Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Jamshedpur gave wings to Dhoni’s dream

By Manpreet Singh Bhatia

Jamshedpur, Aug 17: Golden Boy of Indian cricket Mahendra Singh Dhoni is arguably the greatest white-ball skipper in the history of the game.

After close to 16 years since making his debut for India former Indian captain Dhoni announced his international retirement on Saturday, August 15 through his official Instagram profile. Dhoni posted a four-minute-long video, which was a compilation from the photographs of his illustrious career – ever since he first donned the Indian jersey. He added the 1976 song, ‘Main pal do pal ka shayar hun’, sung by Mukesh, to the video. In fact, this was one of Mahi�s favorite songs for he sang it once on request of a TV anchor.

Dhoni during practise session on the eve of the 6th ODI between India and England held at Keenan Stadium in Jamshedpur on April 12, 2006

The 39-year old is the only captain in the world to have won all three ICC trophies – the 50-over World Cup, the T20 World Cup and the Champions Trophy – and he also took India to the top of the ICC Test rankings. With the retirement of MS it is an end of an exciting era in Indian cricket.

Ranchi is Dhoni’s Janmabhoomi but Jamshedpur has been his Karmabhoomi. It was Jamshedpur’s Keenan Stadium that gave Dhoni wings to fly over and across the international arena. From U-19 to Ranji Trophy he played most his domestic matches at the Keenan and bagged several awards including that of  the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) Best Batsman.

Dhoni during practise session on the eve of the 6th ODI between India and England held at Keenan Stadium in Jamshedpur on April 12, 2006.

Jamshedpur is etched in the heart of former Indian captain. Dhoni who was discovered by TRDO and one of the great left hand batsmmen Prakash Poddar, who saw Dhoni play for Jharkhand in a match in Jamshedpur in 2003 and sent a report to the National Cricket Academy. He was perceived for his endeavors in best wicket-keeping in the 2003/04 season, particularly in the One Day group, and was picked for the India ‘A’ crew for a voyage through Zimbabwe and Kenya. He was then chosen to play for the Indian Cricket team, in the wake of making an imprint in India A and in 2004, where he made his ODI debut against Bangladesh in Chittagong. From that point forward, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has made amazing progress in cricket. His real exhibitions with the bat have saved India from numerous  difficult spots.  When Dhoni was selected in India A team he was sipping coffee with team mates in Bistupur. After the practice session at Keenan Stadium, Dhoni was on his way to Hotel Rajhans in Bistupur where he always stayed during his playing days in Jamshedpur, and stopped over for cups of coffee at Cafetaria near Hotel Boulevard on Bistupur Main Road. He got the news of getting selected in India A at that point of time. 

Mahendra Singh Dhoni hits out during the Sixth One Day International between India and England at the Keenan Stadium on April 12, 2006 in Jamshedpur.

Dhoni played two ODIs at the Keenan Stadium which was his home ground before the JSCA Stadium was built in Ranchi. He scored 28 runs against Pakistan on April 9, 2005 the third match of the ODI series.

Promoted to open the batting by the then Indian captain Virendra Sehwag, Dhoni scored a blistering 96 against England in the 6th ODI of the series on April 12, 2006. He hit three sixes and ten fours in the 106 ball knock which brought the Steel City crowd to its feet. Sehwag was out for just four runs and it was all on Dhoni to play the sheet anchor�s role. Under the harsh April sun, Dhoni stretched his muscle just after scoring the half century after which the physio was called in who applied ice. After that Dhoni scored a scintillating 96 runs at his Karmabhoomi, Keenan Stadium.  Icidentally, this was the last ODI played at Keenan Stadium.

Tata Steel�s Keenan Stadium last hosted the international cricket match between India-England in the year 2006 and since then the ground has been only limited to Ranji Trophy and other domestic matches.

When Dhoni came to Jamshedpur for U-19 selection trial selectors did not include him in the team.  

Dhoni was always fond of Kashi’s tea near Modi Park opposite Keenan Stadium. Whenever he was in Jamshedpur for Ranji matches or practice sessions he never forgot to have the tea at the stall. Kashi says, �Dhoni is a very likeable person and is very polite. He used to spend quality time with his friends at the tea stall after the practice session at Keenan. He also likes dosa of Balajee Hotel. Dhoni used to take auto  from Hotel Rajhans in Bistupur to arrive at the Keenan.� 

Former Jharkhand Ranji coach Kajal Das of Telco has spent a long time with Dhoni during his pre India stint. “Indian cricket will never get another Dhoni. His class is unmatched and it is impossible to fill in the massive shoes of the legend. Captain Cool. He  has always been respectful towards his seniors and gave tips to junior cricketers whenever he was around. Plan B was always ready in Mahi’s mind along with Plan A whenever he took the field. When I heard about the news of his retirement I could not digest it but Dhoni is known for unexpected decision making”, added Das. 

Dhoni�s decision to quit cricket took everyone by surprise specially the former cricketers in Jamshedpur.

Former Ranji cricketer Jeetu Patel says, “Dhoni has made a name for Jharkhand on the world stage. He gave Indian cricket the much needed boost, took the game to another level. Everyone must learn to stay calm and cool from Dhoni specifically in pressure situations. We will miss him in blue jersey no 7.” 

Another former Ranji cricketer Ashok Ghosh said, “There is now a big void in Team India which will be hard to fill and the players will always miss Dhoni. He was out of the team for more than a year after the World Cup semis. But this is the hard truth of life which we need to digest”.      

“With Dhoni deciding to end his international career it is end of an era in Indian cricket. Jharkhand will always be indebted to Kohinoor of cricket. Today people who know Jharkhand is just because of Mahi and I personally will miss his Helicopter Shot”, said Aseem Singh, secretary, West Singhbhum District Cricket Association.         

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