Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Monday (2nd March) received a rousing reception at the the M A Chidambaram Stadium during his first training session with Chennai Super Kings ahead of his much-anticipated return to action in the Indian Premier League (IPL).
Dhoni returned to training amid never-ending speculation on his career, which has been on hold since last year''s ODI World Cup.
Chants of "Dhoni, Dhoni...." were heard as he entered the M A Chidambaram Stadium and he obliged his fans with some big hits during the net session.
A few hundred fans gathered to watch the CSK players as they began practice for the forthcoming IPL, which begins on March 29.
The talismanic 38-year-old wicket-keeper batsman, who led India to two world titles, got down to work with some other team members. CSK's full camp will begin on March 19.
After jogging around for a while and doing some stretching, Dhoni put on his pads and launched a few big hits in his trademark style.
Dhoni has not played since the World Cup semifinal loss to New Zealand last year and has maintained a stoic silence on what his next move would be. He was dropped from the BCCI's list of centrally contracted players in January.
Among other CSK players who were part of the training on Monday were Ambati Rayudu, Murali Vijay, new recruit Piyush Chawla, Karn Sharma and local boys R Sai Kishore and N Jagadeesan.
This year's IPL begins with CSK taking on defending champions Mumbai Indians in Mumbai on March 29.
The three-time IPL champions had picked up veteran leggie Chawla, Australian pacer Josh Hazelwood, England all-rounder Sam Curran and left-arm spinner R Sai Kishore during the players' auction held in December last year.