Thursday, March 24, 2016

T20 World Cup 2016 - India versus Bangladesh

It looked like both teams were trying hard to lose. Starting with India's tentative attempt to pile up a competitive total which failed (whatever we put up, 146, was again marshalled by Dhoni in the end) and ending with an unbelievable hara kiri by Bangladesh in the last three balls, both sides did everything possible to lose. Bangladesh seemed to have made less mistakes - until the last three deliveries when they just lost it. It's the kind of a match that will haunt them as much as Chetan Sharma's last ball haunted India for years and asked questions of whether we have the capacity to win at all. The two batsmen Rahim and Mahmudulla will carry memories of their temporary madness to the end of their lives and will surely wake up at nights wishing they had just done things differently, just held back. One feels for them but like Dhoni said, all finishers go through those phases and its learning. 

One man stood out head and shoulders above all. MSD. In his sheer power of consciousness he is unmatched. He sees things with such clarity, is always two steps ahead and thinking of ways to control outcomes when it is easiest to give up. It's unbelievable calmness under duress. So some of the most creative acts also came from Dhoni in this game. Be it finishing off all his prime bowlers and giving the crucial last over to a nervous Pandya who did a good job, an incredible stumping that should surely go down as one of the most aware pieces of work when he acted in a split second at the right moment, placing Raina and pressurising a dangerous Shakib to give a slip catch off Ashwin, impeccable field placements  that resulted in catches taken and boundaries being saved. The cherry on top was the way he ran out the last man - getting Pandya to bowl in the corridor and have the batsman miss playing the delivery, gathering the ball with one glove off and sprinting to the wicket, just beating the batsman in the sprint. It was clear that the batsman was reacting to MSD and Dhoni kind of led him on hypnotically - the batsman did not dive - mainly because I think he was reacting to MSS. Dhoni did not dive too. Highly unusual but so it is. 

The Bangladesh chase seemed to have many things in its favor. Bumrah's nervous flounder at fine leg to concede a boundary, then a dropped sitter by him again, then dropped catches from Ashwin and even Dhoni. You kind of felt that the Bangladeshi earned themselves a win since they did more things right than wrong. And then you realise that you can get 117 balls right but if you mess up on the crucial 3 deliveries you could take back a horrible feeling home. They did not speak to one another at the wicket surely, did not discuss the plan and merely succumbed to pressure. MSD meanwhile held long conversations and discussions and finally walked off victorious. I loved the way Jadeja held on to a difficult catch off Mahmudulla, preferring to latch on to the ball hard and take a hard fall and roll along uncontrollably, than relinquish his secure hold of the ball lest it slip out, on his hard fall. Or the way Virat Kohli moved into cover position from sweeper cover when the batsmen changed. Ashwin's fantastic over to the lefties Shakib and Soumya (who pulled off another incredible catch in this game too).

The sight of the inconsolable Bangladeshi fans was a sad sight. They had invested so much. But yes, hopefully they will all learn to hod back a bit and by doing that, get more out of the situation.

This could set the faltering Indian team back on track and now the team could believe they have a genuine chance of making the semis. Though Ashwin walked off with the man of the match award, my man for the award will be MSD. This win could not have been achieved by anyone else.


Anonymous said...

Nothing about that stumping ?

Harimohan said...

Hi Anon, I did mention the stumping as one of the most creative acts of MSDs that day. It's was an unbelievably aware, intuitive piece of work - not possible for most. Almost superhuman. But even that was nothing compared to the final sprint to break the stump - he could have recovered from the stumping but there was no recovering from the run out chance on the last ball. One wonders how he held his nerve till the end, what makes him back his ability so much. MSD did several little acts like that and kept the balance going till the end. He's like a music conductor, orchestrating and facilitating, creating beautiful music. Fantastic stuff.

Namrata Thakur said...

Seriously no alternative for #MSD #Indeed

Harimohan said...

Yes Namrata. He is one of a kind.