Former India National Cricket Team fielding coach R Sridhar has shared an incident in his recently published book ‘Coaching Beyond: My Days with the Indian Cricket Team’ where Ravi Shastri was furious at MS Dhoni for his sluggish knock in an ODI match.
Sridhar was referring to the second ODI of the three-match series between India and England, which was part of India’s all-format tour of England in 2018 that consisted of three T20Is, three ODIs and five Tests.
In the second ODI at Lord’s in London, England batted first and posted 322/7 with the help of Joe Root’s incredible 113 runs off 116 balls. Also, Eoin Morgan and David Willey registered good half-centuries.
Chasing the target, Indian openers – Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan – got out inside 10 overs and KL Rahul got out for a duck in the 11th over. Then, captain Virat Kohli had a good 80-run stand with Suresh Raina, but both the players got out in their 40s also Hardik Pandya got out for just 21.
In the end, MS Dhoni was left alongside the tailenders and India needed 133 runs from 66 balls to seal the win. The legendary wicketkeeper-batter Dhoni batted with a poor approach that baffled many and he got dismissed by Liam Plunkett in the 47th over. He scored 37 runs off 59 balls, before getting out and India lost the game by a huge margin of 86 runs.
Dhoni’s sluggish 37-run knock, however, helped him reach the 10,000 ODI runs mark. He had become just the second wicket-keeper to reach the milestone after Kumar Sangakkara and was the third oldest to complete the 10,000 ODI runs landmark at 37y 007d. At that time, Dhoni had become the 5th fastest to complete the milestone as he took 273 innings and he was only the 4th Indian to score 10,000 ODI runs after Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid.
“Wanted to know why MS Dhoni hadn’t made even a token attempt at the target ” – R Sridhar
Recalling the match, Sridhar revealed that the coaching staff was curious to know from MS Dhoni why had he played with poor intent while chasing the target in the match.
“We were in the hunt when Virat and Suresh Raina were batting, but as we lost wickets, MS was left with only the bowlers for the company going into the last 10 overs. Uncharacteristically, he shut shop, and even though our required rate in the last 10 was nearly 13 an over, we only managed some 20 runs in the next six overs. That was the innings when MS got to 10,000 ODI runs a very significant milestone. We were all thrilled for him, but we also wanted to know why he hadn’t made even a token attempt at the target,” Sridhar wrote.
R Sridhar further revealed that Ravi Shastri was not disappointed because India had lost the match but was rather furious at the manner Dhoni approached the run-chase and gave up without even putting up a fight.
Sridhar recalled a team meeting before the final ODI and stated that the former India head coach Shastri was “at his loudest and fiercest” while giving the speech and although he was addressing the team, his words were directed straight at MS Dhoni.
“Ravi, meanwhile, was seething. He was furious not because we lost by 86 runs, but how we lost the game, how we went down without putting up a fight. We didn’t go for the target, we didn’t go down throwing a punch, we just went down tamely The head coach wasn’t going to let that one sail harmlessly by,” he added.
“The decider was in Headingley, and we had a team meeting the previous day. The entire squad was in attendance, including all members of the support staff, and I knew Ravi was going to make a strong point.
“He was at his loudest and fiercest as he said, ‘No matter who you may be, there should not be another occasion when we lose a match not trying to win it. It will not happen under my watch. And if anyone does it, that will be the last bloody game of cricket they will play under my watch. You can lose a cricket game, no shame in that, but you will not lose like this.
“MS was sitting right there in the front, and while Ravi’s words were meant for the team, his eyes were trained on MS. To the former skipper’s great credit, he didn’t flinch, he never broke eye contact with Ravi. He didn’t look here and there or fidget because one of his many admirable qualities is his ability to take the knocks, especially when he knows in his heart of hearts that he deserves them.”
Talking about the India tour of England 2018, India won the T20I series by 2-1 while losing the ODI series by 1-2 and the Test series by 1-4.