BIRMINGHAM: What the packed Edgbas-ton stadium witnessed in the penultimate over of the India-England match was unusual and rather baffling. Jofra Archer bowled one at fifth stump line, giving enough room for M. S. Dhoni to free his arms, but he chose to dab it down to point for a single, much to the disappointment of the fans. It’s not every day that crowd starts trickling out with one over left and Dhoni in the middle. The fans were so frustrated that they had to show their displeasure.
Nasser Hussain, who was calling the match, couldn’t understand what Dhoni was trying to do. “At least, give it a go for the fans,” he said on air. Sourav Ganguly, his co-commentator, didn’t have an explanation either.
When Dhoni walked in, at 226 for 4 in the 40th over, India needed 112 runs. Dhoni made an unbeaten 42 off 31 balls, but showed no intent in chasing down the target, especially in the last five overs when they required 71. The last five overs saw Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav collecting 20 singles and playing out six dot balls.
Sachin Tendulkar had promptly pointed out the issue when the same pair were involved in a similar uninspiring partnership against Afghanistan. It was the turn of another former India skipper, Ganguly, on Sunday. “I can’t explain these singles. It’s also the length and the bounce that has deceived the Indian batsmen. You can’t be chasing 338 and still have five wickets in the end. It’s about mindset and the way you look at the game,” Ganguly said.
It has become a routine for captain Virat Kohli to back the under-fire Dhoni at post-match interactions. He tried hard to defend him on Sunday. “It’s up to discussions with the two guys who were in there. I think MS was trying really hard to get the boundary but it wasn’t coming off. England bowled in good areas and the ball was stopping, hence it was difficult to bat towards the end. We have to sit and assess and improve on things in the next game,” said Kohli.
Vice-captain Rohit Sharma, too, chose to compliment England’s “clever bowling” and blame the pitch. “When MS and Kedar were batting, I think they were trying to hit, but they were not able to because of the slowness of the pitch. Towards the end, it got pretty slow. You’ve got to give credit to the English team because they used the conditions really well. They mixed up their variation quite nicely and kept us guessing all through the game,” he added.