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regular-article-logo Saturday, 13 April 2024

The wait for MS, an ageless Ranchi ritual: Even if he is physically not present, Dhoni is omnipresent

The former India captain, in fact, had a very significant role to play in bringing Ranchi on the map of international cricket

Sayak Banerjee Ranchi Published 23.02.24, 07:31 AM
Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Mahendra Singh Dhoni PTI

“What about Dhoni? Is Dhoni here?”

Questions such as these on Mahendra Singh Dhoni are obvious whenever there’s international cricket at the JSCA International Stadium. And that’s regardless of
the format.

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No doubt, Dhoni and his hometown Ranchi are synonymous with each other.
The former India captain, in fact, had a very significant role to play in bringing Ranchi on the map of international cricket.

The memories from January 19, 2013, when Ranchi hosted its first-ever international game between India, who were led by the city’s favourite son, and England are still fresh in the minds
of many.

Dhoni didn’t feature in any of Team India’s games here after the ODI against Australia on March 8, 2019, before announcing his retirement from international cricket the following year in August. Yet, he’s one of the most-talked-about names when the venue hosts the Indian team. That’s the aura of Dhoni, he is present even in his absence.

When Ranchi hosted its very first Test seven years ago with the Virat Kohli-led India taking on Steve Smith and Co., Dhoni was present on one of the five days of action, seated in the stadium’s VIP box. Two years later, in the venue’s second Test too, he had taken time out one day to watch India dominate South Africa.

Will he be around this time around when Rohit Sharma and his teammates will be gunning for a series win against England’s Bazballers in the fourth Test beginning on Friday? “No, he’s unlikely to be present this time,” said one of the JSCA (Jharkhand State Cricket
Association) officials on Thursday.

“When it’s about MS Dhoni, you never know. He might just turn up one day since the Indian team is playing at his hometown,” another JSCA official said.

The Chennai Super Kings captain spent quite some time at the stadium as part of his preparation for this year’s IPL. “For two-three weeks or so, MS had trained in our indoor facilities and used to be present here till seven, half-past seven in the evening.

“He left Ranchi earlier this month, most probably on February 10. We expect him to be here again in the first week of March,” a JSCA office-bearer said.

Not just for fans, Dhoni’s still the shining star for some in the current Indian team too. Take the case of 23-year-old Dhruv Jurel for example. “My dream is to meet
Mahibhai, especially after after an international game. Whenever I have spoken to him, I have always learnt something new. So, I hope I get a chance to meet him during this fourth Test,” the keeper-batter said in a video posted by BCCI.

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