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Page last updated at 11:14 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 12:14 UK

Cricket star gets female guard

By Salman Ravi
BBC News, Ranchi

Women police deployed to guard Dhoni
For these police women, guarding Dhoni is an unusual assignment (Photos: Mahadeo Sen)

Indian cricketing hero Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been provided an all-female police force to protect him from his female fans, police say.

Dhoni recently opted out of playing a series in Sri Lanka because of fatigue.

But ever since he landed in his home town of Ranchi, in the eastern Jharkhand state, to get some rest, his fans have refused to leave him alone.

Dhoni is the captain of India's one-day cricket team and has cult following in a nation crazy about the sport.

His good looks and powerful performance on the field have earned him many fans, including a lot of young women who regularly mob him for autographs.

Last year, at Calcutta's Eden Gardens, an 18-year-old girl broke through the security cordon, ran out into the field and hugged him.

The cricketer's close friends say Dhoni is yet to get over the embarrassment.

'Difficult'

"Dhoni has a Z-plus security cover [the highest level provided by the state]. Yet it is difficult to keep the female fans away," senior police officer Manvinder Singh Bhatia told the BBC.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni signs an autograph
The cricketer's fans follow his every move

"So we decided to deploy women commandos for his security as they can do the job with ease," he said.

Another police officer said, "The next three weeks that he is here we will ensure that he does not have to face any kind of embarrassment like the one in Calcutta."

For the 15-odd women commandos from the Jharkhand Armed Police constabulary who have been entrusted with the task of keeping Dhoni's boisterous female fans away, this is an unusual posting.

Trained rigorously in warfare and ambush techniques, they say they never thought they would be deployed to keep an eye on the state's most eligible and sought-after bachelor.

Ask one of the commandoes, Seema Toppo, a tribal, about her new assignment and she blushes.

"I watched him play on television and never thought I would see him from such close quarters," she giggles.

"It is good to be deployed for his security," says another.

Dhoni arrived in Ranchi recently to rest and recharge his batteries after a hectic schedule playing the Indian Premier League, the triangular series in Bangladesh and the Asia cup in Pakistan over a period of three and a half months.

But in his home town, he is a celebrity whose every move is followed closely by his fans and the media.

Even a routine trip to the doctor or dentist results in fans making a beeline for him wherever he goes.




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