The Dhoni hand in the JSCA wicket

So, what if he is no longer a part of the Indian Test team? Mahendra Singh Dhoni is still keen to ensure that his former team-mates get all the necessary help in what could be a series-deciding Test in his hometown in Ranchi.

For Ranchi’s debut Test, the JSCA has prepared three strips under the supervision of curator S. B. Singh. (File photo)   -  PTI

As the groundsmen were busy preparing the pitch at the JSCA International Stadium in Ranchi on Tuesday evening, they had a surprise visitor. Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Back from Kolkata in the morning after playing in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, where his team qualified for the quarterfinals, nobody expected the Jharkhand skipper to come to the stadium, and that too, just to have a look at the wicket. But those who know the former India captain very well, agree that this is what makes Dhoni stand out.

With the Indian team led by Virat Kohli coming back into the series following a 75-run win against Australia in Bengaluru, the focus has shifted to the third Test, which begins in Ranchi on March 16. And that is why Dhoni is not in a mood to take things easy. To ensure that his former team-mates get all the necessary help in what could be a series-deciding Test, Dhoni made it a point to personally check the wicket.

“He (Dhoni) is very cautious about the wicket conditions. To make sure that everything is in place, MS visits the stadium regularly,” the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) secretary, Debasish Chakrabarty, told Sportstar on Wednesday.

For its debut Test, the JSCA has prepared three strips under the supervision of curator S. B. Singh. While the first strip has less grass on it, and is expected to be chosen by the Indian team, the second looks lush green. The third strip has uniform grass on it.

Before leaving for Kolkata to play in the Vijay Hazare Trophy, Dhoni and his boys had practised on all the three strips to check whether they were ready for the Test. Even the JSCA Challengers Trophy matches were played on the three strips.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni plays a game of pool at the JSCA Stadium in Ranchi on Wednesday evening.   -  Manob Chowdhury

 

“MS gave a few suggestions. And even after reaching Kolkata, he constantly kept in touch with the curator and the groundsmen to know about the preparation of the pitch,” Chakrabarty said.

On Tuesday too, Dhoni stayed for an hour to inquire about the conditions. “With the Indian team bouncing back in the series, even Dhoni wants to make the third Test memorable. That’s why he is always ready to help,” Chakrabarty said.

Balanced track

Even though the JSCA hasn’t received any missive from the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) with regard to the type of wicket it should prepare, the secretary indicated that they would be delivering a track that will help the spinners.

The JSCA curator, S. B. Singh, however, claims that the track would be a balanced one, where the batsmen will also have their moments of glory. “We will be strictly following the BCCI guideline, which states that a pitch should be balanced. Even though this track would eventually help the spinners, it would also give the batters a chance to stick around,” Singh said.

With the first Test in Pune ending in three days, there were fears whether the second Test in Bengaluru would go on until the fourth day at least. It did.

The JSCA curator, however, assured that the third Test will go on till the final day. “This is something I can vouch for. The spectators will enjoy a five-day match,” Singh said, while adding that the spinners will reap the benefits from the third day. “The tweakers will be able take control of the game after the second day. The side batting in the fourth innings will face a challenge,” he said.

After the Australian spinners wreaked havoc in Pune, the International Cricket Council (ICC) had termed the wicket as ‘poor’. That certainly has put all the curators in a spot. “We have to be extremely careful about the wicket,” Singh said.

While the preparation is in full swing, a final call will be taken after the BCCI’s East Zone curator, Ashish Bhowmick, reaches the venue on Friday to take charge of the proceedings. “We have kept three tracks ready, and now it’s up to the team management to decide,” Singh said, adding that even Dhoni is being kept in the loop about each and every step.

So, what if he is no longer a part of the Indian Test team? The local boy, Dhoni, is still ready to go the distance for his team, for the boys he had mentored!

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