The man with the Midas touch in Indian cricket wielded his magic wand once again. With Bangladesh needing 11 in the last over in the ICC T20 World Cup 2016 Super 10 encounter between India and Bangladesh, Indian skipper MS Dhoni handed the ball to Hardik Pandya, who is relatively unproven in the international circuit.
It was kind of a deja vu for the Indian fans as Dhoni did something similar 9 years ago in the final of the inaugural edition of the T20 World Cup in 2007 when he handed the ball to a certain Joginder Sharma. Pakistan required 13 runs in the last over in that game. Joginder proved to be the hero that day as he helped India snatch a win from the jaws of defeat.
Dhoni wound back the clock yesterday as he picked Pandya to bowl the all-important last bowler and Pandya proved his captain’s decision right by winning the game for India. He conceded 10 runs in the last over as India unbelievably beat Bangladesh in a thriller.
Dhoni has this uncanny habit of creating heroes out of nowhere, and he is someone who always backs youngsters to the hilt. He has been singing praises about Pandya’s talent since the Asia Cup, supporting him throughout.
The last two overs
In the last two overs, Bangladesh had two experienced batsmen at the crease. Mushfiqur and Mahmudullah were going well and Bangladesh were cruising at that stage. Dhoni had Jasprit Bumrah and Pandya to bowl the last two overs, and the youngsters did a commendable job.
“I think it was quite an easy decision,” Dhoni said about his picks.
He said that the batsmen were scoring quite freely at that point of time. He knew that he had to get one over from somebody, whether it was a spinner or Pandya. Dhoni also said that what was important at that juncture was to make a game out of it.
That’s when he decided to use a proper bowler for the penultimate bowler, and he opted for Bumrah. Bumrah bowled brilliantly as he conceded only 6 runs in that over.
“There were quite a few options [for the 20th over]. There was Yuvraj Singh, there was Suresh Raina, Hardik Pandya was there.” Dhoni said about his choice for the last over. He added, “You say ‘whatever runs you save, it keeps mounting [pressure] in the last over’.”
Then Dhoni opted for Pandya and had a long chat with him.
“We were just discussing what can be a good length to bowl, whether to go for yorkers. If you are looking for the yorker, then [whether] you want to bowl at the stumps or wide outside off.” Dhoni said. He also said that Pandya executed the plan well and praised him for that.
Dhoni also backed Bumrah who was having a terrible day in the field. He had dropped a sitter of Tamim Iqbal and then conceded 16 runs in the subsequent over. However, Bumrah lifted his performance as his last two overs were absolutely crucial in the context of the game. Dhoni advised the young bowler to focus on what he can do rather than thinking about what had already happened.
The skipper accepted that the game offered many challenges to the youngsters and that the youngsters need such games to propel themselves to the next level.