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The tragic story of Santosh Lal – MS Dhoni’s friend and the inventor of the helicopter shot

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Santosh Lal passed away at the age of 32 from acute pancreatitis.

Santosh Lal, MS Dhoni
Santosh Lal and MS Dhoni     Photo credit: India Today

World Cup winning captain. Finisher. Captain Cool. There are many things that Mahendra Singh Dhoni is renowned for, but arguably the most recognisable aspect of MS Dhoni’s batting is his “Helicopter Shot”. However, the fact that Dhoni is not the inventor of the shot is not something that everyone knows.

In his biopic “MS Dhoni: The Untold Story”, it is revealed that the man behind the shot was Dhoni’s childhood friend Santosh Lal, who sadly passed away three years ago. While the shot might be synonymous with the Indian captain, it was something that he learnt from his friend, who called it the “Thappad Shot”, in exchange for some samosas.

Also Read: MS Dhoni: The Untold Story – Movie Review

Fame might have taken Dhoni away from his childhood friend but the Indian captain still kept in touch with Santosh as the pair spent time together with the Jharkhand Ranji team. They were friends all through Dhoni’s meteoric rise to captaincy until Santosh’s death at the age of 32 in July 2013. Even during Santosh’s final stages, Dhoni did everything he could to ensure his friend’s survival.

When Dhoni sent a helicopter

Santosh was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis and required urgent medical care. Although Dhoni was away on tour with the Indian team, when he was made aware of his friend’s condition, he arranged for an air ambulance to transport Santosh from Ranchi to Delhi in order to get better treatment. Unfortunately, bad weather meant that the helicopter landed at Varanasi before reaching Delhi and when it eventually did, it was too late.

The pair were friends from a young age; they played plenty of tennis ball cricket together and also travelled aross Jharkhand to play cricket. Nishant Dayal, a long-time friend of Santosh, told the Indian Express three years back that Dhoni and Santosh were “best of friends since childhood”, and that the Indian captain admired Santosh’s batting style.

Dayal said: “He and Dhoni would play tennis ball games endlessly. They both worked for Railways. Santosh was fearless as a batsman. Over the years, Dhoni may have patented the ‘helicopter shot’ but growing up, there was someone who was better at it. Dhoni always admired his batting style. And Santosh taught him to play the helicopter shot.”

Also Read: 5 things that we expected to see in MS Dhoni: The Untold Story

That is just one of the many interesting aspects of MS Dhoni’s life that is revealed in his biopic, “MS Dhoni: The Untold Story” which hit the theatres on September 30 across the world. While the movie does portray several aspects of Dhoni’s life that not many knew about before, it also gave the truth about the inventor of the helicopter shot, for which Indian cricket fans will forever be indebted to the late Santosh Lal.


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