'MSD is the city's favourite, our favourite.'
Mahendra Singh Dhoni relived his fond memories of the city by doing a customary pitch inspection at the Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA stadium in Visakhapatnam, where he announced himself on the international scene more than 13 years ago.
The 37-year-old Dhoni, a two-time World Cup winning former captain now, walked in, saw the pitch and briefly chatted with groundsmen on the eve of the second One-day International between India and West Indies.
While Dhoni made his international debut against Bangladesh in what was a subdued start, he caught the cricket world's fancy for the first time with his swashbuckling 148 in a high-scoring match against arch rivals Pakistan in 2005.
India won that game and there was no looking back since for Dhoni.
The BCCI tweeted: "The KING is here! This ground and the city of Visakhapatnam has a special bond. Memories aplenty. Let's create plenty more tomorrow.”
Dhoni has batted four times in the venue so far, aggregating nearly 250 runs with a healthy average of 80 and a strike rate above 100.
More than 13 years ago, coming to bat at No.3 after the fall of Sachin Tendulkar, Dhoni changed the complexion of the game with a knock full of dazzling strokes, which would become his trademark.
That day, even Virender Sehwag's 40-ball 74 paled in comparison.
Given the bond Dhoni and the venue and the port city share, it was apt when a group of match volunteers, pursuing chartered accountancy and engineering, declared "MSD is the city's favourite, our favourite".
"No one but MSD."
Besides giving them an innings to remember, Dhoni had prasied the city and its beautiful landscapes, which became the launchpad for his success story.