Manchester: The stakes are as dramatic as they could be. When the Kiwis were 211 runs after 46.1 overs, the looming rain stooped the play, force-pushing it to the reserve day. On the D-day too, New Zealand added 28 more runs to pose a 239-run target to India.
Though it was a slower pitch, India as the table-toppers was expected to sail through the target with in-form openers and a formidable-looking middle order. (Meanwhile, Kiwis hung by a thread, made a hat trick of losses, relied on the net run rate, and managed a foot inside a barely ajarred door.) But fate had other plans.
What happened next to an overtly top-order-reliant team was a shocker to the billions of fans. Kiwi bowling attack turned the game around, taking three wickets in the opening 19 balls. Tournament top-scorer Rohit Sharma, skipper Virat Kohli, and KL Rahul were all dismissed after scoring a run each.
Feeble attempts by Dinesh Karthik, Rishab Pant, Hardik Pandya to get back at the game followed, yet India was in dire straits at 92 for 6. Then came a duo, who ignited the lost hopes to win the penultimate match of the tournament.
The former captain of the team, a wicket-keeper batsman who was also a faith-keeper and a well-tested finisher, MS Dhoni partnered with lofty all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja to build the innings. Cricktaker rightly called them ‘lighthouse to the lost ship’ as they pulled a 116-run stand at a time when it was needed the most.
Jadeja’s eventful knock came to an end as he towered one up in the air and Kiwi’s skipper Kane Williamson made no mistake. His heroic 77 off 59 came to an end, but the line was not crossed, as the team’s towering idol still stood relentless.
In the last two overs, India was 31 runs away from reaching the final and this man had always finished such games with ease. Fans were nervous, yet eerily relaxed. Dhoni’s upper-cut six, bringing in his half-century, for the first ball in the 49th over relieved many—and that is a fact.
The next ball was a dot.
Then came the moment. A slower ball from Ferguson cramped Dhoni on the pull. After completing a run, he tried a second run, when a brilliant Martin Guptill stole it for India with a terrific direct hit at the keeper’s end. The expression on Dhoni’s face said that it was all over for India. What happened later was just a blur. New Zealand won by 18 runs.
Agonizing. That run out not only cost India a world cup but put a full stop to MS Dhoni’s international cricket career.
‘I should have dived’
“In my first game I was run-out and this game again I was run-out. I keep telling myself why didn’t I dive. Those two inches I still keep telling myself I should have dived,” MS Dhoni told in an interview with India Today.
Reflecting on the loss, former captain and now the BCCI president Sourav Ganguly, veteran cricketer VVS Laxman said India committed a “tactical blunder” by demoting Mahendra Singh Dhoni to number seven on the match-day.