Mohali: While the Mohali ODI against Australia on Saturday will remain etched in the memory of the Indian team and fans for all the wrong reasons, one must stop and spare a thought for the quality of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s batting at the PCA Stadium.
He burst on to the international scene with a reputation for clearing the longest of boundaries at will, but Dhoni’s unbeaten 139 showed that his willingness to spend endless hours at the training ground to mould himself into the ultimate batsman in ODIs was the best thing he could’ve done for the team.
It wasn’t a completely batsman-friendly wicket and the Australian bowlers used the conditions beautifully till Dhoni walked into the middle in the 14th over.
Dhoni wielded the willow like a wounded man would wield a sword to protect his family in the face of danger.
He was hurt – having strained his ankle the moment he walked into the middle – but even that couldn’t stop him.
While he was in damage control mode to start with — as India were tottering at 76 for four — he bided his time and tore into the Aussies like a marauder.
The limp didn’t stop him from running the quick singles and converting the ones into twos when Virat Kohli was going great guns at the other end as the two stitched a 72-run partnership.
Having relied mostly on singles till the 43rd over, Dhoni went on a rampage thereafter to finish with 139 off 121 balls.
The helicopter shot off the third ball off the last over was a reminder of his aggressive, innovative self for all those who thought the brutal Dhoni has been taken over by a smart grafter.
Little did he know that on the day, his magical effort would be reduced to a sideshow by one over from Ishant Sharma — a man whom he had backed to the hilt but who ultimately let him down.
Reproduced from Mail Today. Copyright 2013. MTNPL. All rights reserved.