Deepak Singh and wife Shivani with the gloves from Mahi in Jamshedpur on Tuesday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
The ODI at the JSCA International Stadium Complex in Ranchi on Saturday will bring back memories — fond and otherwise — for ardent cricket enthusiast Deepak Singh.
The 52-year-old businessman from Jamshedpur’s Sonari had watched the last India-England match at Keenan Stadium on April 12, 2006. The home team had then lost by five wickets. This time, he is keeping his fingers crossed — and his legs upright — for the debut ODI in the state capital.
“Love often brews superstitions. And I am no different when it comes to my first love — cricket. I keep standing as long as I am in the stadium. Believe it or not, our boys (Team India) have won several times like this,” Singh, who owns a highway hotel, said.
He will reach Ranchi a day before the match, wife in tow. As a busy homemaker, the 48-year-old Shivani Singh may not understand the nitty-gritty of the game, but nonetheless loves to cheer India. “Unlike me, she likes to sit and enjoy the match,” Singh chuckled.
The couple plan to stay at a relative’s place.
“I have watched all the 10 matches at Keenan. The only happy moment was in 2000 when India beat South Africa by six wickets. Incidentally, the last match at Keenan had the same opponent (England) as now. I had even found a golden chance to talk to Andrew Flintoff. I just have to go. It is like déjà vu. There can be no second thoughts. My children — Vineet and Amrita — love cricket too. But they work in Mysore and Bangalore, respectively. Had they been here, they would have come along for sure,” Singh said.
So, will a new stadium and a new city Team India break their Keenan jinx?
“It has been a great loss for the steel city. In remember crazy cricket days, when fans made serpentine lines outside the stadium here for tickets. Today, it lies abandoned and almost uncared for. I hope our boys win in Ranchi,” he said.
Besides a gallery of memories, Singh has a pair of signed gloves from skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni to covet. Recalling the times when Dhoni used to practise at Keenan, he said: “The gloves were a gift from Mahi after he had just made it to Team India.”
Given a chance, Singh would like to take an autograph from Yuvraj Singh. “He has lot of inner strength I believe. How else does one battle and win against a fatal disease.”