Top-ranked Indian men's singles shuttler Kidambi Srikanth received a surprise gift from MS Dhoni on Saturday, May 19.
A signed cricket bat of the World Cup-winning Indian captain was delivered to the 25-year-old shuttler at the Pullela Gopichand Academy in Hyderabad by MSK Prasad, the chairman of Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI) senior selection committee.
Srikanth, Prasad reveals, is a big fan of Dhoni and that the shuttler had requested him to help get a gift from the Ranchi hero, who is one of the most celebrated cricketers of all-time.
Prasad, who idolised Srikanth's father, KVS Krishna, though had a condition for Srikanth: The shuttler had to reach the "top level" in badminton in order to get the gift from Dhoni.
@BCCI chief selector MSK Prasad presented an autographed bat from @msdhoni to world No.1 shuttler @srikidambi , who is a big fan of MSD & had requested MSK for a "gift" from the cricket icon... @srikidambi a hands-down winner here! pic.twitter.com/XMBDCxAUZD— Lokendra Pratap Sahi (@lpsahi) May 19, 2018
Srikanth kept his word and so did Prasad. The Guntur-born shuttler became the first Indian men's player to reach the top of Badminton World Federation (BWF) rankings in April 2018.
"One day, he [Srikanth] had asked if he could get a gift from Dhoni. I told him if he can reach the top level in badminton, then he will get his gift," Prasad was quoted as saying by The Times of India.
"Meanwhile, I spoke about Srikanth's wish to MSD [Dhoni]. He was more than happy to hear this and he told me he himself is a badminton player and follows Indian badminton very closely."
"Srikanth is the son of my childhood idol from Guntur who introduced me to cricket - Kittu uncle (KVS Krishna). Srikanth is a big fan of Dhoni.
"Dhoni then sent a personally autographed bat to my house as a gift for Srikanth. Yesterday, I went to the Pullela Gopichand badminton academy (in Hyderabad) and surprised him with Dhoni's gift - it was due to Srikanth as he had kept his word by becoming the World No. 1 badminton player."
Srikanth thanks Dhoni for 'wonderful gift'
Meanwhile, Srikanth took to Twitter on Sunday, May 20 to thank Dhoni. He uploaded a photo of the "special gift" along with the tweet.
"Thank you @msdhoni for the wonderful gift and can't tell how happy I am. This just made my day (sic)," the shuttler wrote as the caption.
Srikanth has been one of the most consistent shuttlers in the men's singles circuit over the last 14 months. He became only the fourth shuttler after Olympic medalists Lin Dan, Chen Long and Lee Chong Wei to win four or more Superseries titles in a calendar year when he achieved the feat last year.
Having already won a silver medal at the Commonwealth Games, Srikanth is gearing up for the upcoming Asiad, starting August 18 in Jakarta. The lanky shuttler has not travelled with the men's team for the ongoing Thomas Cup in Bangkok.