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3-min read

Let's Talk About Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav and India's Final 10 Overs Against England in World Cup

A master of crunch situations, Dhoni was once again around to take charge and unleash himself. But it did not happen.

Anurag Verma | News18.com

Updated:July 1, 2019, 1:45 PM IST
Let's Talk About Dhoni, Kedar Jadhav and India's Final 10 Overs Against England in World Cup
Photo by Andrew Boyers / Reuters.

"I don't have an explanation for that. You asked me the question but 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," a puzzled Sourav Ganguly, seated in the commentary box, said to Nasser Hussain.

The stage was set for perhaps the best finisher in the game of cricket to take India past the finishing line as Kohli's side needed 104 in 10 overs, chasing England's big total of 338.

A master of crunch situations, Dhoni was once again around to take charge and unleash himself. But it did not happen.

The veteran stuck around, scoring at his own pace, reading the pitch and the bowlers for too long - something that had put him on the receiving end during his stay in the middle against Afghanistan and West Indies.

But the past was forgotten and the anger that came the 37-year-old cricketer's way fortunately shoved under the carpet, thanks to India winning on both the aforementioned occasions amd successfully saving the day for both Dhoni and the Men in Blue.

Rishabh Pant, who made his big World Cup debut in Sunday's clash, could only do much with the bat and his wobbly innings was brought to an end by the returning pacer Liam Plunkett.

Unlike the struggling middle order batsmen, there was one man who played a different game altogether. Hardik Pandya's positive body language inspired some confidence and the all-rounder played a promising knock, constantly trying to lessen the gap between the target and the ball. But his departure from play at 44.5 overs after scoring 45 in 33 when India were at 267/5, however, changed matters for the worse.

With five overs remaining, India still needed to get 71 runs. However, the team seemed to lose interest in the game itself - the team donning the orange jersey wasn't playing to win anymore but almost mechanically playing out their designated 50 overs.

The dissipated and uninspired performance of the team made even loyalists and Indian fans turn to the internet for comfort. Nevertheless, millions remained glued to their screens for a miracle. A Dhoni show. A show Edgbaston wasn't screening last night.

Not only did Dhoni and Jadhav struggle to make meaty contact with the ball, but whenever they did, they were content in pushing for ones at twos at a stage when the required run-rate was climbing off the roof.

The partnership managed to fetch 39 in the final 31 balls, that included 20 singles and seven dot deliveries. The only six in the entire Indian innings came off Dhoni's bat in the last over when the match was already a lost cause.

What were they thinking? With five wickets still in hand, were they only playing to keep their Net Run Rate high on the points table and not for a win?

The answer lay in their shot selection and the situation baffled everyone.

Former English captain Nasser Hussain who was commentating alongside Ganguly failed to understand Dhoni's approach in the death overs.

"I am completely baffled. What's going on! This is not what India needed. They need runs. What are they doing? Some Indian fans are leaving now. Surely they must want to see Dhoni go for his shots, even if he slogs it off in the air. It's a World Cup game, top two sides, give it a go! Indian fans would want their side to do a little bit more. They want their side to go down with a fight. Risk it to win it," said Hussain.

Were fans really expecting too much out of Dhoni? Probably. Were they wrong in doing so? Not really. A player of Dhoni's calibre has managed to snatch some sensational victories from the claws of defeat. So it's not surprising that expectations were running high, specially during the World Cup when the team needed a miracle.

After losing KL Rahul early for a duck, Rohit Sharma and skipper Virat Kohli played observantly and took their time to assess the conditions. India managed to put up only 28/1 in their first 10 overs.

The two did shift gears eventually as they once again piled up crucial runs to the scoreboard but it was Dhoni's unusual approach that left millions scratching their heads.

When Pakistan was struggling in their run chase against Afghanistan, lower-order "batsman" Wahab Riaz threw his bat around and added invaluable 15 off 9 runs to the scoreboard and helped Imad Wasim and his team from a probable upset against Gulbadin's spirited men.

But Riaz came out with only one intent. The full-time bowler and part-time batsman had victory on his mind. Something all of us failed to see in Dhoni and Jadhav on Sunday.

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