Mahendra Singh Dhoni might have relinquished the captaincy earlier this year but it seems the only change it has done in his duty that he is no more allowed to go to the toss. Barring that, the World Cup-winning skipper has been in thick of actions. From giving tips to his successor Virat Kohli to placing fielders, Dhoni has not shied away from making decisions and guiding the team on the field.
Well, the former India skipper was once again instrumental from behind the stumps when India found itself under pressure in the first One-Day International against Australia on Sunday (September 17). Chasing a revised target of 164 in 24 overs, Australia were losing their way before they clawed their way back into the game for a brief period when Glenn Maxwell slammed 22 runs off the 11th over bowled by Kuldeep Yadav.
As a result of that onslaught, Australia’s hopes were revived as the required rate, which was close to 11 came down to 9. However, with Maxwell threatening to run away with the game, Dhoni came to India’s rescue as his constant tips from behind the stumps helped Yuzvendra Chahal to dismiss the hard-hitting Aussie. In fact, Dhoni had a hand in almost all the five wickets that Chahal and Kuldeep took and turned the match in India’s favour.
“Woh maarne wala dalna, andar ya baahar koi bhi (Bowl the one that he tries to hit, turning in or away, either is fine)”. Or the more specific “Woh ghoomane waalaaa (the one that turns)”, were some of the commands from one of the most successful captains of all time.
Dhoni’s mastery was in full display when Maxwell was taking Kuldeep to the cleaners. The Australia star missed the first ball of the 11th from Kuldeep while going for the switch-hit. Kuldeep followed it up by bowling a poor delivery down the leg side and was duly punished as Maxwell dispatched it for a boundary. In the meantime, Dhoni asked the spinner to toss the ball up and wide. However, the 22-year old ignored the tip from his senior teammate and bowled a tossed-up leg spinner on middle stump. The result- a huge six. Worried after conceding two consecutive boundaries and with Dhoni reiterating to bowl full and wide, the left-arm spinner bowled full but ended up bowling to the middle stump line. It too went for a six and as the ball was travelling, Dhoni was quick to vent his frustration, saying:“Na, na, na. Isko itna aage nahi (Not this full too).”
The following delivery was also hit for a six, compelling Dhoni to run up to the inexperienced bowler and give him some tips. Kuldeep ended his over with a googly and fortunately Maxwell failed to make any connection with it.
Yuzvendra Chahal then came to bowl the next over and Dhoni gave him the same instruction. Chahal bowled successive dots to Maxwell with deliveries full and wide outside off with Dhoni giving his approval from behind the stumps. On the next delivery, Chahal made the mistake of following the stumps and ended up conceding a six.
However, Chahal paid heed to Dhoni’s advise and bowled one outside off. Maxwell ended up miscuing it and was caught at long-on, paving the way for India’s 21-run win.