Crowds usually don’t throng routine practice matches, especially on working days. However, the match on Tuesday featuring the visiting England team in Mumbai was special due to the presence of Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
It was the final time that India’s most successful skipper MS Dhoni was seen leading the side although it was an ‘A’ team. And the crowds too nearly packed the Brabourne Stadium in South Mumbai to witness ‘Captain Cool’, for one last time at the helm.
The Ranchi superstar and captain of the 2007 World T20 and 2011 World Cup winning squads was leading the India A side in the first of two warm-up matches to be played by the tourists. Since the afternoon, queues were seen at the gates of CCI as palpable excitement was witnessed among the crowd.
Initially, the East Stand was filled to its capacity, then the crowd thronged the North Stand at the Churchgate station end.As the day progressed, the West stand too was being filled to capacity.
Notably, the entry to the crowd was free for this particular match.As the first wicket of Mandeep Singh fell, the crowds cheered “Dhoni-Dhoni” as they expected MSD to elevate himself, but were disappointed as Ambati Rayadu walked in.
Dhoni, who sprang a surprise on the cricket-crazy nation by quitting as the limited overs skipper, was seen playing football with his teammates at the same venue on Monday evening.
He also practiced in the nets under lights.Whoever the batsman at the crease, the crowd was just cheering for Dhoni and was keen to have the glimpse of their favourite leader for one last time.