| Mumbai |
Published: August 18, 2020 1:01:49 am
The image of Indian cricket’s most famous shot, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s 2011 World Cup-winning heave over long on, started doing the rounds on social media on Saturday. It’s a shot that has become a synonym for everything Dhoni has achieved, and a testament to his captaincy that saw the country win both the 20-over (2007) and 50-over World Cups.
Though the temporary frenzy online was brought by the 39-year-old announcing his retirement from international cricket, there is a plan on the table for a permanent dedication to his achievement after it was proposed to mark the seat in the Wankhede Stadium where his famous six landed.
Mumbai Cricket Association (MCA) Apex Council member Ajinkya Naik on Monday wrote a letter to the MCA with the proposal, just two days after Dhoni announced the end of an international career that lasted nearly 16 years, and included 90 Tests, 350 ODIs and 98 T20 Internationals. “As an act of gratitude and tribute to Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s immense contribution to Indian cricket, the MCA can devote a permanent seat on his name at the stand where his famous World Cup-winning six had landed,” read Naik’s letter, which has been accessed by The Indian Express. “We can find out the area where the ball landed – and which seat it was flying to – after Dhoni smashed it to win the 2011 World Cup.”
It’s the first time there has been an offer for a specific seat in a stadium, and not an entire stand, to be named after a player in India. Abroad, however, the idea has been implemented a few times.
In 1993, at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, a seat in the Great Southern Stand has been painted yellow to commemorate Simon O’Donnell’s 122-metre six for Victoria over New South Wales. In 2018, the Etihad Stadium in Melbourne painted a third-tier seat red to honour Big Bash League franchise Melbourne Renegade’s Brad Hodge, who hit a 96-metre six in what was his last match before retiring.
Elsewhere, at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand Cricket decided to honour former all-rounder Grand Elliot by naming a seat after him. Elliot hit a six off South African Dale Steyn’s bowling which secured New Zealand’s first-ever spot in final of a World Cup back in 2015. The plaque that was placed on the seat where the ball landed stated: “Here Lies the Resting Place of Grant Elliott’s Mighty Six That Propelled the Blackcaps on March 24, 2015, into their maiden World Cup Final.”
Similar to how Elliot’s effort was honoured, a plan has been put in motion to celebrate Dhoni’s hit.
In the summit clash of the World Cup nine years ago, Dhoni sealed India’s triumph with a six off Sri Lankan pacer Nuwan Kulasekara’s bowling. The ball landed in the MCA Pavilion. “We can paint and decorate the seat in a unique way to celebrate Dhoni’s association with historical Wankhede Stadium in Indian cricket history,” Naik’s letter said. “The seat could also be used as a major tourist attraction, like a paid tour of the stadium perhaps. It will allow the fans to relive the most glorious moment in Indian cricket and it will be part of MCA’s heritage. We can have a plaque on that seat with some special text to honour that moment.”
The MCA Apex Council is scheduled to meet on Tuesday and it is likely that Naik’s proposal will be discussed. He also went further to suggest finding the World Cup ball that was used in the 2011 final, which can be preserved in the MCA’s planned museum. “It would also be nice if possible to find out where that World Cup ball is,” he added in the letter. “It can be a proud attraction in the upcoming cricket museum. Here is a small suggestion from me to honour the legendary MS Dhoni.”
So far, the Wankhede Stadium has dedicated a few areas to former players. There is the Sachin Tendulkar Stand, the Sunil Gavaskar Stand, and Vijay Merchant Stand. There’s also the Polly Umrigar Gate and Vinoo Mankad Gate.
Soon, there may be a MS Dhoni seat.
In the summit clash of the World Cup nine years ago, Dhoni sealed India’s triumph with a six off Sri Lankan pacer Nuwan Kulasekara’s bowling. The ball landed in the MCA Pavilion.
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