Even the bails conspired to ensure that Dhoni’s innings wasn’t cut short on a night when he once again showed the world that he might be past his prime, but he is still the best India have got when it comes to snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. To make matters worse for his reputation, Bhuvneshwar Kumar (53*) also outscored him, but then, had Dhoni (45*) not held one end up, Sri Lanka would have definitely roared home. In the end, it was the unbeaten 100-run partnership between the two that saw the Indians end up on the victorious side.
Yes, this Sri Lankan bowling is not even close to being among the best, but then, these very bowlers, especially Dananjaya took six wickets in a spell which saw him bag Rohit Sharma (54), Kedar Jadhav (1), Virat Kohli (4), KL Rahul (4) and Hardik Pandya (0). The Lankans definitely had the match in the bag with the score reading 131/7 when Dhoni was joined by Bhuvneshwar.
Sri Lanka were on top and the 109-run partnership between Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan (49) at the top of the innings didn’t really seem to have any bearing as Danajaya was on a roll and picking wickets in every over. But that is when Dhoni decided to remind the world that the strokes might have given way, but not the acumen. He struggled, the turning ball didn’t help either. But Dhoni was a man on a mission and there were two things he needed to ensure. Firstly he needed to hold one end up and second he needed to ensure that Bhuvneshwar did not throw his wicket away.
With critics breathing down his throat and even the chief national selector — MSK Prasad — making it clear that Dhoni’s position in the team was being evaluated with every passing innings, Dhoni showed the world why exactly skipper Kohli still believes Dhoni is the man for India both behind the stumps and in crunch situations. In the end, Dhoni held fort and let Bhuvneshwar express himself as India won with three wickets in the bag.
Matters were only helped by the fact that the super-fast start at the top of the innings meant that Dhoni and Bhuvneshwar could buy their time and not fret about the required run-rate.
Earlier, it was Jasprit Bumrah who stole the show with the ball as he finished with four wickets and helped restrict the hosts to just 236/8 in their 50 overs. Things could have been worse for the Lankans had it not been for the partnership between Milinda Siriwardana (58) and Chamara Kapugedera (40). But it was Bumrah who had the last laugh as he finished with figures of 4/43 from his 10 overs. He was well supported by Yuzvendra Chahal (2/43) in the wickets column.
Angelo MathewsBhuvneshwar KumarDananjayaIndia vs Sri lankaIndia vs Sri Lanka 2017MS Dhonirohit sharmashikhar dhawanvirat kohli
First Published: August 25, 2017, 8:46 AM IST