India v England, 3rd ODI, Ranchi January 19, 2013

Ranchi lives a dream

Prasun Bose
The people of Ranchi's love for MS Dhoni and their excitement at having international cricket for the first time in the city was unbridled
11

The people of Ranchi proved an old adage on Saturday. All roads in the city seemed to lead to the brand-new Jharkhand State Cricket Association Stadium on its southwest outskirts, as cavalcade after cavalcade of bigwigs and bikers made their way to the first international match in Ranchi.

It might be a cricketing backwater, but Ranchi has produced a gem in India captain MS Dhoni, and the local people's love for him knows no bounds. Images of Dhoni are plastered on either side of the main road leading to the stadium, with local companies taking full advantage of the interest the game has generated to promote their wares, while also wishing the Indian team good luck.

"Mahi means the world to Ranchi-ites. In fact, one hotel he used to frequent as a youngster has been renamed after him," said Pratap Singh, who runs a hotel in the city. "We feel a connect with him because he is one of us, and has worked his way to the dizzying heights of cricket. He is an inspiration."

To the man on the street, all that matters is a glimpse of the captain and his team of superstars. Ever since the players arrived in the city on Wednesday evening, the Radisson Blu Hotel has been surrounded by people, and loud cheers go up from time to time when a player is spotted or a team bus leaves or arrives.

Even on Saturday, as the Indian team bus left the hotel for the venue, hundreds of people cheered it along, with chants of 'Dhoni, Dhoni'. Even the policemen lining the route couldn't help but get carried away, and had a hard time keeping the crowds under control.

"It's a proud moment for the city so the crowd is understandably excited. We are too, but it's our duty to ensure the safety of the team and keep them under control," constable Bikash Kumar said.

Scores of tricolours were being sold along the streets, and as one got closer to the stadium, there were face-painters and people distributing '4' and '6' banners. Traffic moved at snail's pace, and even as early as two hours before the first ball, fans had grabbed their seats. Others waited for entry in queues that doubled back on themselves, especially on the southern side of the ground where two of the bigger stands are located.

The stadium itself is a beauty, invoking bits of Lord's, the Dubai stadium, and the DY Patil Stadium in Navi Mumbai. White canopies top four of the stands and contrast well with the light brown bricks and stone of the buildings themselves. The capacity is just under 40,000 and, like the new Rajkot stadium, the pillars supporting the upper tiers of the stands are placed deep into the buildings, in order to provide a good view from all parts. The stands, too, are very deep, a bit reminiscent of Kolkata's Eden Gardens, while the two grass banks square of the wicket on either side are a novelty at an Indian ground and add a lot of charm to the venue.

As Dhoni and Alastair Cook appeared for the toss, the roar from the fans seemed to lift the ground off its foundations, and the now-familiar 'Dhoni' chant went up. He called correctly to add to the joy, and responded to Ravi Shastri's question about playing at home by saying: "It means a lot, a very special feeling. I have grown up here, played a lot of cricket and of the 40,000 people [here], I must have played tennis-ball cricket with at least 15,000."

Soon after, as the bowlers of the two teams practised on the side pitches, the crowd was treated to a unique experience - of low-flying gliders scattering gulaal (pink powder). Three planes encircled the area and performed some acrobatics too, and the spectacle got the crowd warmed up for the prolonged period of cheering to come.

"I never expected to see this. First our city gets a hero, then a beautiful stadium, and now we get to see a flypast too. Sapna sa lag raha hai [it feels like a dream]," proclaimed Puja, a housewife sitting in the South-Eastern stand.

By the time the first ball was bowled, over 90% of the stadium was full, excluding the JSCA president's enclosure on the northern side, which remained empty for much longer.

The Indian team may be losing more than it wins, and the busier metropolitan cities maybe giving some matches, especially Tests, the cold shoulder. But Ranchi's response proved that cricket still held the prime spot in the heart of small-town India.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • AbiGowda on January 20, 2013, 1:03 GMT

    Well written story, nearly wiped a tear of joy by the time I finished reading the article. Inspirational.

  • Azfar on January 19, 2013, 15:53 GMT

    I am writing this post from England, but I am a Ranchi boy.....and my pride knew no bounds today....growing up as a cricket crazy kid in Ranchi I could never imagine that one day we will such a spectacular stadium and an International match in Ranchi. Of course Dhoni is the pride & joy of the city. I had trouble explaining to people where Ranchi is...but since Dhoni has come along all need to say is - I am from Ranchi where Dhoni is from. Even my English colleagues understand that. To top it all Dhoni is from my school (DAV Shyamali)......Hats off to JSCA....Ranchi is no more a Crciketing 'backwater'......

  • Cpt.Meanster on January 19, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    This is a very special moment for the city of Ranchi. Usually considered as one of the 'backwaters' of Indian cities, this is one monumental occasion for every Ranchiite involved. Of course we have the skipper, MS Dhoni, whose story itself is a fairytale. The quiet soccer goalkeeper turned wicket keeper is now the pride of Ranchi. I wish to extend my congratulations to the Jharkhand State Cricket Association for putting up a spectacular inauguration ceremony yesterday and also for building a world class stadium. Hopefully, many of Ranchi's youngsters can emulate Dhoni and go on to do special things for India, be it in cricket or other sports. God bless.

  • Hindh on January 20, 2013, 15:20 GMT

    @front foot lunge Then according to you Rahul dravid was conqueror of England as it was under him india won test series in england in 2007 and his amazing performances in england all the time...... Dhoni u are the PRIDE OF INDIA......

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on January 20, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    @Ritesh, If Dhoni's the 'Pride of India', I can only imagine what label you'd give Alistair Cook, the conqueror of India don't forget, if he was Indian. Maybe the 'Emporor'. Or 'King'. Dhoni came up yet again second best against Cook in the test series, as has been the way now for so long. Us English fans are more than happy he is your 'Pride of India'.

  • Ritesh_Bhagwat on January 20, 2013, 8:43 GMT

    Dhoni is not only the Pride of Ranchi but also a Pride of India . Many Congratulations to all folks in Ranchi!!

  • on January 19, 2013, 18:09 GMT

    dhoni is great as the new stadium. hope to see more odi then one day i hope to buy a test match ticket there AMEN

  • ultimatechamp_1 on January 19, 2013, 16:40 GMT

    Hoping for a cricket stadium in Lucknow too

  • crickketlover on January 19, 2013, 15:39 GMT

    Great story. Congratulations to Dhoni and cricket fans in Ranchi.

  • ramli on January 19, 2013, 13:21 GMT

    Some little cheer for Ranchi when other metropolis are brooding over recent losses ... Let us look forward to Dharamsala ...

  • AbiGowda on January 20, 2013, 1:03 GMT

    Well written story, nearly wiped a tear of joy by the time I finished reading the article. Inspirational.

  • Azfar on January 19, 2013, 15:53 GMT

    I am writing this post from England, but I am a Ranchi boy.....and my pride knew no bounds today....growing up as a cricket crazy kid in Ranchi I could never imagine that one day we will such a spectacular stadium and an International match in Ranchi. Of course Dhoni is the pride & joy of the city. I had trouble explaining to people where Ranchi is...but since Dhoni has come along all need to say is - I am from Ranchi where Dhoni is from. Even my English colleagues understand that. To top it all Dhoni is from my school (DAV Shyamali)......Hats off to JSCA....Ranchi is no more a Crciketing 'backwater'......

  • Cpt.Meanster on January 19, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    This is a very special moment for the city of Ranchi. Usually considered as one of the 'backwaters' of Indian cities, this is one monumental occasion for every Ranchiite involved. Of course we have the skipper, MS Dhoni, whose story itself is a fairytale. The quiet soccer goalkeeper turned wicket keeper is now the pride of Ranchi. I wish to extend my congratulations to the Jharkhand State Cricket Association for putting up a spectacular inauguration ceremony yesterday and also for building a world class stadium. Hopefully, many of Ranchi's youngsters can emulate Dhoni and go on to do special things for India, be it in cricket or other sports. God bless.

  • Hindh on January 20, 2013, 15:20 GMT

    @front foot lunge Then according to you Rahul dravid was conqueror of England as it was under him india won test series in england in 2007 and his amazing performances in england all the time...... Dhoni u are the PRIDE OF INDIA......

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on January 20, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    @Ritesh, If Dhoni's the 'Pride of India', I can only imagine what label you'd give Alistair Cook, the conqueror of India don't forget, if he was Indian. Maybe the 'Emporor'. Or 'King'. Dhoni came up yet again second best against Cook in the test series, as has been the way now for so long. Us English fans are more than happy he is your 'Pride of India'.

  • Ritesh_Bhagwat on January 20, 2013, 8:43 GMT

    Dhoni is not only the Pride of Ranchi but also a Pride of India . Many Congratulations to all folks in Ranchi!!

  • on January 19, 2013, 18:09 GMT

    dhoni is great as the new stadium. hope to see more odi then one day i hope to buy a test match ticket there AMEN

  • ultimatechamp_1 on January 19, 2013, 16:40 GMT

    Hoping for a cricket stadium in Lucknow too

  • crickketlover on January 19, 2013, 15:39 GMT

    Great story. Congratulations to Dhoni and cricket fans in Ranchi.

  • ramli on January 19, 2013, 13:21 GMT

    Some little cheer for Ranchi when other metropolis are brooding over recent losses ... Let us look forward to Dharamsala ...

  • Jalz007 on January 19, 2013, 12:56 GMT

    Hope this stadium gets more opportunities in the future to host international Matches!!

  • Jalz007 on January 19, 2013, 12:56 GMT

    Hope this stadium gets more opportunities in the future to host international Matches!!

  • ramli on January 19, 2013, 13:21 GMT

    Some little cheer for Ranchi when other metropolis are brooding over recent losses ... Let us look forward to Dharamsala ...

  • crickketlover on January 19, 2013, 15:39 GMT

    Great story. Congratulations to Dhoni and cricket fans in Ranchi.

  • ultimatechamp_1 on January 19, 2013, 16:40 GMT

    Hoping for a cricket stadium in Lucknow too

  • on January 19, 2013, 18:09 GMT

    dhoni is great as the new stadium. hope to see more odi then one day i hope to buy a test match ticket there AMEN

  • Ritesh_Bhagwat on January 20, 2013, 8:43 GMT

    Dhoni is not only the Pride of Ranchi but also a Pride of India . Many Congratulations to all folks in Ranchi!!

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on January 20, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    @Ritesh, If Dhoni's the 'Pride of India', I can only imagine what label you'd give Alistair Cook, the conqueror of India don't forget, if he was Indian. Maybe the 'Emporor'. Or 'King'. Dhoni came up yet again second best against Cook in the test series, as has been the way now for so long. Us English fans are more than happy he is your 'Pride of India'.

  • Hindh on January 20, 2013, 15:20 GMT

    @front foot lunge Then according to you Rahul dravid was conqueror of England as it was under him india won test series in england in 2007 and his amazing performances in england all the time...... Dhoni u are the PRIDE OF INDIA......

  • Cpt.Meanster on January 19, 2013, 9:59 GMT

    This is a very special moment for the city of Ranchi. Usually considered as one of the 'backwaters' of Indian cities, this is one monumental occasion for every Ranchiite involved. Of course we have the skipper, MS Dhoni, whose story itself is a fairytale. The quiet soccer goalkeeper turned wicket keeper is now the pride of Ranchi. I wish to extend my congratulations to the Jharkhand State Cricket Association for putting up a spectacular inauguration ceremony yesterday and also for building a world class stadium. Hopefully, many of Ranchi's youngsters can emulate Dhoni and go on to do special things for India, be it in cricket or other sports. God bless.

  • Azfar on January 19, 2013, 15:53 GMT

    I am writing this post from England, but I am a Ranchi boy.....and my pride knew no bounds today....growing up as a cricket crazy kid in Ranchi I could never imagine that one day we will such a spectacular stadium and an International match in Ranchi. Of course Dhoni is the pride & joy of the city. I had trouble explaining to people where Ranchi is...but since Dhoni has come along all need to say is - I am from Ranchi where Dhoni is from. Even my English colleagues understand that. To top it all Dhoni is from my school (DAV Shyamali)......Hats off to JSCA....Ranchi is no more a Crciketing 'backwater'......