New Zealand and Chennai Super Kings (CSK) left-handed opener Devon Conway said talismanic wicketkeeper-batter MS Dhoni is very well-liked and worshipped in India, adding that the support for him is quite incredible.
Dhoni played the entire IPL 2023 season for Chennai with a left knee issue, making the fans and various cricket experts think the tournament could be the former India skipper's last appearance as a professional cricketer.
Whenever he came out to bat either at the MA Chidambaram Stadium, Chennai's home ground and in away matches, the crowd was engulfed by waves of yellow jerseys and gave him a rousing reception. Eventually, he captained Chennai to their fifth IPL title with a four-wicket victory over Gujarat Titans at the Narendra Modi Stadium in Ahmedabad.
"He (Dhoni) is very well-liked in India, he's pretty much worshipped there. To see the following and support they have for him is incredible. Every away game we had was pretty much a home game because of all the supporters travelling to support MS Dhoni. It was special -- a different world than what we're used to. I don't think he's able to do much outside the hotel due to his fame," Conway was quoted as saying by SENZ Radio.
Conway played a vital role for Chennai in winning IPL 2023, scoring six half-centuries while amassing 672 runs, being the third leading run-getter in the competition and forming a rock-solid opening pair with Ruturaj Gaikwad at the top.
The opener acknowledged the role of head coach and former New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming in leading Chennai to IPL 2023 title.
"He's got the respect of the players. The way he runs the show there, he drives a good culture, he's got a good relationship with MS and the franchise owners as well. Having his support is very important and beneficial for us as a group and individuals," Conway said.
"I was pretty happy to be given the opportunity to open the batting throughout the season and be backed by Stephen Fleming and the captain MS Dhoni. It was a proud opportunity for me to grow my game and express myself in the IPL," he added.
Asked on how much his T20 game has grown in the last few years, Conway explained, "Every T20 game's got different scenarios, different situations, and how to attack those different moments of the game has been great to lean on (those) experienced guys to improve and move forward."
Playing in Chennai it was more of a spin surface, so you'd probably carry three spinners, same as Lucknow. But if you played in Bangalore or one of the Mumbai grounds, it's going to be slightly more batter friendly."