Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s swansong as captain ends with defeat vs England
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s final match as limited overs skipper of an Indian team ended in defeat as India A lost by three wickets to England at the Brabourne stadium.cricket Updated: Jan 10, 2017 22:23 IST
Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s captaincy swansong ended in defeat on Tuesday after England XI won by three wickets in the first of two one-day games against India A at the Brabourne Stadium. (HIGHLIGHTS)
However, England’s morale-boosting victory ahead of the limited-overs series didn’t matter one bit for the boisterous Mumbai crowd, which was effusive in expressing its love for the man who has just signed off as India skipper.
Put in to bat, India A scored 304 for five and England XI finished on 307/7 in 48.5 overs.
All focus was on Dhoni. With 10 overs left in the India ‘A’ innings, Ambati Rayudu, who scored 100, and Yuvraj Singh, who hit 56, were going strong. But once Rayudu, who is not in the ODI or T20 squads, got to his hundred, chants of ‘Dhoni, Dhoni’ resumed.
Rayudu retired and as Dhoni made his way to the middle, going through his routine of loosening his shoulders and strapping on his gloves, the noise in the ground reached fever pitch.
The crowd of around 15,000 had trooped in to watch a vintage Dhoni and he didn’t disappoint, hitting a 40-ball, unbeaten 68.
Every shot off Dhoni’s blade got huge response. He smashed Chris Woakes’ final over for 23 runs, including two sixes and two fours, taking the hosts past 300.
In the end, it wasn’t enough to stop the visiting side. Left-arm paceman Ashish Nehra, back in an India jersey after the World T20 last year, found the going tough in his first major outing since he suffered a serious injury during IPL 2016.
After three tidy overs where he gave away just 18 runs, Nehra conceded 15 runs in his fourth over, which included a six and two fours by opener Jason Roy.
Dhoni brought him back in the 36th over, but he continued to leak runs, going for 50 runs in six overs.
Left-arm Chinaman bowler Kuldeep Yadav though flummoxed the England batsmen with his variations, claiming a five-wicket haul.
After removing Alex Hales (40) and Jason Roy (62) in consecutive overs, Yadav dismissed Jos Buttler (46) and Moeen Ali (0) in the space of three balls to leave England reeling at 191/5.
However, the sixth-wicket partnership between Sam Billings (93) and Liam Dawson put England on the recovery path. It could have been broken had Yuvraj had got both his hands to a powerful reverse sweep by Billings on 84 off Yadav. He finally got his fifth wicket by dismissing Dawson for 41, ending a 99-run stand.
When Hardik Pandya bowled Billings in the 47th over, the game was in balance. But Woakes’ two consecutive fours in the 49th over sealed the match.
India though will be happy that the other senior pro, Yuvraj, too fired with the bat. Dropped by wicketkeeper Jos Buttler on one, the left-hander looking to make his ODI return after three years was hit on the helmet by Jake Ball off the sixth delivery he faced.
Yuvraj struggled initially, but once he found the momentum, it was hard to stop him. England leg-spinner Adil Rashid’s loose deliveries were not spared. The two sixes down the ground in Rashid’s eighth over were enough for England skipper Eoin Morgan to take him off the attack.
Yuvraj mixed power with timing when he slammed a full delivery from Woakes past the mid-on fielder and hit him past cover. A mistimed pull off Ball brought an end to the innings.
Opener Shikhar Dhawan, also on an injury comeback, too slammed a strokeful 63. He started cautiously before launching into his trademark drives and cuts.
Rayudu (100 – 97 balls, 11x4, 1x6) got a thrilling ton in his first match after getting injured on the Zimbabwe tour in June last year.