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Photo Taken On: January 15th, 2011. Dreamstime.com

Dhoni and Ranchi: How a Cricketer Changed a City

Ask any Indian about Ranchi – They would tell you, hey, that’s M.S. Dhoni’s place. Yes, Ranchi is well known everywhere in India today as the city that gave us our most popular cricketer – perhaps more popular than even Sachin Tendulkar – M.S. Dhoni.

Dhoni is a legend in India, a living legend. It is only now we are beginning to get a sense of how much the people of this country really adore him. Even Sachin Tendulkar cannot get the sort of adulation that Dhoni gets, and that is a big thing to say.

Why?

Because Dhoni is a boy who changed Indian cricket. Indian cricket is about before Dhoni and after Dhoni.

Before Dhoni, cricket was a sport dominated by middle class types from cities such as Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Kolkata.

Now, after Dhoni, we have real talent, people from across the country, even from places like Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh playing for India. If cricket is a mass sport today, it is largely because of Dhoni.

What’s so great about Dhoni is how cool is he about all of it. He remains humble and unassuming and sticks to his roots.

Dhoni still stays in the city where he was born and brought up – Ranchi. Son of a low level official in the local state administration, Dhoni belonged to a typical Indian lower middle class family.

Ranchi is in Jharkhand, one of the poorest states in India. For most young people there, the only jobs available are those in the steel industry or in the public sector. Poverty is endemic in the region, as is unemployment.

Nobody in India ever thought about Ranchi, until MS Dhoni emerged on the scene.

The boy from Ranchi is today one of the richest men in India, and can afford a luxurious house or apartment in the poshest areas of Mumbai, Delhi or Bangalore.

But he still stays in Ranchi and is not going anywhere. That’s Dhoni for you – there is no one more honest or more loyal than this man. And that is why people of Ranchi love him.

Everyone in Ranchi has a story to tell about Dhoni. For folks in Ranchi, Dhoni is nothing short of a family member. He is everyone’s favorite brother, friend, nephew or uncle – depending on how old they are.

The affection is genuine, not made up and it is mutual. Dhoni loves his city, loves his people. He has made it clear many times that he is not going anywhere else.

Ranchi it is, for him. Ranchi for life.

As one of his friends, a former cricketer Adil Hussain says, “Everything Ranchi has now is because of Dhoni. Nobody knew Ranchi before Dhoni, now everybody knows about our city and I cherish those five years playing with Dhoni for CCL. So many kids play cricket here because of him.”

Today, the whole of Ranchi will turn up as India take on Australia in the third ODI to be played at the JSCA Stadium in the city. They fear that this could be the very last time their favorite son will turn up in India colors in his city.

Well, all good things come to an end some day. But the bond between Dhoni and Ranchi is forever.

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