The Bhuvneshwar Express
Bhuvneshwar Kumar didn’t have his customary tight start as Sri Lanka started off with a 4 in his first over, and then another in his second.
In his third over however, Bhuvi decided he had had enough and bowled some good length balls to finish with a maiden. It ended up being a wicket maiden too as he sent Tharanga packing.
The chief destroyer against India earlier in the series, Upal Tharanga was deceived by the angle and the ball took the inside edge of his bat which landed safely in Dhoni’s hands.
Thereon, he went on to take the 400-ODI man, Mahela Jayawardene’s wicket who too was eager to throw it away, edging a wide ball and getting caught by Ashwin in the slip. Sri Lanka were reduced to 49 for 2. Bhuvneshwar ended the match with figures of 8-4-24-2 and a Man of the Series trophy.
Of lost catches and opportunities
Many questioned MSD’s decision to send in Raina when other specialist bowlers were available. And doubts were raised when Raina dropped Sangakarra on 21 off his own bowling. The ball was hit straight towards the non striker’s end and could’ve been the end of the dangerous Sanga but Raina could not hold on.
Sangakarra was dropped again by the rusty skipper on 38 when a seemingly simple catch for someone of his repute was grassed by Dhoni.
Sangakarra went on to make 71, hitting Ishant all over the park. Finally, Ashwin managed to get the dangerous batsman out when Vinay Kumar took a stumbling catch at mid-on.
Presence of mind at work
Ravindra Jadeja polished off the tailenders as desserts on offer.
Rangana Herath’s stumping was the perfect example of Dhoni’s alertness. Herath tried to sweep the delivery and missed. MSD tried to stump him meanwhile but missed. But then, Herath, amidst all this chaos, lost his balance and moved forward. Opportunity knocked twice for MSD, and he stumped him on the second attempt.
An alert mind is what Ashwin shares too with MSD, only though when he’s not running on the field or between the wickets. A quick wit Ashwin paused before bowling the ball, thereby assessing what the batsman was going to do.
Kusal Perera failed to reach the ball turning away from him outside the off stump, made a fool of himself by coming down the track and Dhoni had the last laugh, stumping him.
Genius minds at work.
Hail Herath – or hell Herath?
Herath had a dream spell. After getting Rohit Sharma out on that delivery which kept extremely low, he went on to get two in two.
The first victim of the first ball of the 38th over was Ravindra jadeja. That ball, hitting jadeja on the back leg when he slumped forward, spelled the end of him. A disappointed Jadeja walked back dejected.
On the very next ball, the new batsman Ashwin on strike gave in far too easily, hit in front of leg stump with no evident footwork. Herath was making India work for those last 50 runs.
Coming into the game on after partially recovering from a hamstring injury, some rusty wicket keeping and dubious bowling decisions aside, it was Mahi way or the highway for Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
For the rest of the XI after the top order, they came, they faltered, and they threw away their wickets.
Dhoni was left with Ishant Sharma who possessed expertise in only a single skill – blocking.
With 20 runs needed off 22 deliveries, Ishant tried to take a run in order to give MS the strike for the last ball of Malinga’s over. Halfway down the pitch, MS yelled a big ‘Noooo’ and Ishant was really lucky to make it in time!
Even Captain Cool could not check his anger and chose to use some choicest expletives on Ishant. Virat’s influence rubbing off on Dhoni perhaps? But who could blame him when India were a wicket away from the loss.
In an example of more comical running, Ishant was again saved by a run-out in the 49th over.
15 runs were needed off the last over when a heavier bat, inexperienced bowler and Dhoni’s enduring calmness provided the finishing touches.
Dhoni missed the first delivery and hit the second one to square leg.
He then demolished even the last iota of confidence poor Eranga possessed with that 6. A huge, innings defining, chest thumping, establishing dominance-esque 6 was thwacked straight away off MSD’s bat over long-on!
He followed it up by a boundary and finished off the game with a six over extra cover. India had won the match as Dhoni roared again.
“I have a bit of cricket sensibility in me” – Mahendra Singh Dhoni. Thank god for that.