A row regarding tickets to the third ODI between India and England in Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s hometown Ranchi on Saturday ensured that the skipper’s brother Narendra had to sit out, literally. Narendra has alleged that officials at the JSCA International stadium promised him a 100 tickets, but later went back on their word. This forced Narendra and his wife to stay at home even as 40,000 people in Ranchi watched India beat the visitors by seven wickets at the stadium. JSCA officials, however, have said that Dhoni's family was given 10-15 VIP passes which Narendra could have used. Dhoni’s parents were present and were seated in the ‘BCCI President’s Box’.
Narendra, who runs a small business in Ranchi, said “a very senior official” of the Jharkhand State Cricket Association (JSCA) had promised him about a 100 tickets a month ago, but the family received only 15. “I was willing to pay for the 100 tickets I asked for, but as D-day approached, the officials even stopped answering my phone calls,” Narendra told DNA.
Narendra also alleged that JSCA members were targeting him because he supports a man who challenged the current JSCA president in association polls a few years ago. “As a member of the All Jharkhand Students Union, I had supported our leader Sudesh Mahto against Amitabh Choudhary, the JSCA president,” said Narendra. “The JSCA people are targeting me because I support a man who once challenged their president.”
Narendra said he was forced to purchase 15 tickets so as to oblige close friends. “I spoke to Mahi about the passes and he told me, ‘bhaiyya, agar nahi mil raha hain toh khareed lo. Agar hum jeet gaye toh phir saare doston ko ghar par party denge (brother, if you aren’t getting passes, the you might as well buy them. And if the team wins, we’ll host a party for your friends),” Narendra said of his conversation with his brother.
Narendra placed blame squarely on Choudhary when asked which official was to blame.
Chaudhary could not be reached for comment, but JSCA secretary Rajesh Varma rubbished Narendra’s claims. “We sent about 10 or 15 VIP passes to Dhoni’s house and they were received by his father. I am not sure about the exact number but it’s surely not fewer than 10. His parents are here, sitting in the VIP box. People can say whatever they want,” Verma said.
When confronted with Varma’s explanation, Narendra said, “Do you think 15 passes will do? Dhoni has so many friends, relatives and teachers. All of them live here. That’s why I asked for 100 tickets. We were willing to pay. Somebody had to sacrifice the joy of watching the match at the stadium. So my wife and I chose to stay back. The 15 tickets we bought and the 15 passes they gave us were given to our near and dear ones,” Narendra rued.