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div id=”pcl-full-content”>The IPL 2024 opener between Chennai Super Kings and Royal Challengers Bengaluru had not even begun, but Rishabh Malakar’s jaws were already aching. “I have posed for a thousand selfies,” the software engineer from Indore says, sweat dripping from his forehead, his yellow jersey blazing. The reason for his fame hits you without saying. He bears an uncanny resemblance with MS Dhoni. He spots long hair like Dhoni does these says. He has nurtured a stubble, “with much care,” he emphasises.

He was not a Dhoni superfan to begin with. But when he was in class nine, someone in the neighbourhood called him MS Dhoni and told him he resembles him. He would he first of the many and his fanfare just swelled. “Just a random guy in the street called me Dhoni and it just stuck. Then a lot of people then began to call me. Initially I thought they were making fun of me. Then I realised I resemble him from certain angles. Then I became a Dhoni fan,” he says.

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MS Dhoni steps down as CSK’s captain ahead of IPL 2024

How Malakar tried to become Dhoni

He has done his bit to accentuate the resemblance. Like he aped his walking style, measured and laidback steps; he began to smile like him too, he had to put on some weight to match Dhoni’s frame too.

He would soon become a social media celeb with nearly 1.5 million followers. “It all began when a friend suggested that I should post my picture alongside with his picture. I was so reluctant, but my friend made and I suddenly I became famous,” he says, though fame meant he had to keep producing content.

One of the videos was he imitating the trademark helicopter shot. In another he imitates the stumping without the follow-through. He had nursed cricketing dreams, but forsook it for academics. “Somehow cricket pulled me back,” he says. Back home, he is something of a local celebrity, and people would stop him on the road to take a picture with him.

Festive offer

Now he wants to take a picture with his idol. “It’s difficult I know. But I will keep trying and one day he would spot me. I don’t want to miss a single game of his because this could be his last season,” he says.

Just then, a couple of policemen politely ask for a selfie and his jaws begin to ache again.



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