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Dhoni – The Finisher!
By B Dixit - Apr 8, 2017 12:39 pm
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It was a time when Team India was developing a knack of winning trophies, especially in ODI cricket. Following the triumphant ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 and ICC Champions Trophy 2013, now was the turn of the West Indies Tri-Nation series including Sri Lanka. The series was scheduled to start just four days after the final of the Champions Trophy in Birmingham. The conditions were different as compared to England. So was the climate. After all, the team had travelled an additional 7,000-odd km towards the west.
It was a series of mixed results for the three teams. West Indies, Sri Lanka and India had both won and lost two matches each. West Indies lost out on the Net Run Rate, which ruled out the home team from the series. Asian giants in India and Sri Lanka were to face in the final.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni featured in India’s first match of the series. Having pulled a hamstring, he sat out for the next three games. With Dhoni returning and India opting to chase in the final, another Dhoni-ish finish seemed a possibility. Converting such possibilities into reality is what Dhoni is known for and exactly what he did on 11/07/2013 in Port of Spain.
India had left out Murali Vijay and Umesh Yadav for MS Dhoni and R Vinay Kumar. Indian spinners made sure that Sri Lanka was bowled out under 50 overs. With contributions from Kumar Sangakkara (71) and Lahiru Thirimanne (46), Sri Lanka could manage 201-10 in 48.5 overs. Ravindra Jadeja was the highlight of Indian bowling as he registered figures of 7.5-1-23-4.
Shaminda Eranga and Suranga Lakmal did not allow the Indian openers the kind of start they would have wanted. India could only score 25 for the loss of Shikhar Dhawan (16) in 10 overs. The following over saw Kohli (2) edging a delivery to the wicket-keeper. With Dinesh Karthik (23), Rohit Sharma (58) and Suresh Raina (32) falling at regular intervals, it was time for Dhoni to steer the small chase.
57 runs in 95 balls with Dhoni in the middle showed signs of bread and butter for him. But the Sri Lankan bowlers were in no mood of providing an easy meal for the Indian captain. In the 38th over, Rangana Herath dismissed Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin on successive deliveries, further denting India’s progress. With India requiring 37 runs in the last 10 overs, the ball was still in Dhoni’s court. Lakmal bowled a maiden over to Bhuvneshar Kumar and Lasith Malinga found him wanting in front of the stumps in the next over.
In the 47th over, Angelo Mathews got rid off Vinay Kumar (5). With one wicket in hand, India required 19 runs from three overs at this stage. Malinga restricted Dhoni to a mere two runs in his last over. Mathews bowled the penultimate over to Ishant Sharma, conceeding only a couple of runs. With all that had happened in the last 10 overs, the crucial part for Indian batsmen was that they had dragged the game to the last over.
15 runs. Six deliveries. One wicket. New bat. Eranga to bowl. Was there a screenplay writer for this match?
Eranga started with a slower delivery outside the off stump, to which Dhoni was completely deceived. With mid-off up in the circle, Eranga followed it up with a fuller delivery. Dhoni finally broke the shackles as he sit a six right over the bowlers head. He found the vacant point boundary on the next ball. It seemed as if he was waiting for this moment to arrive. With five runs required to win in three balls, all the three results were possible but Dhoni chose an Indian win by slapping the ball for a six over the extra cover fence.
It was another of those uncountable matches where Dhoni dragged the game to the last over and then dictated terms. It was another of those matches where India won on Dhoni’s heroics. Yes, it was another of those matches that belonged to DHONI!

Video credits – YouTube.

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