Any routine practice match, especially on a working day, may not witness a big crowd, but the one featuring the visiting England team here today was a special one.
It was the final time that India’s most successful skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni was seen leading the side although it’s an ‘A’ team.
And the crowds too nearly packed the Brabourne Stadium in South Mumbai to witness ‘Captain Cool’, for one last time at the helm.
The Ranchi superstar and captain of the 2007 World T20 and 2011 World Cup winning squads was leading the India A side in the first of two warm-up matches to be played by the tourists here.
Since the afternoon, queues were seen at the gates of CCI as a palpable excitement was seen among the crowd. Initially, the East Stand was filled to its capacity, then the crowd thronged the North Stand at the Churchgate station end.
As the day progressed, the West stand ?too were being filled to capacity. Notably, the entry to the crowd was free for this particular match.
As the first wicket of Mandeep Singh fell, the crowds cheered “Dhoni-Dhoni” as they expected MSD to elevate himself, but to their much disappointment Ambati Rayadu walked in.
Dhoni, who sprang a surprise on the cricket-crazy nation by quitting as the limited overs skipper, was seen playing football with his teammates at the same venue last evening. He also practiced in the nets under lights.
Whoever the batsman at the crease, the crowd was just cheering for Dhoni and was keen to have the glimpse of their favourite leader for the one last time.