MSD’s Magnetic Pull: Dhoni has retired, so have I, says his Pakistan-born fan ‘Chacha Chicago’

New Delhi, August 17

In Karachi-born Mohammad Bashir Bozai’s vow to surrender watching India-Pakistan play on the ICC occasions, obsessive fandom follows Mahendra Singh Dhoni into retirement, including to issues like jersey quantity and disciples corresponding to Suresh Raina.

Travelling the world to observe the arch-rivals in motion doesn’t make sense anymore to Bashir, aka ‘Chacha Chicago’, who endured abuses from Pakistani followers whereas cheering for Dhoni.

The well-known ‘chacha’, as an alternative, plans to go to Ranchi to satisfy the person whose sphere of affect spreads far and broad.

“Dhoni has retired and so have I. I don’t see myself travelling for cricket again with him not being around. I loved him and he loved me back,” Bashir advised PTI from Chicago, the place he runs a restaurant.

“All great players have to call time one day but his retiring makes me sad and brings back a lot of precious memories. He deserved a grand send-off but again he is beyond that,” he added.

The unstated bond between Bashir and Dhoni blossomed after the 2011 World Cup semifinal between the 2 nations.

A ticket for the arguably the largest recreation of the match in Mohali was a treasured commodity however Dhoni organized it for the 65-year-old, sufficient for him to “unconditionally love” the World Cup-winning captain for all times.

For somebody who survived three coronary heart assaults and crisscrossed the globe to see Dhoni in flesh and blood, cricket won’t ever be the identical. Now that he’s accomplished attending reside video games, his subsequent cease is Ranchi.

“I will go to his house in Ranchi when things get normal (post COVID-19 pandemic). That is the least I can do to wish him all the best for the future. I will also ask Ram Babu (another superfan, from Mohali) to come with me. I would have travelled to see him in the IPL but there are travel conditions and with my heart condition, it is not safe to do so,” stated Bashir, whose spouse hails from Hyderabad (India), a spot he visited in January this yr.

He says what makes his relationship particular with the Dhoni is that they by no means interacted a lot throughout tournaments, most not too long ago the 2019 World Cup in England, however the Indian legend was all the time there to assist him earlier than he might ask.

“On some occasions, I did get some time with him but in 2019, we could not interact much. But like always, he arranged a ticket for me. And during the Asia Cup in 2018, he took me to his room and gave me his jersey. That was really special just like the two times when he gave me his bat. When he did not have the time to reach me, he sent a member of the support staff with the tickets. He did not have to do that but he did,” stated an emotional Bashir.

But which is his most cherished reminiscence as a lifelong Dhoni fan?

“This particular incident during the 2015 World Cup I can never forget. I was there for a game in Sydney and was sitting in the sun, it was extremely hot. Suresh Raina came from nowhere and gave me sunglasses. He said ‘it is from Dhoni bhai not me’. I smiled back at him.”

Such was his loyalty to Dhoni that Bashir would brazenly cheer for India and for that, he, at instances, needed to endure abuses from Pakistani followers.

“This one time in Birmingham, the Pakistani fans hurled choicest of abuses at me and even called me a ‘Gaddar’ (traitor). I had to ignore all of it. I love both countries but humanity comes first anyway,” he signed off. PTI

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