India v England, 3rd ODI, Ranchi January 18, 2013

Dhoni's homecoming brings Ranchi double delight

ESPNcricinfo staff

With the local boy arriving in Ranchi as India captain for the third ODI against England, the city has been taken over by Dhoni mania. In neighbouring West Bengal, Sourav Ganguly still sends the locals berserk whenever he makes a public appearance. Ranchi has had to wait eight years after Dhoni's India debut to host its maiden international game. No wonder then that thousands lined the roads from the Birsa Munda airport to the team hotel, a sight that left MS Dhoni feeling "humbled". Getting in and out of the team hotel has been difficult, with people crowding the entrance and even prompting the police into a mild lathi charge.

To celebrate the occasion, a liquor shop put up posters of Dhoni and Alastair Cook and even lined its counters with bats and stumps. The authorities went a step further. The state aviation department has been roped in, and there are plans to have a glider fly over the stadium and scatter gulaal (pink-coloured powder) on the outfield during the inauguration ceremony, before the start of the match and during the innings break.

Students are demanding a holiday on Saturday, the match day, something schools, already hit by shutdowns because of a severe cold wave, can ill-afford. J Mohanty, principal of DPS [Delhi Public School] Ranchi, is benevolent, though. "This is a proud moment for Jharkhand," Mohanty told the Hindustan Times. "The cricket match will be on the students' minds and they will also have to wait outside the hotels for a glimpse of their cricketing heroes. So we will not hold any additional classes this weekend."

There is a reason Dhoni matters so much to Ranchi and Jharkhand, which had little to cheer when it was part of Bihar state and has had little to cheer since it was carved out in 2000. Political instability is common; central-government rule has just been imposed for the third time in the state's short existence. "Small-town boys from places like this just don't get to be captain of India," Ushinor Majumdar, Jharkhand correspondent for the Hindustan Times, told the Guardian. "And it is mostly because of Dhoni that there is so much attention. In many ways it is an under-developed, backward place. But it is known in cricket thanks to Dhoni."

International cricket in Jharkhand was restricted to the steel city of Jamshedpur, where Dhoni has played a couple of ODIs, including one against England in 2006, at Tata Steel's Keenan Stadium. It was the state association's desire to have its own stadium that enabled Ranchi to watch Dhoni play for India in the city.

Dhoni was clearly thrilled with the stadium at his hometown. "Personally, it's a special moment for me. The journey begins tomorrow. It's the beginning of a new innings," he said at a function inaugurating cricket's latest international venue*.

He said the 39,000-seater stadium will give Ranchi plenty of recognition. "When I first joined the team, people were asking me the place I belonged to," Dhoni said. "I used to say I am from India and the next thing I would say I am from a place called Ranchi in Jharkhand. I used to explain Ranchi, giving various routes like it is a place close to Kolkata, near Jamshedpur. We are the richest state in natural resources.

"But, after the stadium was built it has now become an international venue. At least, we need not have to explain further about Ranchi in the cricket playing nations. It is a proud beginning; proud moment for people of Jharkhand."

The mood in the city has already shown how proud Ranchi is of the double honour of making its international debut with a homegrown captain.

* January 18, 17.00GMT This story has been updated after the stadium's inauguration ceremony

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Gaurav on January 19, 2013, 19:00 GMT

    I cannot believe that Dhoni played with 15000 of the 40000 present in the stadium!

  • N on January 19, 2013, 5:41 GMT

    @Arpra: I was thinkiing the same thing - that is an awesome picture. The photographer couldn't have captured the helicopter shot more perfectly. As for Dhoni, I can only say this as an Indian fan - I am so glad Dhoni plays for India and not against because he is the BEST one day batsman ever. One can only wonder what he could have done if he had continued to bat up the order.

  • Dummy4 on January 19, 2013, 4:43 GMT

    @randyoz funny its coming from a fan whose team isn't ranked even in the top odi sides and coming for the two teams continuously shuffling in top 3 odi spots.Or did u forget Australia's last match score.Come on mate care for your own team because if India and england are minnows then currently Australia doesn't even qualify to play to ODI's with scores like 40/9 :D

  • adithya on January 19, 2013, 2:51 GMT

    i'm also from ranchi and will be cheering for ranchi's favourite son today....go mahi.....

  • Kumar on January 18, 2013, 19:41 GMT

    After having only BIT Mesra (Ranchi) as its jewel for so long, the city has MSD, IIM Ranchi, National Games and now this exquisite JSCA cricket stadium. Ranchi has truly arrived on the global map now. Congratulations Ranchi and way to go.

  • gurinder on January 18, 2013, 19:38 GMT

    congrats mahi, go team blue, 1.2 billion hearts bleed blue, ggmu

  • Alex on January 18, 2013, 19:11 GMT

    Go Ranchi , down dhoni. :)

  • Anand on January 18, 2013, 19:11 GMT

    Wow - Cricket for Dhoni and thousands of cricket lovers in Jharkhand has come to a full circle now that Dhoni is playing before his home crowd. When Jharkhand was part of Bihar, people often asked if Bihar being such a large state ever produced even an average Ranji player and to some extent that mocking had some points. We all Bihari's often dreamt of having a cricketer from our own house who can play for India but honestly none of us would have dared to think, that one day we will have one of the most successful captain of India from Ranchi who played Tennis Ball Cricket Tournaments (For the lack of proper cricketing facility) traveling all across smaller towns of Jharkhand and Bengal. The second point for discussion among youth in the 90's would be, whether our city will ever host an international game. Now that our home grown cricketer, a poster boy of Indian cricket gets to play in a world class stadium in Ranchi itself, all such dreams have been realized. Way to Go Dhoni/Jrkhand

  • s on January 18, 2013, 19:10 GMT

    MSD is a good for nothing jerk. most of the achievements in his career were because he had a formidable team. when the team was gone he was a pale shadow of himself. when people started asking for his head he started to bat. his captaincy is still a fluke. spat with VVS has left his test team like a rag tag unit. he should give up T20 and CSK captaincies if he wishes to continue to play for india.

  • Jay on January 18, 2013, 18:29 GMT

    Congratulations to Ranchi. MSD will definitely put up a night to remember !!!! GO INDIA !!!

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