Cool cat Dhoni behind India’s Tri-nation triumph in Caribbean


By Kersi Meher-Homji

What a grand victory for India in Port-of-Spain, winning the exciting Final by one wicket with just two balls remaining! Just as well that MS Dhoni was fit for this epic match as he guided India to victory by his cool temperament. After defending and protecting no. 11 batsman Ishant Sharma for three pulsating overs, Dhoni ended the match by hitting 6, 4 and 6.
Give him crisis and Dhoni scales Mount Everest.
Oddly, India started the Tri-nation series poorly losing to the hosts West Indies and Sri Lanka but improved spectacularly to trounce the same teams by big margins.
This enabled them to enter the Final at Port of Spain to meet Sri Lanka. It was their second successive Final within three weeks.
But there was a difference. In England they had cruised unbeaten in the Champions Trophy in June. It was quite different in the Caribbean in June-July. To come back after losing two matches demonstrated their strength of character.
Especially as they were caned by Sri Lanka by 161 runs a week before the epic Final. Just look at the scores. Sri Lanka smashed Indian bowlers to amass 1 for 348, openers Upul Tharanga (174 not out) and Mahela Jayawardene (107) putting on 213 runs.
Not dispirited by this thrashing, India defeated the West Indies by a convincing margin of 102 runs thanks to the emergency skipper Virat Kohli’s brilliant century.
Buoyed by this victory, India beat Sri Lanka by 81 runs on Duckworth Lewis rule to qualify for the Final. On a seaming pitch opener Rohit Sharma batted superbly to score an unbeaten 48 as India made 3-119 in 29 overs.
The rain made the pitch more difficult for the Lankan bats and they were dismissed for 96. Fast-medium bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar was almost unplayable with impressive figures of 6-1-8-4.
What a contrast! Sri Lanka had amassed 1-348 against India on 2 July. Against the same opponent, they were dismissed for 96 a week later. Cricket incredible cricket!
Now to the epic nail-biting Final in Port-of-Spain. Back from injury, Dhoni won the toss and sent Sri Lanka in to bat. They started well, being 2-171 at one stage with Kumar Sangakkara touching form with 71 but then spinner Ravindra Jadeja struck crippling blows.
He captured 4 for 23 and SL lost their last eight wickets for only 30 runs to be dismissed for 201.
Rohit Sharma played another gallant innings of 58 but the rest crumbled on a pitch with some juice. Needing 202 to win, India was 9-182, now 20 runs to win in 20 balls. Fortunately for India, cool cat captain Dhoni was still there.
Ice, rather than blood, must be flowing through his veins as he blocked balls taking singles to protect the tall tail-ender Ishant.
Came the final over with 15 runs needed for victory. No worries, Dhoni said as he smashed 6, 4 and 6 off successive deliveries from Eranga and India won by one wicket.
He was the obvious Man of the Match with fast-medium bowler Bhuvneshwar Kumar the Player of the Series. Bhuvneshwar had taken 10 wickets in the series at an excellent average of 9.70.
The future of Indian cricket appears rosy with the Under-19 India winning the Under-19 tournament in Darwin on 12 July.

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