As Manish Pandey departed with India at 131/3 during the second One-Day International (ODI) here on Thursday, chants of “Dhoni, Dhoni” filled the Eden Gardens.
The noise died down soon enough with Kedar Jadhav coming out to bat and Mahendra Singh Dhoni sitting in the pavilion, padded up and smiling.
In many ways, this was capping off the day since Thursday morning which saw fans wearing “Dhoni” on their back alongwith “Virat” and a couple writing his name on their chests while entering the venue.
“We really don’t know when he will play here next in India colours and he is in form at the moment. We don’t want to miss watching him play,” a supporter said.
At 36, and an illustrious career to reflect on where Dhoni has won two World Cups (World T20 in 2007, 50-over World Cup in 2011), the popularity of the Ranchi dasher was unmistakable even in the Virat Kohli era.
Jadhav looked good for his run-a-ball 24 before Australia pacer Nathan Coulter-Nile sent him back.
With Kohli looking good for his 31st ODI century, out came Dhoni who has been in good form lately with his 79 in the last match helping India post 281/7 after being reduced to 87/5 at one stage in the first innings. India won the match by 26 runs via the Duckworth Lewis method.
Here, Dhoni treated his fans with a boundary soon after taking strike with a crisp pull that raced to the backward square leg boundary. The ease with which he executed the shot, bringing the bat from up to down in one motion, underlined his form.
But the joy of his supporters was short-lived as the former captain followed incumbent Kohli to trudge back to the pavilion managing just five off 10 deliveries.
Virat missed out on a hundred, chopping a Coulter-Nile delivery onto his stumps eight short of his second ton at the Eden.
For the record, Dhoni has a good average at the ground averaging 57.66 here from six games.