Dhoni drags India back into the match with a blast
Tea: Third Test, day one, Edgbaston
Match score: India 205-8 (MS Dhoni 61*, I Sharma 4; TT Bresnan 4-62); Full scorecard
Session score: India 130-4 India win session
Halfway through the afternoon session, the question was asked: is this disappointing? No one could work it out. The No.1 team in the world was getting a spanking by a slick England side.
It should be epic.
But India were so out of form, so apparently lacking in interest in this series, so over-powered by England, that there was no contest.
Then came Dhoni, India’s World Cup winning captain. He’s been a player for the big moment in the past – pushing himself up the order in that World Cup final to win the match on his own.
Here he had to create his own big moment. India were 111 for 7 – Amit MIshra caught behind, the hot-headed seamer Praveen Kumar wandering to the wicket, Dhoni on 6 and horribly out of form. It seemed another moment in England’s procession to a 4-0 series win – it may well still be.
Dhoni had one option: he had to attack. He’d poked and prodded with the bat all series. It hadn’t worked. He’d tried to bat sensibly. That hadn’t work. He had to take some risks to rediscover some rhythm. For 20 electric overs, that did work.
And he’s still batting.
Ferocious pulls, quick hands and brilliant slaps off James Anderson over mid-on then Bresnan over mid-wicket both for six. Then Praveen Kumar joined in with a few thumps off Swann to make 26 before Bresnan (not bowling as well as you might think) finally bounced him out.
This was the session of two halves. England had destroyed both India and any shade of a contest. India looked so out of shape that you’d be forgiven for wondering how they are the No.1 Test side in the world even though there were glimpses.
VVS Laxman played four beautiful, pure strokes, two through cover, one straight and one through mid-wicket. But then he lazily lobbed a Tim Bresnan short-ball to fine leg – an identikit dismissal to one at Lord’s.
Suresh Reina endured another working over from the quicks before a fast, straight yorker from Anderson did for him; he looked relieved the painful examination was over.
Once Mishra had gone, it was left to Dhoni to take a gamble – well, a sort of gamble. He had nothing to lose, it was his only option.
Edward Craig is the deputy editor of The Cricketer magazine. Follow him on Twitter @Cricketer_Ed