Melbourne: Call it by fate or by design, Mahendra Singh Dhoni probably shares a different kind of bonding with the Melbourne Cricket Ground as it was again evident today, a day before India's second group league encounter against South Africa in the ICC Cricket World Cup.
Exactly 52 days back, Dhoni had stunned the cricket world by announcing his immediate retirement from Tests after a knock of 24, which ensured a draw in that third Test match.
Just like Sunil Gavaskar's connection with the Chinnaswamy Stadium and Sachin Tendulkar's with Wankhede, Dhoni wouldn't be able to forget MCG, where he wore the white flannels one last time.
Today, away from the public glare, long after his team's training session and media activities were over, Dhoni was seen slowly walking towards the centre strip to inspect it and probably do some mental calculations before tomorrow's big game.
It was at least an hour after the Indian team had finished their nets in the adjoining area outside the MCG.
Even Virat Kohli had left after finishing his customary pre-match press conference.
The fans were standing outside as the stadium as the Kohlis, Rahanes and the Jadejas were leaving the venue after a hard session.
Understandably, there wasn't a single soul around the confines of the dressing room or gallery, when a figure emerged from the dressing room.
Those were ultra slow steps, not the Dhoni, who would walk in with a sense of purpose whenever he is wearing the blue jersey.
It looked like an early morning walk although the sun was beating down at 35 degree Celsius.
Dhoni first walked down keenly monitoring the 22-yard strip. It was a bald pitch devoid of any grass.
Bending down, the skipper started checking the hardness of the strip. He pressed it hard enough with his two hands. No one was disturbing him, neither did he care about anything else. He just kept on staring.
Was he thinking about the areas that Morne Morkel and Dale Steyn would hit tomorrow or was he trying to find out whether there's enough in it for Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin to perform a trick or two? No one knows.
Just like it would not be known whether his own patchy form forced him to do some shadows after taking an imaginary stance on one side of the pitch. He was doing shadow of trying to play straight.