What’s next for Dhoni? Take a shot

International shooter Shimon Sharif says he has reasons to believe M. S. Dhoni, following his retirement, might switch gears to try his hand at sports shooting.

"It will be a privilege. There is no age limit set for shooting. I won't be surprised and literally hope he takes up the sport professionally soon," said international shooter Shimon Sharif about M. S. Dhoni.   -  Ritu Raj Konwar

What's next for Mahendra Singh Dhoni? After the cricket icon announced his retirement from international duties on Saturday, his fans have been getting creative with ideas — some even imploring him to consider becoming an action hero in Tamil movies.  

International shooter Shimon Sharif, however, has a sporting take. Sharif says he has reasons to believe Dhoni, who holds the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army, might switch gears to try his hand at sports shooting. 

In 2010, a week after the Commonwealth Games, where host India finished with a rich medal haul (14 gold, 11 silver, 5 bronze) in shooting, Sharif got a ping on the official email address of indianshooting.com. "It was almost 2 a.m. and I was almost half-asleep when I got the mail," Sharif tells Sportstar.  

The first Indian to compete in the Running Target event at Hungary in 2007, Sharif, back in those days, used to double up as weapon manufacturer Walther's representative in India.

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"I glanced through the mail, without looking at the signature at the bottom, as those days, we used to get a lot of such notifications from people who had different queries regarding the procedure to import arms into the country. So, I went for the custom reply, which was asking for the sender's full name and address," says Sharif. 

The next mail in the thread didn't take long to land in Sharif’s inbox. "When I checked the reply, the full name said Mahendra Singh Dhoni and the address read Ranchi. Yes, then I knew I wasn't going to sleep anytime soon," he laughs.

Dhoni's fascination for the number seven is well established. From his vehicle license plates and jersey number to the diamond-studded pendant he got for himself after the India-Pakistan ODI series in 2006, all bear a link to the number. Incidentally, Walther has been a part of pop culture for decades, courtesy fictional British Secret Service agent James Bond, aka 007.  

Sharif didn't want to jump to conclusions. “I asked for his ID, next. This was the final confirmation. When he sent it, again in a matter of only a few minutes, I knew I was talking to the man himself. The picture on the passport had the picture of Dhoni sporting the iconic long hair." 

Sharif took the conversation to his personal mail ID. "I made sure he received special attention. He wanted to buy the 2,400-euro Carbontec rifle. He even had a lifetime membership at the National Rifle Association of India (NRAI), which is required to get rifles imported into the country," says Sharif.

READ| Dhoni, a soldier of the game and armed forces

The Walther LG300XT Carbontec, which Dhoni owns, is a high-end rifle, manufactured in Germany. Many of the parts, including the weapon's carrier system, are made of carbon, which makes it incredibly light and easy to handle. It weighs approximately 4.3kg. The rifle, which was also used by Abhinav Bindra when he struck gold at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, can carry up to 400 pellets in a cylinder, each of 0.177 calibre.


The Walther L6300XT Carbontec, which Dhoni owns, is a high-end rifle, manufactured in Germany.   -  SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT


"I informed Walther about their newest client and they were very happy about the partnership. His order was fulfilled on high-priority and the invoice was generated for October 26, 2010. It was dispatched soon after," says Sharif. 

The invoice for Dhoni's Walther L6300XT Carbontec.   -  special arrangement


The shooter was, however, disappointed that an initial plan of meeting with Dhoni, who had then just led India to a  2-0 Test series win against Australia at home, to set up his rifle, didn't work out due to the hectic tour schedules. "I was actively shooting then and MS had his matches to play, too. However, he kept texting me, asking me about the technical aspects of shooting. He soon started addressing me as bro. The captain of the national cricket team being so humble, so down-to-earth was such a huge surprise. I remember reading about him visiting some ranges later to hone his skills," says Sharif.  

Sharif, who recently hosted an online shooting league amid the coronavirus pandemic, hopes Dhoni makes his presence felt at the ranges shortly. "It will be a privilege. There is no age limit set for shooting. I won't be surprised and literally hope he takes up the sport professionally soon."

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