The South Eastern Railway played host to a very special passenger on Wednesday night when its former employee Mahendra Singh Dhoni preferred to travel by train with his Jharkhand one-day cricket team from Ranchi to Howrah to participate in the Vijay Hazare Trophy.
Rewinding the clock back to his struggle days in early 2000s when he was posted as a ticket inspector in Kharagpur, India's most successful captain, Dhoni travelled in second-tier AC of 18616 Kriya Yoga Express.
Dhoni, who will lead Jharkhand in domestic one-dayers for the Vijay Hazare Trophy here, did not ask for any special service in his first train ride in more than 13 years.
"They (Jharkhand) did not have a special coach reserved for them and Dhoni travelled with his team and other co-passengers in 2AC. They had a block booking for 23 passengers including Dhoni," South Eastern Railway chief public relations officer Sanjoy Ghosh told PTI.
Dhoni boarded the Kriya Yoga Express at 9.40 pm in Ranchi and disembarked in Howrah at 6.50 am this morning after crossing the Kharagpur platform early this morning at 4.15 am.
The excitement for the World Cup-winning skipper was palpable as a relaxed-looking Dhoni shared a selfie with his millions of followers on social network.
"We had a prior information about this and so we had arranged special security when they boarded in Ranchi last night and upon their arrival this morning in Howrah," Ghosh said.
Before making the India team Dhoni was employed by SER as a TTE from September 2001 till July 2004 in Kharagpur, something that is well-documented in his biopic "MS Dhoni", a blockbuster last year.
"Railway is India's lifeline and everyone travels by train at some point. It's Dhoni's greatness that he opted to take train and be with his wards instead of flying," Ghosh added.
Dhoni, who was removed as skipper of Indian Premier League side Rising Pune Supergiants a few days ago, had played last two seasons only as wicketkeeper for Jharkhand.
But having relinquished Team India captaincy from all formats, Dhoni opted to lead his state and all eyes would be on the 'captain cool' in this season's domestic one-dayers beginning February 25.
This will be a star-studded affair with Harbhajan Singh leading Punjab that also has Yuvraj Singh, while a fit-again Indian opener Rohit Sharma is back for Mumbai after a thigh surgery.
Dhoni-led Jharkhand will begin their campaign againstKarnataka at Eden Gardens on February 25.