With over 100,000 fans anticipating the IPL final, Dhoni fever is in full swing.
DailyStar || Shining BD
On Sunday, the Indian Premier League final and the likely farewell of superstar MS Dhoni were scheduled to take place in front of more than 100,000 spectators in the largest cricket stadium in the world.
In Ahmedabad, Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings will play the defending champion Gujarat Titans with the goal of winning a record-tying fifth T20 tournament championship.
Gujarat, however, will not be taken lightly despite playing in their home stadium and attempting to defend the title they won in a fairytale debut season a year ago. Gujarat is led by Hardik Pandya.
In 2022, Pandya won the trophy in front of a record-breaking 101,566 spectators at the 132,000-seat stadium during a T20 cricket match. However, organizers had faith that record would be broken on Sunday night.
Tickets for the grand finale are sold out, and we anticipate a packed house, a state association media official told AFP.
Although the authorities had anticipated a large crowd for the championship game as well, only about 75,000 spectators showed up for Gujarat's crushing victory over Mumbai Indians on Friday.
On Saturday, a long line of spectators appeared happy as they waited to use their online tickets at a counter outside the stadium.
To "see Dhoni lift the trophy one more time," software engineer Suresh Babu said he had traveled from Chennai, at the other end of the country.
The 43-year-old, who was sporting Dhoni's yellow Chennai jersey, continued, "I know it may be his last, but we pray that he comes back again next year."
Gujarat has received a lot of domestic support during their second competition season, but Dhoni's presence will cause divisions in the community.
Despite the wicketkeeper-batsman's statement that he will decide on his IPL future later this year, the 41-year-old is still a huge draw in cricket-crazy India, and it is widely believed that the championship game will be his last as a player.
The current season has seen the former India captain pack out venues across the nation, and the tournament final at the Narendra Modi Stadium won't be any different.
T-shirt vendor Sharif, who only goes by the name Sharif, told AFP that this year, Dhoni's Chennai number 7 T-shirt is equally popular. Last year, only Pandya jerseys were sold.
Young supporter wearing a Hardik Pandya jersey said: "I want Hardik to win the IPL again, but I still want to see Dhoni hit the helicopter shot for a six."
In his prime, that shot—a bottom-handed wrist flick—became synonymous with Dhoni.