All eyes on MS Dhoni before ODI
Cricket fever gripped Mahi’s hometown here with both teams heading to JSCA greens for net practice on the eve of the 3rd and crucial ODI between India and Australia on Friday.
India leading the five-match series 2-0, the Ranchi encounter is a do-or-die for the Aussies as a loss here will cost them the series. But, Dhoni’s hometown obviously wants a stellar knock from their boy and a definitive win for India.
Dhoni has already won hearts with his humility. He declined to inaugurate the pavilion named after him at the JSCA stadium, the association secretary Debashis Chakraborty told PTI on Wednesday. “We requested him but he said, Dada apne hi ghar mein kya inaugurate karna (What’s there to inaugurate in my own house). He is still so humble and down to earth,” Chakraborty said.
Twitter on Thursday was full of Dhoni, as skipper Virat Kohli and spinner Yuzvendra Chahal thanked him for a lavish dinner on Wednesday.
No wonder, it was Dhoni, Dhoni, Dhoni all the way as the former India skipper arrived with team mates Kedar Jadhav, K.L. Rahul, Yuzvendra Chahal, Shikhar Dhawan and Bhuvneshwar Kumar and head coach Ravi Shastri for the nets at the JSCA International Stadium on Thursday morning. Virat and some others stayed at the hotel.
At 9.30am, when Dhoni, Shastri and the rest of the boys arrived at the JSCA stadium, scores of fans from all strata, many waving the Indian Tricolour, were ecstatic. Many were waiting from 8am or earlier.
“I am here for apna Dhoni, hope he scores a ton tomorrow (Friday),” said Doranda hotelier Saket Singh. Sunita Jha of Dhurwa rued she did not get an ODI ticket and so had come to the stadium to get a glimpse of “the man who made Ranchi world famous”. Pritam Pal, a betel shop owner and a keen cricket buff, pointed out this India-Australia series was crucial before the ICC World Cup. “I am praying Dhoni makes his bat talk here.”
The Indians practised in the nets till noon, a hawk-eyed Shastri watching their moves. Shastri and Dhoni also inspected the pitch.
The Australians and their support staff trooped for net practice at 2pm and stayed for two hours. Skipper Aaron Finch walked on the greens barefoot and inspected the pitch. Despite the pressure, the Aussies seemed relaxed.
Between noon and 2pm, Team India pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Australia’s off-spinner Nathan Lyon held pre-match news meets. Kumar said, “Yes, India has benefited from Dhoni’s form.” Asked about Ranchi’s weather, he quipped, “Best for cricket. IPL will be hot.” On if the Ranchi match on Friday could be Dhoni’s last, Kumar shot back: “Who says it is Dhoni’s last match here?”
Lyon said his team had the confidence to clinch the series. “Our communication is very good. We have the self-belief to win the three matches. India is a young side with superstars like Virat and Dhoni. (Bowler) Jasprit Bumrah is an exceptional cricketer. He’s an exciting young player,” Lyons said.
JSCA is hosting an event to commemorate International Women’s Day, Friday March 8, that coincides with the ODI. Diana Edulji, former Indian women’s cricket captain, will be present on the occasion.