What’s the story?
It’s very rare that the fans turn up in large numbers at a neutral venue to watch a Ranji Trophy match. This was the case at the Vidarbha Cricket Association stadium in Nagpur on Sunday when people turned out in huge numbers to get a glimpse of Indian ODI team skipper MS Dhoni.
The fans in the city were unaware of the presence of Dhoni, who flew in on a chartered flight and drove to the stadium located at the Civil Lines to join the Jharkhand side, who were playing Gujarat in one of the two semi-finals.
Once the news of Dhoni watching the proceedings spread like wildfire, the fans thronged the gates of the pavilion and in no time, one of the stands filled quickly, with over 300 people cheering for the right-hander.
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At the start of the season, Dhoni, who is not a part of the Indian Test team anymore after announcing his retirement from the format in 2014, was set to mentor the Jharkhand side throughout the season. But, due to his own cricketing commitments, he could not take a full-time mentoring role with the team and is sharing his views and thoughts with the players, which is helping them to cope up with the pressure of playing in such a big tournament.
With Jharkhand just a step away from making it to the Finals for the first time, the Indian skipper made it to the venue to be with his teammates for the semis and this got few Jharkhand players by surprise.
The heart of the matter
After being handed a Players and Match Officials accreditation, Dhoni entered the playing area and got the team together in a huddle five minutes before the start of the post-lunch session. He sat alongside former Indian pacer Subroto Banerjee beside the boundary and watched the proceedings in the second session.
At tea, he had a brief chat with Jharkhand skipper Saurabh Tiwary and their premier bowler Shahbaz Nadeem as Gujarat’s Priyank Panchal and Parthiv Patel made their opposition toil hard on the field.
Dhoni also shared a piece of his mind with Tiwary as he explained what the team can do when there is a big partnership. They also discussed about the options that were available for the team at that moment.
Dhoni is expected to stay with the Jharkhand team throughout their semi-finals and is likely to take part in the pre-match drills along with the team. It is also understood that the limited-overs skipper will share his opinions with the national selectors before they pick the Indian team for the ODI and T20I series against England.
MS Dhoni’s presence with the team will give their members a lot of confidence and his valuable inputs will help the youngsters develop their game. The Indian cricketers should take a cue from the wicketkeeper-batsman and should try to be with their Ranji teammates whenever they get a brief break from their International commitments in the future.Published 02 Jan 2017, 10:55 IST