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For MS Dhoni, it was home, sweet home

Sunday, 20 January 2013 - 6:00am IST | Place: Ranchi | Agency: dna

On a day when the 40,000-odd Ranchi crowd give a royal reception to their Dhoni, Kohli (77*) and Jadeja (3/19) decimate England as India go 2-1 up in the five-match ODI series.

For a moment, James Tredwell’s mind must have travelled across the Atlantic to the leafy confines of his picturesque home ground in Canterbury. The delivery he produced to knock back Yuvraj Singh’s off stump was classical and hence delightful. The magnificent JSCA Stadium, packed to the brim, celebrated like there was no tomorrow. The journeyman off-spinner from Kent got one to straighten from round the stumps, and the batsman’s decision to push forward inside the line only contributed to the dismissal’s ‘connoisseur quotient’.

Unfortunately for Tredwell — and England — Yuvraj’s departure had no impact whatsoever on the eventual result of the third ODI. And within no time, the elated bowler may have got the point. The 40,000-odd spectators were not going ga-ga over his success. In fact, they were so ‘thankless’ that they chose to overlook Yuvraj’s brilliant cameo, his 66-run stand with Man of the Match Virat Kohli (77 not out) and, more pertinently, that India were just 12 runs away from taking a 2-1 lead in the five-match series.

In short, they just didn’t care.

Instead, all eyes were on the dressing room. Will he, won’t he? There was no way Suresh Raina was going to play party-pooper. And as Mahendra Singh Dhoni would later admit, it was his good friend who insisted that he bat at No 5. To put it simply, Ranchiites owe it to Raina. And out walked Dhoni to applause, the decibel levels of which would have put an Airbus A380 to shame. And for once, chants of “Dhoni…Dhoni” reminded you of the reception the faithful at Wankhede accord to you know who!

Dhoni failed to score off his first three deliveries, and the manner in which he got off the mark was as bizarre as England’s batting performance. So ferocious was the thump that the ball, even after smashing into the stumps at the other end, had enough and more in it to race away to the boundary. Need we say how the crowd reacted? Steven Finn’s drooping shoulders completed the picture.

In the next over, bowled by Tredwell again, Dhoni did nothing of note before doing just what the crowd wanted. A single off the last ball brought him back on strike against Finn. He’s hit many a famous winning run, those on April 2, 2011 topping them all, but the pull he executed to take India home on Saturday was no less poignant.

Victory was always going to be India’s, especially after they bowled out the visitors for a paltry 155 in 42.2 overs on a wicket that was neither demonic nor placid. Instead, it was one that offered swing, seam, bounce and also value for shots. How else do you explain a supposedly out-of-sorts Kohli’s majestic return to where he belongs? So devastating was Kohli that he smashed the English attack to smithereens — those elegant drives, meaty cuts and purposeful pulls making it amply clear that he’s back! The highlight of his knock was a boundary he collected off Jade Dernbach in the closing stages of the match, finding the gap between extra cover and mid-off with a classy drive.

Earlier, England suffered a collapse of sorts by going from 68/1 to 155 all out in a matter of 27 overs. Every bowler Dhoni employed fetched him (at least) a wicket, with Ravindra Jadeja being the most impressive of the lot. His double strikes (Craig Kieswetter and Samit Patel) ended the visitors’ hopes of rebuilding the innings after Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Shami Ahmed, and Ishant Sharma had reduced England to 68/3.

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