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Pad up to break jinx

The JSCA International Stadium Complex in Dhurwa, Ranchi, must be wondering whether it can do what Keenan Stadium in Jamshedpur couldn’t twice earlier — wrest an ODI win for the boys in blue against Team England.

Keenan has seen generations of greats — from Clive Lloyd to Imran Khan to Sachin Tendulkar — in the 23 years between 1983 and 2006 when it hosted as many as 10 ODIs. But, it has also seen only one India victory.

Apart from the masterpiece victory of Sourav Ganguly and team against South Africa on March 12, 2000, India has never posted a win at Keenan — be it against Pakistan, New Zealand, Australia, West Indies or England.

England had come to play in Keenan twice — in 1993 for the Charms Cup and in 2006, in the England in India (2005-06) series. In both, Team India crumbled badly.

Dubbed the Keenan jinx, the spate of bad luck had affected the beloved greens as well as the psyche of cricket fans of Jharkhand and Bihar.

It puts pressure on the newbie JSCA International Stadium Complex in Ranchi to be a lucky venue for India in the ODI — third in this series and in the state — on Saturday against a strong England side.

Hopes are up as Dhoni’s boys thrashed Alastair Cook’s team in the 2nd ODI in Kochi on Tuesday, levelling the series 1-1. Cricket buffs in Jharkhand are hoping — almost with horseshoes and charms — that the Ranchi venue is lucky.

“Some cricket stadiums get the tag of being a losing ground for the host country. Keenan was one. But I think a new venue may bring luck to the Indians,” Sushant Das (68), who has watched all 10 ODIs held in Jamshedpur, said.

Like all cricket-crazy fans, he thinks performance and luck make a winning equation.

“We’ll bury the ghost of bad luck in Ranchi. Dhoni’s home ground will prove lucky,” Das said.

It is a sentiment sweeping across generations. “I heard India has won just one match at Keenan. A new address can help our cause. I’m sure India will win in Ranchi,” said Pritam Singh, Jamshedpur Co-operative College student.

“Agreed India’s ODI record in Jamshedpur has been awful, but Ranchi can turn the tide in India’s favour. It will be wonderful to watch India register an emphatic win,” said JSCA vice-president B.N. Singh.

“Forget the Keenan jinx. Ranchi is a different city and a new cricket venue for the ODI. India is winning in Ranchi. Take it from me,” said a confident Surender Singh, tennis coach and JSCA member.

The magic of the millennial Keenan win — the Ganguly ton and the surprise six-wicket haul by left-arm tweaker Sunil Joshi — will linger. But right now, it’s time for Ranchi to pad up for a lucky start.


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