MS Dhoni played an uncharacteristic slow innings during India’s 86-run defeat in the second ODI against England at Lord’s on Saturday (July 14).
Renowned for his swashbuckling style, Dhoni, came out at number six at the end of the 27th over with India 140-4 while chasing 323. However, he played 31 dot balls in his 59-ball 37 as the required run-rate rocketed upwards. The wicketkeeper-batsman managed to hit only two boundaries in his innings whereas his strike-rate was 62.71.
While Dhoni is receiving a lot of flak from the cricket fans and pundits for his turtle-paced knock, former India skipper Sunil Gavaskar has come out in support of the veteran campaigner, saying that the struggle was understandable because he was confronted with an impossible situation.
“Dhoni's struggle was understandable because when confronted with an impossible situation, the options get limited and the mind becomes negative. Then all the good shots go straight to the fielder to add to the dot balls and the pressure becomes too much. Dhoni's struggle reminded me of my most infamous innings at the same venue,” Gavaskar wrote in his column for TOI on Tuesday (July 17).
The star-studded Indian batting line-up slumped to 60-3 despite a 49-run opening stand between Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan at Lord’s. And Gavaskar feels that particular phase was the turning point of the game.
“He [Rohit] went for a wild slog, missed and was bowled. If that was a regular shot, then it would be understandable, but it was across the line which is what he seldom does. The loss of the previous game's centurion is always a big boost to the opposition. They got a further boost when Dhawan, who is batting well, but a tad carelessly, chased a widish one and was caught at backward point when India needed a stabilizing partnership. Rahul too has to get his thought process right. The century he scored a few days back was as good as one could hope to see, but in every new innings, a batsman starts at zero and so has to get used to the pitch before he can start playing shots,” Gavaskar pointed out.
He also mentioned that without Bhuvaneshwar Kumar and Jasprit Bumrah, the Indian bowling looks a bit thin and the English batters took a full toll of it at Lord’s.
“India have made life a touch hard for them by losing the second ODI at Lord's. On a pitch that had little for the bowlers, the Indians were taken for plenty especially in the last ten overs and that is where the game slipped out of their hands. Without Bhuvaneshwar and Bumrah, the final overs are generally a free for all for the opposition batsmen and David Willey played some bold strokes to take England to 322 when they should have been restricted to under 300,” the batting legend remarked.
Gavaskar, however, is confident that the Men in Blue can turn it around in the series-deciding third ODI at Leeds.
“There is no need to panic though as India can turn it around with some disciplined bowling and building partnerships while batting. What Lord's has shown though is that England are the No. 1 side for a reason and that India will have to lift their game to win the series,” Sunil Gavaskar concluded.