadeja.