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Skipper Dhoni’s day out with the Jharkhand Jaguars

Ranchi, Nov. 25: For the 200-odd men in khaki stationed at the Jharkhand Jaguars headquarters in Dhurwa, the morning brought some amazing news — Team India skipper and local boy Mahendra Singh Dhoni was on his way to visit them.

The jawans, specially trained to fight Maoist rebels in the remote corners of the state, were beside themselves with excitement as they rushed to welcome their very special guest.

At 11.30am, Dhoni reached Dhurwa and for the next one-and-a-half hours, he bonded with the jawans over a question-answer session, old Hindi film songs and aloo chop, palak pakoda and rasogollas from the camp mess.

The curious jawans lobbed one question after another at the cricket star, and he answered each candidly, much to the glee of the hosts.

“When we asked him why he had not brought his wife along, Dhoni promised to come with her the next time,” said Asit Kumar Sen, a member of bomb disposal squad of the force.

As most of the questions centred around cricket, Dhoni told the jawans that he considered Mohali and Eden Gardens as the best stadiums in the world.

When one of the jawans wanted to know why he could not become a cricket star despite practising for hours, a sympathetic skipper admitted that there was no alternative to hard labour. He also accepted that his game had become slower ever since he took over the captain’s mantle, but it was all a part of strategy.

Jawan P.S. Mukherjee said Dhoni named Sachin Tendulkar and Zahir Khan as his favourite players. And when it came to music, the captain was a huge fan of Kishore Kumar, Mukesh and Lata Mangeshkar.

And to show exactly how big a fan he was, Dhoni actually sang Mukesh’s evergreen hit ‘Main pal do pal ka shayar hoon’ from the film Kabhi Kabhi.

Not to be outdone, the jawans joined in with Kishore Kumar’s ‘Mere saamne wali khidki mein’ from the film Padosan.

Dhoni praised the jawans for their dedication in fighting extremists in the state, and admired the firearms the men showed him.

Long after the skipper left the camp in the afternoon, the remnants of the morning’s excitement remained.

The elated jawans confessed that Dhoni’s visit had done wonders for their morale. “We remain away from our families and fight for days in deep jungles. This was a wonderful way to de-stress,” said one.

Superintendent of police, Jharkhand Jaguar, Deo Bihari Sharma said the jawans enjoyed the interactive session with the star. “The visit helped boost their morale. Most of the questions the jawans asked were related to cricket and Dhoni replied in a balanced way,” he said.

Dhoni refused to talk to reporters while leaving Dhurwa.

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