“I think I am blessed with a bit of good cricketing sense.”
– Ms Dhoni (in the post-match presentation.)
It’s not only about understanding the tricky corners of the game and having the brightest knowledge of how to move it on; but it also how to cope with the pressure. Doing something extra-ordinary in your backyard and repeating the same feat games after games, when you are on the captaincy shoes with the world is having an eye on you, people tend to be cooked up and fail. Add a bit of hamstring injury to the cause just to acknowledge the physical and mental texture of the situation.
India was going through a golden period:
It wasn’t the World Cup stage but still has few reasons to grab all the attention and grow up its glory. Just around a month, India had been crowned as the ICC Champions Trophy Winner (2013) and they were taking on their neighbor Sri-Lanka in the Caribbean Tri-series final with the latter is being rubbed by the salt in the past occasions whether it was the 2011 World Cup Final or the 2012 Hobart ODI in the recent history. The memories were fresh but what the game produces is a new chance.
One of the significant changes would find out in the team sheet was Ms Dhoni, who elected to bowl first unexpectedly on a pitch that was going to be slow down later, was back in the side after being half-recovered from the hamstring injury he picked up during the first match. It was not an ideal start for the Lankans as Bhuvi Kumar became successful in bringing the inside edge of Tharanga to draw the first blood.
Sangakara provided Sri-Lanka something:
Jayawardene did play some gorgeous shots hitting over the straight boundaries but he was too trapped by the same bowler when he found the lone slip Ashwin to see his team losing the momentum as the scorecard read 49/2. One thing that really mattered in those conditions is experience and Sangakara being joined by Thirimane knew that all those winning scores in these series was around 230 to 250 mostly; so, it was all about stitching a partnership.
And they stitched it perfectly; singles and doubles were slowly making it really tough for the Indians with the odd boundary was throwing some weight to it. Soo, Kumar Sangakara reached to its 77th ODI fifty; just telling on how many instances did he save his side from the downfall.
Thirimane trying to reach the same milestone hit a short ball straight to mid off in the bowling off Ravindra Jadeja, who was introduced so late in the innings even after Kohli and Raina. Still, they could reach where they aimed at. But, the train got off the track.
The Jadeja show ran through the rest of the batters as Sri-Lanka lost their last 8-wickets for just 30-runs in about 11-overs. No one carried themselves into the double figures except the top-5 and the extras (23). The left-arm Rajkot boy might have asked a few questions to his skipper about the reason of introducing him too late in the innings. It also spelled out how effective that 122-run partnership was to take the Island to 201.
The job was half-done on a 22-yard that was expected to be slow down might play some tricks.
India struggled early in the chase:
Just when Dhawan seemed to have got his hands, he received an unplayable delivery from Eranga with Kohli nicked off the same bowler to go back to the pavilion with India struggling early at 27/2. New man Dinesh Karthik jogged on to the middle; he with Rohit Sharma started slowly but gained the speed later to bring the 50-run stand. As soon as they reached there, another left-armer, Rangana Herath got the Chennai boy to a ball that bounced a bit extra to find the edge to Jayawardene at slip.
Suresh Raina walked up next to the crease and appeared to have read the track better than anyone else as he scored so freely to bring up the 62-run partnership in just around 8-overs. The momentum shifted towards the blue brigade as Rohit brought his personal half-century but the game saw the fortunes swung back so many times. A Herath delivery stayed so much low, as if it would roll down with the base and hit the middle stump to shut the 58-run knock.
India were limping to end the chase:
Raina followed him soon as a rush lofted drive failed to connect fully and he got himself caught in the hands of Sangakara. Just like Jadeja, Herath ran through the lower order in the blink of an eye as India stunned at 167-8. A terrible shot by R Vinay Kumar ever after observing his leader at the other end was out of everyone’s calculation.
They went further down at 182-9.
The caios started to be born as Ishant Sharma almost got run-out couple of times. As the last over began, India required 15 to win and for Sri-Lanka, Eranga had to defend 14 or a Dhoni mistake or a brilliance in the field would fell the curtains on the hopes of billions of Indians.
Dhoni did what he does:
The Indian captain smashed the 2nd delivery straight over the bowler’s head for six runs. A bit of pressure released. Still, one wrong foot to lose. The next ball was sliced up towards the third man region for a boundary. He then launched the next delivery over the long-off to seal an unbelievable victory for his team.
The whole Queen’s Park Oval in Trinidad got on their feet as the Indians made a mad rush to the ground. Hugs, celebration and dancing steps kicked off before the cameras. “Magnificent Mahendra.” Ian Bishop recognized on air “He is unbelievable in so many ways.” The new sunrise in Indian found their old hero scripting another blinder from the jaws of the opponents.
The champions had justified all the legacies before the cricketing planet. No one will arrange the plate; you have to serve it on your own.
Brief Scores: –
Sri-Lanka- 201 in 48.5overs (Kumar Sangakara- 71, Ravindra Jadeja- 4/23) lost to India– 203/9 in 49.4overs (Rohit Sharma- 58, Ms Dhoni-45*, Rangana Herath- 4/20) by 1-wicket.
Man of the Match- Ms Dhoni.
Man of the Series- Bhuvneshwar Kumar.