Kolkata, April 24 dmanewsdesk: In a never seen atmosphere, yellow fever gripped the Eden Gardens in a tribute to talismanic MS Dhoni, who probably played his last match at the iconic venue, as he led Chennai Super Kings to an emphatic 49-run win over Kolkata Knight Riders in the IPL here.
KKR franchise had planted their purple flags in every seat of the 67,000-capacity stadium before the match began on Sunday.
But once the spectators packed the stadium before the toss, all purple flags disappeared and it was a sea of yellow in support of Dhoni.
“I have played a lot of cricket over here. I had a job at Kharagpur which was two hours from here. The love comes from there,” Dhoni said at the toss, overwhelmed by the response.
At the commentary, Ravi Shastri also endorsed the view, saying: “It’s the sea of yellow in Eden, tribute to one man. He’s the King of East, it’s MS Dhoni.” There was, however, no official word from CSK that Dhoni was playing his last season for the franchise but the 41-year-old has hinted few days back that he is in the last phase of his career.
And as Ajinkya Rahane and Shivam Dube were going berserk in their 85-run stand, loud chants of ‘We want Dhoni’ reverberated the Eden Gardens.
Some fans even carried playcards where it was written: “Dear Mahi, take my life and play 100 years more.” Dhoni finally made a grand entry after the dismissal of Rahane with two balls left in CSK’s innings.
All the fans greeted him by flashing their mobile phone cameras as he remained unbeaten on two from three balls.
The first ball he faced was a no ball from Kulwant Khejroliya.
“We want a helicopter shot,” shouted the fans as he gave a big heave but could not connect with the ball.
Dhoni finally got off the mark in the last ball of the match with a thump to long-off.
Not just from the city, fans have arrived here all the way from Cooch Behar in North Bengal like Anita Harijan, who had come with her four-year-old daughter.
“I boarded the train on Saturday night. I stayed up all night in the general compartment. I finally came to Eden. I want to see Dhoni from the front,” she said.
“It was a dream come true. I’m here to see him. Everyone in my family is Dhoni fan. We are here to support CSK.” Another fan Alka Patnaik, who had come to Eden with six friends from Odisha, said: “We just wanted to see Mahi.” “I came from Odisha to Kolkata to see Dhoni. I want to enjoy the KKR vs Chennai match with my friends. I won’t take my eyes off Mahi for a moment,” Alka, who had CSK written on her cheek, said with a smile.
Such was the never-seen Dhoni fever that gripped Eden on Sunday.
Dhoni-effect booster on CSK ================== Architect of CSK’s win, Ajinkya Rahane, said the tremendous show of support was possible only because of “Mahi Bhai”.
“You always get to see such support when your team has Mahendra Singh Dhoni,” Rahane, who struck a 29-ball 71 not out, said at the post-match press conference.
“It feels really great that CSK fans are coming everywhere, not just to the ground, but to airport, outside team hotel. It’s only possible because of Mahi Bhai. We all are really lucky that we are getting to play and learn a lot of things under him.
“It feels great when CSK supporters follow you everywhere. As a player, you get a big confidence boost.” KKR pacer David Wiese, who made his debut for the franchise, named it the Dhoni-effect.
“It’s the Dhoni-effect. That’s what he has on the Indian supporters.” Asked if it was difficult to cope with the ‘alien atmosphere’ at home, Wiese said: “It’s tough when you see more opposition supporters in a home game.
“It just gets harder and harder, the momentum switches. It’s easy to get carried away, that’s the nature of the game.” PTI TAP SSC PDS PDS