After the end of the fifteenth over, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was batting on 18 off 15 balls in the second T20I against South Africa. The strike-rate of a shadow over 100 is now a usual sight to see when the former India skipper bats. The 36-year old has made a habit of consuming too many balls at the start of innings and going for the kill towards the end. However, in recent times Dhoni has coped severe criticism due to his failure to end the innings strongly.
But Wednesday (February 21) saw Dhoni turning back the clocks with a scintillating batting display. The hard-hitting batsman woke up from his slumber and blew away the Proteas. By the time the innings ended, Dhoni had gone on to score 52 off just 28 balls. Riding on Dhoni’s whirlwind knock and Manish Pandey’s brilliant batting too, India scored 188 for 4.
Dhoni joined Pandey on the pitch in the 11th over when Andile Phehlukwayo dismissed Raina to leave India reeling at 90 for 4. The duo then took the matters in their own hands and batted India to a position of strength, India managed 55 runs off the last four overs to help India post a good total.
The effort from Dhoni and Pandey, however, went in vain in the end as the hosts went on to win the game by six wickets to level the series.
Speaking after the game, Pandey opened up on Dhoni’s late flourish, hailing his senior teammate as the best batsman lower down the order.
“I think Mahi woke up. (Laughs). It was his chance, he’s probably the best lower down the order,” he pointed out. “In the last couple of overs he looks to dominate and that’s what happens. He’s done that a number of times. I thought SA bowled fairly well. It’s just that a couple of inside edges went to the boundary and some really good shots by Mahi took us to 188. I think South Africa bowled fairly well today,” added Pandey who scored 79 not out.
On the other hand, Pandey reached his fifty off 33 balls and went on to finish on 79. The visitors scored a challenging 188 for 4 as Dhon
The 28-year-old also had a word of praise for South Africa wicketkeeper-batsman Heinrich Klaasen, who starred for the hosts. Klaasen slammed 69 off just 30 balls with the help of 3 fours and 7 sixes as the Proteas chased down the total with 8 balls remaining.
“It has been two years now. Even in the India A series we’ve played against him, he was part of South Africa A, he scored a 100 against us” Pandey recalled. “It didn’t really surprise me. I’ve seen a 100, I’ve seen the runs he’s got before, also in one of the ODIs he got (a) fair bit. It’s not very surprising because I’ve seen him and played with him for quite some time now. But it is good to see him bat the way he’s batting right now. That’s the way he plays in the A series. So it is good to see that.”
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