There is one thing about Mahendra Singh Dhoni that even his staunch critics will applaud.
Whether he is on or off the field, he loves to walk the talk. So, when he declared that the hostility associated with an India-Pakistan encounter is long over, Dhoni meant it and his latest act has proved it.
The Indian captain on Saturday arranged a complimentary pass for a die-hard Pakistani cricket fan Mohammed Bashir, who came all the way from Chicago to support his team.
Although Pakistan were knocked out in the group stage, Bashir has stayed back to watch India play the finals and now has become a “die-hard Dhoni fan” having interacted with the Indian captain.
“I was watching India’s training session yesterday but I didn’t have any tickets. Dhoni is familiar with my face as he has seen me before the Champions Trophy’s Indo-Pak game in Birmingham. I told him that I don’t have a ticket to watch the finals.
“Dhoni then called some “Kaka” (trainer Ramesh Mane or ‘Mane Kaka’) and told him to arrange for my ticket. Kaka promptly gave me a complimentary pass. I am completely moved by his gesture,” the new “Chacha Pakistani” told PTI on Sunday.
He was over the moon after Dhoni also briefly interacted with him.
“He (Dhoni) asked about me and I told him that I am settled in Chicago. Since I was standing there for a long time, he told someone to give me fruits. I am a Pakistan fan but for Sunday, I am a Dhoni fan. Also I have another India connection. I am Hyderabad’s son-in-law as my wife hails from the region,” a proud Bashir said flaunting his final match pass.
During Pakistan’s matches, Bashir, who would be in his early 50’s, could be seen wearing a giant sized kurta in the design of his national flag. He has also been a big hit among the local fans after supporting Bangladesh during one of their matches.
Bashir runs a Mughlai restaurant in Chicago named “Ghareeb Nawaz” which specialises in biryani.
He is mad about cricket and will also be travelling to Australia and New Zealand next year for the 50-over World Cup.
“I have booked tickets for all the Pakistan matches. Those cost around 20 dollars save the Indo-Pak match ticket. It cost me around 80 dollars but never mind, it’s an India-Pakistan match, I would have bought it had it cost even more,” Bashir said.
Asked if he won’t invite Dhoni to taste his restaurant’s biryani, the talkative fan gets a trifle embarrassed. But Dhoni won’t mind if Bashir can raise the ‘pitch’ as Team India fights it out on a different pitch.