IPL 2017 Final, RPS vs MI: Hyderabad still gets high on MS Dhoni | ipl 2017 | Hindustan Times
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IPL 2017 Final, RPS vs MI: Hyderabad still gets high on MS Dhoni

By 7pm, an hour before Mumbai Indians (MI) and Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) begin their fourth joust of IPL10, the stadium had started filling up and the one name on the back of many people was that of MS Dhoni. He may not finish games like he used to but the aura around him is far from faded.

ipl 2017 Updated: May 22, 2017 01:42 IST
Dhiman Sarkar
MS Dhoni , former Rising Pune Supergiant captain, scored 290 runs in 16 IPL 2017 games.
MS Dhoni , former Rising Pune Supergiant captain, scored 290 runs in 16 IPL 2017 games. (BCCI )

The lane that leads to the Rajiv Gandhi International Stadium in Uppal could be called Mahi Way, at least for Sunday evening. (RPS vs MI HIGHLIGHTS)

This in a city whose cricket fields were ruled by ML Jaisimha’s swagger and style and one for whom MAK Pataudi deigned to play in the Ranji Trophy. This at a venue where Dhoni’s highest score in 10 years of the Indian Premier League (IPL) is a meagre 37 and that too came in 2008. And one which has a pavilion named after VVS ‘281’ Laxman. (RPS vs MI SCORECARD)

By 7pm, an hour before Mumbai Indians (MI) and Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) begin their fourth joust of IPL10, the stadium had started filling up. And the one name on the back of many people was that of MS Dhoni.

Be it in RPS shirts or that of the India blue. Those who didn’t have Dhoni’s name written on their backs simply had the number seven glowing bright. Hyderabad , where Dhoni scored 87 against England in an ODI in 2011, it seems, still gets high on MSD.

At least one person was also seen wearing a Cristiano Ronaldo’s No. 7 shirt. Maybe he wasn’t willing to spend Rs 200 on a fake Dhoni replica in RPS colours that was being hawked on the roadside.

Dhoni may not finish games like he used to but the aura around him is far from faded. It used to be like this at IPL games for Sachin Tendulkar and it still is for Virat Kohli and the man he succeeded as India captain in all formats. When Sachin walked out in an MI No. 10 shirt on Sunday evening, the stadium roared like he was still India’s No.3.

This will be Dhoni’s seventh IPL final and the first since 2015. “It’s another opportunity for him to win a final tomorrow. I know he is up for it and is motivated for his team,” RPS coach Stephen Fleming had said on Saturday.

It seemed Dhoni alone could compensate for RPS’s obvious lack of experience of playing on a stage as big as this.

Maybe because the underdogs make for a better story or perhaps due to the charismatic presence of Dhoni, an eye estimate made it seem there were more people in Pune colours than MI who are chasing an unprecedented third IPL title.

With the terms of engagement being that RPS are in the IPL on a two-year deal, its future is uncertain. Ditto that of Dhoni given that Chennai Super Kings (CSK), the team he hand-held to IPL glory, are due back next year. It seemed Hyderabad wanted Dhoni’s possible sign-off from RPS to be special.