Second ODI against EnglandWednesday, January 16, 2013 - Kochi—Kochi, in tourist terms at least, is the gateway to the backwaters but India, 1-0 down in the ODI series with four to play, were in no mood to take that journey. MS Dhoni, impassioned not just with the bat but just as strikingly in every aspect of his captaincy, made that abundantly clear with every muscle flexed and every order barked and it was England who were sunk without trace in a 127-run defeat.
England’s pursuit of 286 always looked a daunting task and it became an improbable one from the moment that Bhuvneshwar Kumar removed Kevin Pietersen and Eoin Morgan in the space of three balls in an outstanding new-ball spell. There is nothing like a humid evening in Kochi to perk up a swing bowler and Bhuvneshwar, a 22-year-old from Uttar Pradesh playing in only his fifth ODI, also summoned impressive stamina as Dhoni ran his 10-over spell through without interruption and was rewarded with his best international figures of 3 for 29.
But the match had swung India’s way much earlier than that - and it was Dhoni, a captain deemed to be under pressure, and Ravindra Jadeja who were at the heart of it. England had sensed they held an element of control, at the very least, for much of India’s innings but 108 runs from the last 10 overs, 68 from the last five, shook that notion to the core.
As so often, Dhoni was left to plot a route to victory, wresting control from England’s attack with 72 from 66 balls. He creates his own virtuous circle, creating a febrile atmosphere and then feeding off it, in turn causing a crowd of around 70,000 to roar with even greater intensity. He fell four balls from the end of the innings when he sliced Dernbach to Joe Root at deep cover - a suitable end because Dernbach’s unwavering policy of bowling wide to him outside off stump had been England’s most effective counter.
India approached the last 10 overs in unconvincing shape, at 177 for 5, having been confounded in the batting Powerplay by the variations of Dernbach and Steven Finn, which conceded only 21 runs in five overs and dismissed their batting mainstay, Suresh Raina, in the process.
Dhoni had failed to manage India’s run chase in Rajkot, holing out at long-off against Dernbach’s slower ball. He received a near-replica in the closing overs but this time his hands were fast and his brain quicksilver and he muscled it well beyond the boundary rope. It was a statement about how things would be different this time.
What Dhoni stirred, Jadeja delivered, rounding things off by taking 14 from Dernbach’s last three deliveries to finish with an unbeaten 61 from 37 balls.—Agencies