The Brabourne Stadium was buzzing with chants of ‘Dhoni, Dhoni’, emotion running high among thousands of his fans who descended on the venue to watch his farewell as skipper of an Indian side. (Is MS Dhoni India’s best captain? Azhar joins the debate)
MS Dhoni fans were also granted their wish when he provided a sparkling finish to the India A innings, smashing an unbeaten 68 off 40 deliveries.
However, what no one would have bargained for was a security breach. A spectator climbed the 10-foot fencing, dodged the security personnel in the North Stand, and rushed in to touch MS Dhoni’s feet while he was batting.
Dhoni and partner Hardik Pandya were chatting in between overs. The well-built spectator was initially hesitant to come on to the pitch. But when Dhoni invited him, he stepped over the pitch and approached the double World Cup-winning skipper.
Dhoni shook his hand before the chasing security personnel escorted him off the ground. On Dhoni’s insistence, he was not beaten and was let off with a warning, it is learnt.
There was no Mumbai batsman in the game, but Mumbaikars thronged the ground to see their favourite Indian superstars Dhoni, Yuvraj Singh, Shikhar Dhawan and Ashish Nehra.
Though the gates opened at 12pm, an hour before start, people had started queuing from 10am onwards. By the time England had bowled five overs, the north and east stands had filled up, with entry being free. By the 10th over, more than 15,000 people had crammed in.
Dhoni was, of course, the flavour of the match. Yuvraj came a close second on the popularity charts. Despite it being a working day, many young fans were spotted arriving at the Churchgate station wearing Dhoni’s No 7 jersey.
Closer to the ground, many were also spotted wearing the yellow Chennai Super Kings jersey, which IPL fans still associate Dhoni with. Chants of ‘Dhoni Dhoni’ reached a crescendo when he came out for the toss with England skipper Eoin Morgan.
Many die-hard Dhoni fans had travelled from Mumbai’s farthest suburbs to watch him. “It’s difficult to think of Team India not led by Dhoni after this match. It’s like an end of an era. We didn’t want to miss Dhoni leading for one last time,” said Jigar Desai, who was with a group of friends.
Another bunch of fans chose to bunk the last couple of lectures in the college --- a stone’s throw away from the stadium --- when they heard India had been put in to bat. “The noise is audible in our classroom, and it is too hard to resist not coming to the ground. We had enough reasons with Yuvraj making his comeback and Dhoni captaining for the last time,” said Krish Sharma, a B.Com student.