The chants reverberated around the JSCA Stadium in Ranchi during the first India vs New Zealand T20I on Friday. He wasn’t playing, of course. It has been almost four years now since MS Dhoni featured for the Indian team. His last appearance coincidentally came against New Zealand at the 2019 World Cup semifinal.
But with less than 10 months left in the next ODI World Cup, the former India captain would be the star crowd attraction during the T20I in his hometown. Present in the stands to watch the game, Dhoni received a grand applause from the crowd.
New Zealand all-rounder Jimmy Neesham, who recently turned down New Zealand Cricket’s central contract over his franchise commitments, said it meant the players who actually featured in games flew ‘under the radar’.
MSD + Ranchi = 🤩
When the Ranchi crowd welcomed the legendary @msdhoni in style 😃👌#TeamIndia | #INDvNZ | @mastercardindia pic.twitter.com/40FoEDudSv
— BCCI (@BCCI) January 27, 2023
“It’s a great feeling actually. You sort of feel, you can fly under the radar,” Neesham told Star Sports. “No one is really there to watch you bat or bowl. Everyone is there to watch someone else. I always quite enjoyed it to be honest, coming to India knowing that the pressure will be on someone else.”
Coming into the T20I series on the back of a 3-0 defeat in the ODIs, the Black Caps beat the hosts by 21 runs in the first T20I.
Having lost the toss and being put in to bat first, New Zealand posted 176 runs on the board at the loss of six wickets. Devon Conway (52 off 35 balls) and Daryl Mitchell (59 off 30) were the chief orchestrators with the bat for the visitors.
In response, India could only muster 155 in their quota of 20 overs. The two teams will next face off on Sunday in Lucknow.