Indian World Cup-winning skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has begun his two-month training with the Indian Army's Parachute Regiment. He joined the regiment headquarters in Bengaluru on Wednesday and will join his battalion (106 Para TA battalion) in the Kashmir Valley. The 38-year-old cricketer will serve in his unit in the Valley from July 31 to August 15 and will be on patrolling and guard duties.
The veteran cricketer made himself unavailable for the West Indies tour as he wanted to serve the Indian Army. As per an IANS report, Dhoni wanted to go and spend time with his regiment for a long time and this plan was there in the pipeline. But it could not be implemented because of his cricketing commitments.
"Just like Dhoni has been one of the greatest servants of Indian cricket, his love for the armed forces is also well-known. This idea that he would go and spend time with his regiment was in the pipeline for a while but it took a backseat due to his cricketing commitments," a source told IANS.
"This will also help increase awareness among the youth about the armed forces and that is what Dhoni wants," the source added.
The Indian wicket-keeper batsman was accorded the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army unit of the Parachute Regiment in 2011 by the Indian Army. Abhinav Bindra and Deepak Rao were also given the honour along with him.
Dhoni became a qualified paratrooper after completing five successful parachute jumps from the army aircraft at the Agra training camp in 2015.
In the recently concluded ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, India was defeated by New Zealand in the semi-finals. Dhoni's performance as a finisher throughout the tournament was criticised by cricket fans all over the world as they claimed that he was batting at a slow pace which cost India a lot. Speculations of his retirement started spreading as the ageing cricketer made himself unavailable for two months. But according to the latest reports, Dhoni is not retiring at this moment but will be a part of the squad as a second-choice wicket-keeper and will groom the youngster Rishabh Pant.