Former India cricket team captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and multiple world-champion cueist Pankaj Advani received the country’s third highest civilian award, Padma Bhushan, from President Ram Nath Kovind at the Rashtrapati Bhavan on Monday.
Dhoni, who came to the ceremony in his Lieutenant Colonel uniform, walked like an army personnel when his name was called upon to receive the award. The Indian Territorial Army had conferred the honorary rank of Lieutenant Colonel to Dhoni on November 1, 2011, months after India won their second World Cup under his leadership. The 37-year-old Dhoni is the second Indian cricketer after Kapil Dev to receive this honour.
Incidentally, Dhoni is receiving the prestigious award exactly seven years since lifting the ICC Cricket World Cup as India skipper in Mumbai on April 2, 2011. On this day seven years ago, India ended a 28-year World Cup drought by winning their second title in front of a manic home crowd at the Wankhede Stadium.
Dhoni has been the recipient of many awards, including the ICC ODI Player of the Year award in 2008 and 2009 (the first player to win the award twice), the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award in 2007 and the Padma Shri, India’s fourth highest civilian honour in 2009.
Just like Dhoni, Advani, 2018 TOISA Snooker/Billiards Player of the Year, also has a distinguished career, having won gold twice in Asian Games in 2006 Doha and 2010 Guangzhou. He is also a multiple world champion.
Besides the duo, ace men’s singles shuttler Kidambi Srikanth, former Asian Games gold medallist tennis player Somdev Devvarman, 2017 World Weightlifting champion in the 48kg category, Saikhom Mirabai Chanu, and India’s first Paralympic gold medallist, Murlikant Petkar were conferred the Padma Shri – fourth-highest civilian award – this year.
Three of them, except Mirabai, had received their awards from the President in a ceremony on March 21, while the weightlifter is in Gold Coast, Australia to participate in the upcoming Commonwealth Games.