India batting first scored 146 runs and then got 11 runs to defend in the last over in a crucial group B match in Bangalore against Bangladesh. MS Dhoni showed his captaincy calibre once again as he handed the bowl to Hardik Pandya who made his debut against Australia in January 2016. Pandya joined Men in Blue after playing highly competitive IPL.
Bangladesh batsmen targeted Jasprit Bumrah from beginning of their innings. Bumrah dropped a catch and gifted a four via a misfield on the very first ball of Bangladesh’s innings.
Then he dropped a catch. Dhoni had to hide at times, often seen waving at him to swap crucial positions with a better fielder.
Then there was that crucial decision of asking Pandya to bowl the final over at the end of which won by just one run, followed by Pandya’s solo run to the boundary and his signature heel click.
How does MS Dhoni manage to do it time and again? He not only can lift a player, in this case Bumrah, from a poor start but also create heroes out of youngsters. What does he do that often does the trick?
Talking about Thursday’s game at the M Chinnaswamy Stadium here, Dhoni got Bumrah back to his best in the death overs and put his trust in Pandya to defend 11 runs in the final six balls. And it worked. Dhoni explained how.
Dhoni called Bumrah the find of Australia tour and has given indications that he sees in Pandya the seam up allrounder. Australia tour and has given indications that he sees in Pandya the seam up allrounder he is looking for. But the captain reckoned Thursday’s game was the first that put the two youngsters through a real test.
“I feel it was a very good game for us, especially the youngsters, somebody like Hardik or Bumrah. This was their first proper interaction with pressure, what pressure can really do.
“I feel they must have learnt a lot out of this game, and these are the games that really make you better players. It pushes you to think in a different way. It pushes you to have that confidence in your strengths at a time when you really need it.”
Last two overs:
Bangladesh had two experienced batsmen – Mahmudullah and Mushfiqur Rahim – at the crease in the last two overs with 17 to win. Dhoni could have thrown the ball to Suresh Raina or Yuvraj Singh, but he asked Bumrah and Pandya to shoulder the responsibility.
“I think it was quite an easy decision,” Dhoni said about his picks. “Reason being the batsmen were scoring quite freely at that point of time. I knew I had to get one over from somebody, whether it’s a spinner or Pandya. I said what’s important right now is to make a game out of it. That’s when I said I would use a proper bowler at this point of time [19th over], and we will see how many runs are needed in the last over. According to that we will decide who is the person who can bowl.
“There were quite a few options [for the 20th over]. There was Yuvraj Singh, there was Suresh Raina, Hardik Pandya was there. That was the reason behind it [asking Bumrah to bowl the 19th over].
“You say ‘whatever runs you save, it keeps mounting [pressure] in the last over’.”
Dhoni had a long chat with Pandya before the final over and also often in between before the all-rounder ended the game with three wickets off the last three balls, including a runout.
“We were just discussing what can be a good length to bowl, whether to go for yorkers. If you are looking for the yorker, then [whether] you want to bowl at the stumps or wide outside off.
“Depending on the bowler, you have to picturise what is the best option. So that’s what we were discussing. I won’t elaborate more because it is also part of our strategy. Maybe by the end of the tournament, I can say more about it, but that’s what we were discussing – what was the best plan at that point of time, and I feel he executed the plan well.”
Jasprit was down, MS Dhoni’s words instilled confidence in him
Bumrah found his mark at the death. He had given away 19 runs in two overs, before coming with a tight second spell of 0 for 13, which made the game the game appear in balance.
But it didn’t look like Bumrah’s day until that point, as he was sloppy in the field and also gave Tamim Iqbal a life dropping him at 15.
Dhoni then had a word with his young bowler, telling him to focus on what he can do rather than thinking about what has already happened.
“Today’s game we all knew how important it was, and the very first ball if you misfield, as a youngster you are under pressure. I think that actually reflected in his bowling also, and then he dropped a catch.
“It’s important at that point in time to tell him that it doesn’t really matter because what has happened has happened. You can’t do anything about it. You can sit there for half an hour, the batsman won’t get out. What was important was to get away from it, and at the same time try to execute your plans, what your strength is.
“When he came for his second over, he went for runs…After that, we had one more conversation, and it worked.”
Dhoni is also impressed with Pandya’s willingness to take the pressure, which in turn helping him learn fast and understand that there will be good and bad days on the way.
“He is going through a phase where there will be ups and downs. When you come in as a youngster, you are full of confidence. That’s where cricket steps in,” the skipper hinted at the game being a great leveler.
“You score big in a game, then you don’t score for a few games, then come back strong, you may go for runs in a few games. I feel once you go through these chapters, you become a more accomplished cricketer – as a bowler, as a batsman. So I feel it was a very good game for him – reason being he had to bowl under pressure. The good thing was he was willing to do it and he was ready with his plan.”