“Kya lagta hai Dhoni chalega (Will Dhoni click)?” a college-goer at Morabadi grounds asks his friend busy trying to manage passes for the January 19 ODI at International Cricket Stadium Complex.
“He’s playing across the line, is that okay?” the student persists, given the mixed run Mahi has had lately.
ODI fever has clean bowled politics on conversation pitch. The bat-ball-wicket trinity also has some stick company — a Hockey India League match between Ranchi and Mumbai is slated on January 18, a day before the ODI.
Exactly a week ago, Raj Bhavan was the epicentre of attention. Talks on coalition partners and political parties, President’s Rule versus early poll were heard in markets, offices, campuses and hangouts.
Now, Mahi and Cook have ousted Munda and Soren. In a land of all-time hockey greats like Jaipal Singh and Sylvanus Dung Dung, Ranchi Rhinos stars Moritz Furste and Birendra Lakra have also edged out political speculation.
“Kya durbhagya ki koi CM tik nahi paya abhi tak. Ab baat karna bhi bekar hai rajnetaon ke baare mein. (It’s unfortunate that no CM completed his term. It’s a waste of time talking about politicians),” Dasrath Singh, a tea stall owner at Albert Ekka Chowk, said.
He’d rather talk about the ODI. Despite his modest earnings, he bought a ticket. “Dhoni is playing an ODI in Ranchi for the first time. Ghar ka ladka,” he smiled.
The Ranchi-boy factor is a huge pull for fans to queue up at the Dhurwa stadium.
At the district transport office, Grade III and IV staffers discussed the back-to-back cricket and hockey matches.
“Sahab (deputy commissioner V.K. Choubey) ke office se ODI tickets mila to theek, nahi to hockey dekhunga. Bade bade khiladi aaenge. (If not cricket, I will go for hockey, heard big players are coming),” said staffer Sunil Kumar.
Manoj Kumar, JSCA media in-charge, confirmed on Tuesday that Governor Syed Ahmed would inaugurate the stadium with BCCI chief N. Srinivasan on January 18. Though mum on A-list Bollywood guests — Shah Rukh Khan’s name had been earlier bandied about — Kumar kept the spotlight on visiting dignitaries such as Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and cricket legends Sunil Gavaskar, Md Azharuddin, Kapil Dev and Ravi Shastri.
Do you have an anecdote to share on the ODI?