Dhoni’s close friend, Santosh Lal, passes away

Indian captain MS Dhoni’s close friend and former Ranji teammate Santosh Lal, ‘inventor’ of the famous helicopter shot, passed away on Tuesday while undergoing treatment for pancreatitis at a hospital in Delhi.

He is survived by his parents, wife and three-year-old daughter. He was 32.

According to a report in the Indian Express, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is holidaying in New York but the Indian skipper kept a close tab on the progress of his ailing childhood friend.

Dhoni's friend Santosh Lala was the one who taught him the helicopter shot. Reuters

Dhoni's friend Santosh Lala was the one who taught him the helicopter shot. Reuters

Even after Dhoni attained super-stardom, he remained friends with Santosh aka Bunty -- the man who taught him how to play the helicopter shot.

Over the years, Dhoni may have made the helicopter shot his own. But it was Bunty who mastered the shot while playing tennis-ball cricket.

Nishant Dayal, another longtime friend of Lal, told Indian Express that it was Lal who helped the Indian captain master his trademark shot.

"Dhoni always admired his batting style. Santosh was renowned for his helicopter shot in tennis-ball cricket and could hit a yorker over the deep square-leg fence. He was the one who taught Mahi that shot," he said.

Mahi and Bunty first became friends while representing Jharkhand at the U-19 level. They got along famously and were serial pranksters.

With inputs from PTI