“Ranchi ko toh log sirf, mental hospital ke lia jaante hain,” not one but a lot of people who have not been to the capital city of Jharkhand had the same view until a local boy, who grew up in one of its township area, made the country proud with his achievements. His mindset was crystal clear, he wanted to play for the country and not for the crowd. But kya hain na, kehne waale keh gaye,”kuch toh log kahenge….
Being a cricketer in India is not an easy task, not due to the competition in an overly populated country, but due to the criticism one has to face for his failed ‘efforts’. When MS Dhoni failed to score runs for the nation they burnt his picture and attacked his house, when he led India to triumphs across major ICC events and IPL, they made him demi-god. But again! Kya kare, logon ka kaam hain kehna…
But MS Dhoni won all the battles of life with his mindset. He had complete control over his mind as the 2011 World Cup winning captain proved that, when you have control over it, you can scale any mountain – no matter where you come from.
‘Mecon ka Dhoni’
Mecon is an established township in Ranchi, specially allocated in the heart of the city, for the employees working at MECON Limited. There are schools in abundance in this area and so are playgrounds. It is essentially a part of the city where kids come with plenty of dreams and out of them, some like MS Dhoni, not only make a name for themselves but give their roots the due recognition.
Pan Singh, his father, was an employee of MECON. Dhoni studied at DAV Jawahar Vidya Mandir in this locality and was a natural athlete. He extensively played football, badminton and basketball. It was for this school team that Dhoni played as a goalkeeper and the physical education (PE) teacher KR Banerjee offered him to play cricket. The young Mahendra agreed and began his cricketing journey only to achieve everything one could ever dream of.
MS Dhoni Pavillion, JSCA International Cricket Stadium
One would have not thought of watching an international match in Ranchi, let alone the dreams of a stadium. But all the success achieved by the local boy became instrumental in laying the foundation for a stadium in the city as its work was finally completed in the year 2011. It has been the home ground to former India captain MS Dhoni.
The stadium has honoured MS Dhoni by naming a block after him. But Dhoni had denied to inaugurate it himself. When requested to do so by Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) secretary Debashis Chakraborty, a modest Dhoni told him, ‘Dada apne hi ghar mein kya inaugurate karna’.
‘Ranchi ko log Dhoni ke naam se jaante hain’
For the uninitiated, there are a few more specialty about Ranchi. There is a Punjab sweet house at Main Road – famous for its sweets and lip-smacking chole bhature, you can also gouge on some scrumptious litti in Doranda (the area I come from) and chicken chowmein at Firaylal Chowk. But what tops the list is MS Dhoni!
2011 World Cup triumph was special for the Indian cricket team fans. The entire country celebrated as Dhoni launched one off Nuwan Kulasekara to help India lift the World Cup after a drought of 27 years. But the emotions was different. It was different for the fans in Ranchi as the son of the soil was the mastermind behind the historic win.
And then, after making the fans wait for so long after the 2019 World Cup, Dhoni who holds the honorary position of Lieutenant Colonel in the Indian Territorial Army, in the lingo of a defence personnel wrote “from 1929 hrs consider me Retired” on his Instagram post.
But for me what added to the emotion of ‘my captain’ retiring was the song, ‘mein pal do pal ka shaayar hu….
If only, I could convey, my feelings – I would have said, ‘No captain! An entire city will be better known due to your achievements’.