An image of Mahendra Singh Dhoni playing drums and shaking legs had made a lasting impression here during the opening of the venue, but about four years later when the city becomes India’s 26th Test centre, the mood is strikingly sombre. When Ranchi makes its Test debut in India’s series-defining third cricket Test against Australia for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy in two days time, the most famous son of city will be busy leading his state in the in the domestic one-dayers in Delhi.
Having shed his ‘whites’ to prolong his career in shorter formats of the game in late 2014, the most famous son of the Ranchi is currently in New Delhi as his team play Vidarbha in the quarter finals of Vijay Hazare Trophy tomorrow. The intense build-up to the Ranchi Test, notwithstanding, Dhoni is certainly going to be missed, something that is evident from empty ticket counters in the city.
“It’s all because of Dhoni that we’re able to host our first Test match here. His rise has put the city in international map. But at the moment, we want him to do well in New Delhi. At the same time, we hope Ranchi becomes lucky for Team India,” Dhoni’s childhood coach Keshav Banerjee told PTI. The association has distributed free passes to schools and institutions, including Dhoni’s alma mater Jawahar Vidya Mandir at Shyamali as the secretary said every day about 10,000 students will turn up.
“Dhoni is the only icon here. Certainly the crowd will miss him during the historic occasion. But we are trying our best to fill in the stands. We expect to see at least 30,000 in attendance each day,” Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) secretary Debashis Chakraborty told PTI of the 40,000-capacity stadium at Dhurwa in the south-western outskirts of the city.
If not a grand cultural programme that marked the inauguration of the stadium on the eve of the India-England one-dayer on January 18, 2013, the state association had originally planned a felicitation for Dhoni. But Jharkhand’s fine fortunes in the Vijay Hazare Trophy played a spoilsport. “Our team is in a crucial stage (in domestic one-dayers), and we want Dhoni to return with the Vijay Hazare Trophy,” he said.
The state’s original facility was at the Keenan Stadium in Jamshedpur but with the rise of Dhoni, the Rs 180-crore stadium here came up in very little time. Within three years of its maiden ODI, the venue has hosted four ODIs and one Twenty20I and the third Test will ink a new chapter in the stadium’s history.
This has become a reality after the BCCI’s ambitious plans to take Test cricket to small centres to revive its dwindling popularity. “We are grateful to the Board for awarding the Test status to Ranchi. We have put up hoardings across the city mentioning our ‘first Test match on Jharkhand soil’ with Dhoni’s photo.
“He is our ambassador. Whenever he is in Ranchi, he visits the venue and spends a lot of time here doing fitness training or giving us valuable inputs,” Chakraborty said. The JSCA has also invited Dhoni’s family members who are expected to be present in any of the five days.