Cricket Column: Courage of the man for all formats

Sports Monday 17/October/2016 15:36 PM
By: Times News Service
Cricket Column: Courage of the man for all formats

When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it, and this Paulo Coelho shot of optimism looked set for a pleasing repeat at Dharamsala on Sunday until MS Dhoni stepped out to hammer a ball tossed up by Mitchell Santner outside off stump, missed it, stood in the middle waiting for a response from Virat Kohli for a quick single as the ball hit the pad and rolled to cover before realising that Kohli wasn’t quick or keen and that it was all over.
At the non-striker’s end was, as Coelho would say, a man who has found his path and has sufficient courage to make mistakes.
Obviously, Kohli was sorry for his slow response that resulted in Dhoni’s run-out, but the courage he showed by not sacrificing his wicket for his skipper, was the sort of positivity and self-belief that would put a smile on many faces. Here’s the man for all formats for team India, the bloke who has found his path. He must not be afraid of making what looks like mistakes for the common, confused lot.
Dhoni got it all right for the better part of the day. He won the toss that helped him make the right call, though the decision to bowl first was never a result of a correct reading of the pitch. It was the dew factor in the hilltown that influenced Dhoni to bowl first, not the possibility that was waiting to happen for the Umesh Yadav and Hardik Pandya.
Dhoni’s gamble in handing the new ball to the debutant Pandya was the second piece in the plot that fell nicely and surprisingly into place. Pandya was hit for three fours in his first over, which was the second of the New Zealand innings, and another over like that would have put the spring back in Martin Guptill’s steps, but with the last ball of the over the destiny of the visitors was put on an incredibly ridiculous, but now so familiar, path.
Dhoni’s next gesture was even more outside the box. With New Zealand struggling at 57 for the loss of five top wickets, he called in Kedar Jadhav who has never bowled in an ODI match before, even as tried and tested options such as Amit Mishra and Axar Patel were waiting for their turn. Jadhav almost claimed a wicket in his fist over—James Neesham was lucky to survive the lbw shout off the last ball of the 17th over—and put the visitors on life support with two wickets in a row in his next over. That was the sort of brilliant, unconventional way of thinking which has been put to great effect by Dhoni throughout his career, and it looked like the skipper was about to recreate the old magic.
When Dhoni joined Kohli in the 20th over, the question was not about if the pair could do it, but about how they would do it. Dhoni eased himself into the role swiftly. An edgy but powerful six off the 14th ball he faced set the tone, a brutal square cut past extra cover off Tim Southee announced his intention, and at the end of the 26th over, India needed 44 runs from 24 overs, with Kohli just posting another 50 and Dhoni scoring a run-a-ball 19.
That was when Indian fans began visualising the end, and it was about who was going to do it: Kohli or Dhoni?
At the end of the 33rd over, India needed three runs to post an easy, guaranteed win, and Kohli hit the first ball of the next over straight over bowler Ish Sodhi to end the issue. If Southee had gathered the return catch Kohli offered off the third ball of the 28th over, or if Kohli had gone for a desperate dash in response to the mid-pitch dilemma Dhoni found himself in in the 29th over, the day wouldn’t have had the end it ultimately had had.
Dhoni and Kohli wanted something, so were we, and the universe conspired in helping one to achieve it. Fair enough. It’s the possibility, and the uncertainty, of having such a dream come true that makes life in the days of big-time cricket interesting.
The writer is a freelance contributor based in India. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman