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That’s The Way… Maahi Ve!

March 24, 2016

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39.3 out of the 40 overs were elapsed and we were down to the final 3 balls of the most thrilling encounter of the 2016 World T20 so far. The ecstatic Bengaluru crowd went silent as Bangladesh looked well on course to knock the hosts out of the tournament in their own backyard. With just 2 needed off those 3 balls and Bangladesh having 2 set batsmen in the crease it looked completely done and dusted for the men in blues. But how many times we had seen before that a player with an ice cool brain and stupendous skills of impeccable intuitions stealing the game away from the opponents! When it gets down to the wire Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the master of masters in writing the scripts and that’s exactly what he did last night to deny Bangladesh from registering their first ever victory against India in T20 Internationals.

Nobody can understand what goes on inside the mind of Dhoni and nobody can explain the logic behind the decisions he comes up with. He is not necessarily right all the time, of course nobody can be; but this very thing has made him the one of the most unpredictable and the most successful captains of all time in many counts. At times bowlers used to forget how to take wickets, fielders could not hold on to the catches and even the umpires’ decisions did not stand by the side of his team; yet captain cool single handedly snatched the food from opponents’ plate in the blink of an eye. Something similar happened last night – India did not bat well enough, dropped 3 catches which cost them a many runs and they conceded a few in the outfield while defending a small total. But at the end of the day it was 3 or 4 unbelievably invaluable stuffs from the Indian captain which separated the two sides by the smallest possible margin.

Here’s my take on those MSD-Special things for you, which I bet, if anybody in the world can do, it has to be the one and only Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

Stumping to Dismiss Sabbir

 

What others would have done: Either would never have taken the bells off (as the feet never really went up except for that fraction of a second which would go unnoticed to most of the people) or would have shattered the bells straightaway. Sabbir would have survived and the way he was batting, it was just a matter of time that he would head his team over the line.

What Dhoni did: Never really looked at the stumps. He gathered the ball down the leg side and kept watching the feet of the batsman. With the standing position of the batsman he knew that the back leg has to go in the air sooner or later. He kept waiting and waiting for the batsman to lift his foot millimetres above the ground and dislodged the bells in no time. He was spot on reading the reflex of the batsman and there is nothing left to talk about his own reflexes – top, top stumping to get rid of a man in prime form.

Field Placement for the Last 3 Balls

 

What others would have done: With just 2 needed from the last 3, most of the captains would have brought the fielders inside the 30 yard circle. However the set batsmen won’t mind that as it gives them the chance to go over the top and hit the winning runs. Here too they played two lofted strokes in two balls, and had the field been up in either of the balls it would surely have sealed the game for the chasing team.

What Dhoni did: To be honest, you can’t stop boundaries and singles at the same time. Here Dhoni had to make a big call between these two. Let’s go back to the earlier fixture of this tournament between South Africa and England where the latter scored 228 runs as easily as one would like, but we all remember how much dilemma that last one run created. That’s where the batsmen often get into trouble by attempting the glamour shots and here too the Indian captain was absolutely magnificent reading the minds of the batsmen. Both Rahim and Mahmudullah fell to the same trap. Also Dhoni had the right fielders placed in the right areas.

Keeping With One Glove in the Last Ball

 

What others would have done: Nobody would dare to keep wickets with a glove off; or may be I am wrong, the ways things have changed in cricket over the years, I won’t be surprised to see keepers doing this under similar circumstances. And even if it happens, MSD will remain as its Godfather.

What Dhoni did: Took one glove off thinking that he might have had to aim at the stumps. He didn’t care about whether he hurts himself in the process, which he actually did, but made sure that he saves half a second for his team. This is leadership at its very best.

That 15-yard Sprint in the Last Ball

 

What others would have done: Assuming that the keeper takes his glove off and the purpose for which he has done so comes into play, he would hardly think twice before having a shy at the stumps. And then if he misses the target anyhow, the match goes down to a super over. Or if the worst case turns out with the fielders not backing the throw up, the chasing team has the winning runs!

What Dhoni did: Dhoni knew that the batsman at the non-striker’s end would be on his way the moment Pandya delivers the ball, if not earlier. The 34-year old veteran had to beat the 20-year kid in pace and that too with the keeping pads on. The wicketkeeper didn’t throw the ball, he didn’t roll it stumpwards either. He just ran in like a sprinting gazelle to knock the stumps out of the ground with the ball in his hand and the youngster was well short of his crease. Really, age is just a number to the legends.

Despite his unmatched and splendid records both as a batsman and captain, India is perhaps the only country where MS Dhoni has more haters than fans, while all the other countries are dying to have a player like him. He has nothing else left to prove and last night’s match was one of the thousands of instances when he appeared to be the saviour of his nation. But even after this if you hate him; I dare say you are not an Indian. Admit it or not, we are damn lucky to have a player like him. The day this man retires, the whole nation will realize that there had never been and will never be another Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

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