'Dhoni asked 'Thakega toh nahi?' I said 'If I do, carry me out on a stretcher'' | Crickit
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'Dhoni asked 'Thakega toh nahi?' I said 'If I do, carry me out on a stretcher'': India bowler's story behind dream spell

By, New Delhi
Feb 28, 2023 07:03 AM IST

A veteran India bowler recalled his career-best figures, revealing how his sturdy resolve helped him fight off apprehensions from former captain MS Dhoni and coach Duncan Fletcher.

There is a reason why MS Dhoni is every Indian cricketer's most loved captain. Virat Kohli may be India's most successful leader in Tests, and Sourav Ganguly's reign as skipper is something that will always be looked back upon fondly, but the reign of Dhoni from 2007 to 2017 was something else altogether and holds a special place in the hearts of many. Under Dhoni, Indian cricket got so many stars of the future – Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Jasprit Bumrah, Hardik Pandya, Cheteshwar Pujara, Ravichandran Ashwin. Name a modern-day India great and they all took their baby steps under the guidance of Captain Cool.

MS Dhoni brought out the best in his bowlers(Getty)
MS Dhoni brought out the best in his bowlers(Getty)

Dhoni may not have replicated Kohli's Test success, especially the ones Virat achieved away from home – but even when he was in charge, India registered some memorable wins – the win in New Zealand 2009 and the twin victories in Johannesburg and Cape Town against South Africa in 2011 come to mind. However, the one win that Dhoni and his team cherished the most was the one India achieved at Lord's in 2014. After being whitewashed 0-4 in 2011, Dhoni's India returned to England three years later and took a 1-0 lead, defeating the hosts by 95 runs. There were many architects of that victory. Ajinkya Rahane scored his maiden away Test century, while Murali Vijay sizzled with a 98 in the second innings. Ravindra Jadeja's sword celebration came out with a sparkling half-century and aiding him was Bhuvneshwar Kumar with a fighting fifty of his own.

Also Read - 'He came into the dressing room, threw his cap and said 'Ab kya karna hai?'': Bharat Arun recalls Lord's Test

But the man the Lord's Test came to be known for was Ishant Sharma. The most experienced pacer of the Indian squad stood up to the occasion and bounced England out for 223. Ishant produced career-best figures of 7/74 en route to troubling England with a barrage of bouncers. Bowling with the old ball, Ishant bowled aggressively to produce one of the most memorable spells in the history of Indian cricket to give Dhoni's team their first overseas win in three years. A lot has been said and spoken about Ishant's dream spell but no one knew the planning that went behind it… until now. In a never-before-heard tale, Ishant narrates the conversation he had with Dhoni, the gameplan and finally, the execution.

"I have many favourite spells, especially the one I bowled at Lord's. When Moeen Ali got out before lunch, Mahi bhai came to me. Actually, I would tell you what happened before. We were heading towards the dressing room when Mahi bhai told me to keep it normal. If nothing works, then we'll go back to bowling bouncers. I said fine. He asked me 'Thakega toh nahi?' (You won't get tired, right?) I said I will bowl as long as you want me to. I will bowl till the match doesn't get over. He too got charged up," Ishant said during the show 'Rise of New India' on Cricbuzz.

Ishant's destructive spell brought back memories of a younger version of him first troubling, then dismissing the mighty Ricky Ponting at the WACA six years ago. So much so that at one stage, he snuffed out Moeen Ali, Ben Stokes and Joe Root, with England losing three wickets for two runs in a span of eight balls. Mentioning further, Ishant revealed how throughout the discussion, Dhoni and then-coach Duncan Fletcher were apprehensive as to whether Ishant can hold up bowling bouncer after bouncer. But as it turned out, the India pacer's sturdy resolve was unmatched, even if it meant that he injured himself after the contest.

"Then we went inside the dressing room. Duncan, Mahi bhai and I were sitting and talking. Then Duncan and Mahi bhai he asked me 'Will you bowl again?' I said I bowl till the game. He again said 'But no, you are human. You will get tired'. I insisted No. If I get tired, carry me out on a stretcher. I won't walk back till the game doesn't end. So hearing it he too felt how long can he bowl bouncers. Fine, his motivation and adrenaline are high right now. But how long can he go till? So I kept bowling. Well, it's a different thing that I got injured," added Ishant.

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