Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s insistence upon “running hard” pays off for India

first_imgMahendra Singh Dhoni would have been a worried man after India lost the opening game of the three-match T20 International series to minnows Zimbabwe on Saturday.Of course, India, who have been in sensational T20 form throughout the year, were under strength. Almost all their major stars were rested and Dhoni opted for five debutants after whitewashing the hosts in the ODI series.But Zimbabwe, backed by Elton Chigumbura’s blistering half-century and some spirited bowling, handed India a shock two-run defeat. Dhoni, one of the most dangerous finishers in the game, was left red-faced. On Monday, the stakes would have been significantly high. Had he been unable to keep India alive in the series, his future as India’s limited-overs captain could have been seriously jeopardised.But Dhoni, who has been at the helm of Indian cricket for nearly a decade, was unnerved. He urged his young charges to fight hard and insisted that they did not repeat the mistakes that proved costly over the weekend. Consequently, India bounced back strongly and handed Zimbabwe a 10-wicket thrashing .”I emphasised that we needed to run hard, push the fielders and in a shorter format it’s always important to sneak in those quick runs. Even in Test matches that’s the key. The fielders also backed up well as the bowlers did a great job in the initial few overs.”The bowlers fired on all cylinders and they were ably led by Barinder Sran, who picked 4/9, recorded the best figures by an Indian bowler on debut and the second-best by an Indian bowler in this format (after R Ashwin’s 4/8 against Sri Lanka in February this year).advertisementJasprit Bumrah captured 3/11 (his best T20 figurres) and together with Sran strangled Zimbabwe to 99 in their 20 overs. The openers then cruised away with Mandeep Singh smashing his maiden fifty in only his second match. Lokesh Rahul, who fell for a golden duck on his T20 debut two days back, struck back with a polished, unbeaten 47 as India romped home with 47 balls to spare.This was India’s first 10-wicket victory but there were some disconcerting moments before the game for Dhoni. This wicket was overused and anything is likely to happen on such a surface. Luckily for the visitors, the 22-yard strip remained true, allowing their bowlers and batsmen to flourish.”It was a big victory. I think the bowlers started well and personally I was a little worried as we were playing out third straight game on the same pitch. I felt there might be something worrying about the pitch. That’s why I wanted to bat first.”last_img