Kolkata: Never the one to walk the beaten path, former India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has decided not to do any commercial endorsements amid the COVID-19 pandemic and is instead busy with organic farming, gearing up to launch his own brand of environment-friendly fertilisers soon.
The World Cup-winning swashbuckler, on a sabbatical from cricket for the past one year, turned 39 on Tuesday.
His manager and childhood friend Mihir Diwakar, while speaking to PTI, gave a peek into the trailblazer's reclusive life at his home in Ranchi.
"Patriotism is in his blood, be it serving for the country (in defence) or (farming) the land, he's very passionate about it. He has about 40-50 acres of farmland and he is busy growing organic crops like papaya, banana there," Diwakar said.
"He has stopped brand endorsements and has said that till life comes to normal, he won't do any commercial activity," Diwakar, who runs the MS Dhoni Cricket Academy under the name of Aarka Sports, added.
The wicketkeeper-batsman was expected to be back in action at the IPL but that has been postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He was recently seen driving a tractor during the lockdown. Diwakar said they are soon going to launch their organic fertiliser under their company's name Neo Global. He said the fertiliser is being tested at Dhoni's farm.
Dhoni recently spoke about the harmful impact of pesticides in a video to promote organic farming.
"We have a team of experts and scientists and they have developed the fertiliser and it should be launched within two-three months," Diwakar said.
"I spoke to him past midnight. It was a normal business talk. As usual, Dhoni would be at home with his family, with a quiet birthday celebration."
Asked whether retirement has crossed Dhoni's mind, Diwakar said: "Being friends, we don't talk about his cricket. But looking at him, he's not all thinking about retirement."
"He is very determined to play the IPL. He has worked really hard for this. If you remember he was there in Chennai one month in advance before everything was shut down," he pointed out.
"He has maintained his fitness regimen at his farmhouse and will start practice after the lockdown is lifted. Everything now depends on how fast the situation returns to normalcy," he concluded.
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