England premier all-rounder, Ben Stokes was baffled by India’s run-chasing strategy during their league match against England last year in the last year’s World Cup. He also went on to question India’s intent during the mammoth 338 run chase. In his new book ‘On Fire’, Ben went on to decipher the batting tactics employed by Indian batsmen Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli, and MS Dhoni.
Stokes found Kohli and Rohit’s approach ‘mystifying’ and saw ‘no intent’ from Dhoni during the run chase. In the book, Stokes wrote: “Arguably, the way MS Dhoni played when he came in with 112 runs needed from 11 overs was even stranger. He appeared more intent on singles than sixes. Even with a dozen balls remaining, India could still have won…there was little or no intent from him (Dhoni) or his partner Kedar Jadhav. To me, while victory is still possible you always go for broke.”
Ben Stokes revealed that the England dressing room felt that Dhoni was looking to take the game deep so that the run-rate remained intact. Dhoni remained unbeaten on 42 off 31 balls but most of the runs came in the last over when the match was anything but over.
The English all-rounder, elaborated, “There is a theory in our camp that Dhoni’s way of playing has always been the same. Even if India can’t win the game, he takes it right to the end to try to make sure that India’s run-rate stays relatively healthy. His big thing has always been to give himself a chance of winning by being at the crease for the final over, but he generally likes to stick around to get as close to a target as possible even in a losing cause.”
In the book ‘On Fire’ published by Headline Books and distributed by Hachette India, Stokes analyzed each of England’s matches in the World Cup. In fact, he also called Kohli’s complaints about the ’59-metre’ boundary on one side “whingeing”. England’s new-ball bowlers Chris Wokes and Jofra Archer kept a tight leash on Rohit and Kohli as they consumed nearly 27 overs for their 138-run stand.
Recalling the same, Stokes said, “The way Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli played was mystifying. I know that we bowled brilliantly well during this period, but the way they went about their batting just seemed bizarre. They showed no desire to put any pressure back onto our team, content instead to just drift along, a tactic that was clearly playing into our hands.”
Stokes also wrote that Kohli’s explanation about short boundaries sounded a “bit weird” to him. In the game in Birmingham, India was comprehensively beaten by 31 runs failing to chase England’s massive score of 337 for 7.