It was a Dhoni show! The expectant crowd which waited all day, and endured the slow batting of Vidarbha under the hot sun, was treated to some magic as the former India captain put the finishing touches in Jharkhand’s six-wicket victory with a six over long-on in the Vijay Hazare Trophy cricket quarterfinal at the Palam ground on Wednesday.
The fans, who lined the boundary rope inside the ground and dared to watch from near the restricted area — which warns that ‘trespassers could be shot’ — were resigned to the possibility of Jharkhand not requiring Dhoni’s services as a batsman. Dhoni ensured they went back content.
The match was dead very early in the day when Vidarbha, which opted to bat, lost three wickets with the score on nine on a pitch in which the batsmen struggled to time their shots or force the pace.
With Monu Kumar and VarunAaron bagging three wickets between them and the sharp fielding accounting for three run outs, Vidarbha was reduced to 42 for five at one stage. It was thanks to some fine batting by Ravi Jangid, who scored 62 off 87 balls with eight fours and a six, before being run out, that provided substance to Vidarbha’s challenge.
Ganesh Satish (35) and Rajneesh Gurbani (22) were the other Vidarbha batsmen who ensured that the fans could wait and hope to catch a glimpse of Dhoni at the batting crease.
In the event, Pratyush Singh (33) and Ishan Kishan (35) gave a robust start for Jharkhand. Once the openers departed, the crowd started appealing with the Vidarbha team, in an attempt to bring Dhoni to the middle.
The Jharkhand batsmen obliged as Kumar Deobrat and Saurabh Tiwary got out after scoring 17 each, leaving Dhoni to entertain the fans with 44 required from 15 overs.
Dhoni was watchful and was happy to push for the singles, twos and the odd three, allowing Ishank Jaggi a lot of strike to reach his unbeaten 41 off 61 balls with four 4s and a six. When Ganesh Satish came on to bowl, Dhoni, who had scored 12 off 26 balls till then, launched himself for the rousing six to bring the curtains down on the match.
Overall, it was worth the wait for the spectators, one of whom managed to sneak into the middle before the innings was over, touched Dhoni’s feet and got his autograph as well!
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