What’s the story?
Cricketers have often been mobbed by fans, especially in India, where the sport is considered by many as a religion and the cricketers enjoy Demi-God status.
On Wednesday, Mahendra Singh Dhoni did a first when he obliged a crazy fan’s request to sign an autograph while he was batting. The man, who had breached the security, rushed to the centre and extended a white sheet of paper and a pen to the former Indian captain.
The lucky fan, dressed in a blue and red shirt, and a pair of denims, even managed to touch his hero’s feet and take his blessings before being escorted out of the field.
It was the third quarter-final match of the Vijay Hazare trophy played between Jharkhand and Vidarbha at the Palam A Stadium in Delhi. Vidarbha, who chose to bat first, could manage only 159 runs in their stipulated 50 overs as the Jharkhand bowlers kept things tight.
With a low target and the Jharkhand openers doing a commendable job, the fans present had resorted to not being able to witness Dhoni batting in the match. Every run scored by Ishank Jaggi was jeered and there were even shouts of “Jaggi wapas jao aur Dhoni ko bulao,” (Go back Jaggi and call Dhoni out). However, as Dhoni made his way towards the wicket after Saurabh Tiwary’s dismissal, the smiles were back on the fans’ faces.
It is a rare sight to see Dhoni walk out to bat in the calm setting of the Palam Stadium. The ground, itself, is not well equipped to handle big crowds. But because Dhoni was playing in the match, the interest had peaked and the usually quaint venue had sprung to life.
A sizeable group of fans were all precariously perching on top of the thin iron fence that marks the outline of the ground. They had only come to see one man – MS Dhoni, the captain who had won it all for India. They were boisterous, the chants of “Dhoni, Dhoni” reverberating throughout the ground.
And when Dhoni made his way in his inimitable style in the 35th over, there was a thunderous applause. A young fan failed in his attempt to see his idol up close but another sneaked through the security and ran onto the centre square. When the security figured out what had happened, the intruder had already dashed off with Dhoni’s autograph.
It was only befitting that Dhoni hit a huge six over mid-wicket to seal the victory. After all, that’s what he does best.
Parallels from history
Of course, Dhoni is no stranger to fanfare and it certainly wasn’t the first time he has been approached by a fan in the middle of a match. Earlier this year, during England’s warm-up game against India A, a fan had breached the security at the Brabourne Stadium and had fallen at Dhoni’s feet while he was batting.
Dhoni’s reaction to this incident was magnanimous. If he would have got angry and lashed out, the man would have got a serious dressing down by the security. Instead, the former skipper showed humility and made a fan’s dream come true. Therein lies his greatness.