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MS Dhoni (above) scored the winning runs in the third ODI against England in Ranchi © PTI

Ranchi: Jan 19, 2013

Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni‘s first international match at his home town turned out to be a fairy-tale affair as he conquered the hearts of 39,000-plus vociferous crowd, including his family members, who watched him lead the side to a comfortable seven-wicket win over England in the third ODI at Ranchi on saturday.

Dhoni not only took three catches during England’s innings, he also hit the winning runs by pulling Steven Finn to the square-leg boundary to trigger off scenes of celebration in the galleries and Indian dressing room at the JSCA International Stadium Complex.

The victory has put the hosts 2-1 ahead in the five-match series.

All roads in Ranchi led to Dhurwa this morning as thousands, waving the tri-colour, made a beeline outside the newly-built stadium in the south-west fringes of the city. Chants of ‘Dhoni, Dhoni’ reverberated the air as the spectators started thronging the stadium as early as 8:30 am.

Many like Sanjay Gupta, a businessman by profession, even turned up at the stadium by 7 am so as to avoid the heavy rush for the grand homecoming of the Indian skipper.

“We all had waited long for this moment. Since April 2, 2011, when he (Dhoni) hit the winning run to lift the World Cup trophy, we all dreamt of a match here. Now our wish has come true. Our prayers have been listened. We have come to cheer for our local boy Dhoni. He is truly Jharkhand’s idol,” said Gupta.

With the city hosting a match for the first time, thousands of police personnel and officials were deployed inside the stadium.

“Most of us have never seen a live cricket match. Today the match is taking place in front of our eyes at our very own ground. Had it not for Dhoni, we would not have been able to witness such a match,” a police official said.

Dhoni’s family members – his father Pan Singh, mother Devki Devi, sister Jayanti Gupta and wife Sakshi – were also part of the crowd.