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Dhoni salvages reputation

world Updated: May 16, 2007 04:06 IST
Akshay Sawai

One of the stranger sights of the World Cup was Mahendra Singh Dhoni almost 'walking' after an lbw appeal by Muttiah Muralitharan in the make-or-break match against Sri Lanka. It conveyed a resignation to fate, an inclination to flee the battlefield. It wasn't the Dhoni we knew.

On Tuesday, he took a step towards redemption. To India went the Grameenphone one-day series trophy against Bangladesh after the third match in Chittagong was cancelled due to a ground made soggy by rain. To Dhoni went the honour of being highest run-getter of the series and Man of the Series. It's not an achievement significant enough to wash off the World Cup stain. But Rahul Dravid's words on India's series win apply to Dhoni too. It is at least "a good way to start" the recovery.

Dhoni and India are happy enough, the hosts aren't. The rain prevented Bangladesh from making an attempt to restore some pride. Then, it also denied a fitting end to two fine chapters in Bangladesh cricket. Tuesday's ODI was coach Dav Whatmore's last and captain Habibul Bashar's last at home.

Dhoni is refreshing in a world that is generally careful he is not reluctant to reveal his feelings. If he is happy with his game, he says so. "I got the opportunity to bat up the order and I'm glad I proved myself," said Dhoni, who scored 91* and 36 batting at No. 3. He added that he was very "happy" with his Man of the Series award.

Dhoni also wanted to cleanse the wound of his ODI debut, which lasted one ball here in December 2004. "I made my debut here 26 months ago," the ever-smiling wicketkeeper said. "It wasn't a good start. I got run-out the first ball I faced. So I wanted to do something in this series."

After the first game, Rahul Dravid singled out Dhoni's ability to shift gears for special mention. Asked whether that was difficult, Dhoni replied, "Nothing's easy. But if I'm successful or have been successful at it, it gets easier the next time. You get familiar with the situation and the conditions."

Dravid also named Dhoni's batting, among other things, when asked what worked for India on the tour. "The way we came back in the first ODI after being five wickets down and some hundred runs away from the target, the partnership between Dhoni and Karthik… it was a huge thing for us," Dravid said. "It gave us confidence going into the second match.

"In the second ODI we bowled well... The spinners (Powar, Chawla) and the fast bowlers (Munaf, Zaheer) did well. Gautam Gambhir's batting was a plus too."

The Indian skipper also felt that Bangladesh would find things harder in the Tests, which begin here on Friday. "It'll be tough for them in the Tests," said Dravid. "They don't have that much experience."

Meanwhile, the Indian heavyweights who were out of the one-day squad but are in the Test team underwent a net session at the indoor facility here on Tuesday. Sachin Tendulkar, Anil Kumble, Sourav Ganguly and VVS Laxman worked on their game in the morning. Wasim Jaffer and Rajesh Pawar were also part of the group. The players reached Chittagong on Monday.