I once thought that MS Dhoni was named after a type of Indian truck. Mahendra…. Mahindra… same same. Anyhow, there is no dispute that his surname is Dhoni. That’s a really piss poor segue into this article, but I tried.
India have just defeated England at Lord’s. Possibly the only cricket ground in the world with an apostrophe in it’s name. The only one where Ganguly was asked to ring the bell and somehow missed. One where members wear the most ridiculous uniforms.
It was never meant to be this way. It’s not how the script was written.
Firstly, the ground’s curator delivered us a green top. So green that Kermit the Frog would have been hard to spot if he was standing on it. So green that Rory McIlroy mistook it for the 7th fairway at St Andrews.
So green that Alistair Cook won the toss and elected to bowl first.
Not the worst decision Cook has ever made, assuming that his star seamer on green wickets James Anderson could deliver.
Anyhow, the match went on…. Blah … Blah ….. stuff happens …. Blah .. and then England are 4/105, chasing 322 for the win at the start of Day 5.
Root and Ali take the score to 172, the ball is old and there have been no chances given. England might just win this thing.
Enter Mahindra “the Indian trucking brand but it’s spelt differently” Sing “not the correct spelling either” Dhoni.
Genius Act Part 1
MS (not multiple sclerosis, but the Indian captain) asks Ishant Sharma to bowl short. It’s the last over before tea. The ball is old and has lost its bounce. Ishant has the worst record of any fast bowler in history who has taken at least 100 wickets.
I repeat. The guy bowling HAS THE WORST RECORD EVER.
Indians don’t bowl short. Their wickets at home don’t allow for it.
Ishant strikes Root and a leg bye is run. Dhoni applauds. He yells something at Ishant.
“Bowl it short at Moeen” is probably what he said, but in Hindi. I think the translation is ” Āpa bakavāsa kara rahē hai”. Someone will correct me if I’m wrong.
The ball is delivered and rears up at a mind blowingly average 132kph into Moeen’s gloves and straight to short leg.
Genius Act Part 2
Joe Root looks settled. He senses the ball is keeping low and may start to reverse swing.
What does reverse swing mean anyway? Surely, the reverse of swinging is not swinging?
Root starts to walk down the pitch as the quick bowlers are approaching. One step. Two steps. He is removing the possibility of receiving a shooter or a bad LBW.
Root is smart.
Dhoni decides that this is not right. He stands up to the stumps as the quicks are bowling. He gloves them cleanly. Root is not walking down the pitch any more. He is frustrated.
Dhoni also stands back to Jadeja. It is like watching the wicket keeper in the Under 12’s. But he has a good reason. He wants to keep the pressure on. Balls are keeping low. He cannot afford to leak byes. His counterpart in Matt Prior let through 37 of them in this match.
Dhoni does not leak. He is waterproof and airtight.
The pressure builds around England because the wicket keeper is standing where he shouldn’t.
Genius Act Part 3
The new ball is due. The old one is 80 overs old. The short pitched bowling theory seems to be working. Moeen is gone and Prior has just fallen to the hook shot.
Ishant Sharma is morphing into Mitchant Sharma. Jadeja is also holding up the other end and keeping the pressure on.
80 overs tick by. Dhoni declines to take the new ball. Either that or he can’t count. Probably both.
The new ball will come on quicker and bounce higher. It may even swing. However, that is not what Dhoni wants. He want simply to keep the status quo. Ishant will bowl bouncers to a field with three men on the legside boundary. Jadeja will hold up the other end.
Stokes falls into the trap. So does Root.
130kph bouncers are now the most lethal ball in cricket. I used to think it was was the slow straight ball.
Still, the new ball is not taken.
88.2 overs are bowled by the time Anderson lets Jadeja run him out to end the match.
The ball is exhausted.
India win at Lord’s.
MS Dhoni is a geniusFollow @denniscricket_