The first ball of the 33rd over after drinks from Hyderabad left-arm spinner Mehedi Hasan skidded from good length and went through MS Dhoni’s defence surprising the Jharkhand skipper who looked down the wicket for a while before walking back. The dismissal dealt Jharkhand’s hopes of successfully chasing 204 a body blow. Dhoni made 28 off 47 balls with three boundaries.
“There was nothing anyone could have done with that ball; it just didn’t rise. But you can’t really blame the wicket because only one delivery behaved that way,” said Jharkhand coach Rajiv Kumar.
That delivery, late on Friday afternoon, also ensured that most of those at Jadavpur University’s Salt Lake campus ground could return to their chores. The fencing on one side of the ground looked like it would give when Dhoni was in the middle.
The 21-run loss --- despite Saurabh Tiwari’s 102 --- also dented Jharkhand’s hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Vijay Hazare Trophy. This was Dhoni’s team’s second loss in five games. They end the first phase against Jammu and Kashmir in Kalyani, some 52 km from Kolkata, on Monday. Dhoni will play on Monday, said Kumar.
Like it has been in all but one game so far, Jharkhand’s top order floundered and Dhoni found himself in the middle by the 18th over. He survived a loud shout for leg-before off leggie Akash Bhandari off the first ball.
Again, like it has been through this tournament, Dhoni scratched around but the shooter scotched hopes of a final flourish. He had shared a 70-run stand with Tiwari and it looked like they were pulling Jharkhand out of trouble.
Tiwari did score a century but struggling with cramps, he too couldn’t take Jharkhand to what looked like a gettable target. Tiwary made 102 off 104 balls with five fours and seven sixes.