India vs New Zealand, 2019 World Cup semifinal:
Exactly one year ago, a dream went up in smoke in Manchester. “Those two inches… I still keep telling myself I should have dived,” MS Dhoni would say in an interview a few days later.
Those two inches saw Dhoni being run out with India needing a suddenly-impossible looking 24 runs off 9 balls to qualify for the final of the 2019 World Cup.
Ravindra Jadeja, who with his 116-run stand with Dhoni, had produced that most dangerous sentiment in sports — hope — on that day, tweeted earlier today: “We try our best but still fall short sometimes. One of the saddest days!”
— Ravindrasinh jadeja (@imjadeja) July 10, 2020
What was especially heartbreaking for India, Dhoni, Jadeja, captain Virat Kohli — who would pin the defeat on ’45 minutes of bad cricket’ after the match — was that the World Cup trophy had seemed destined to be India’s all through the tournament because of the ease with which they had rolled over opposition teams.
Even when India had their first real stutter of the tournament, being reduced to 5/3 in their semifinal against New Zealand, Dhoni’s presence would have given assurance.
The stage seemed set for Dhoni to put on a swansong that would be talked of for ages — a final rescue act which would take India to another World Cup final. “That (Dhoni’s) run-out was significant. We have seen Dhoni finish games from those similar positions on a number of occasions,” Kiwi skipper Kane Williamson had said after the match.
Even umpire Richard Kettleborough, going upstairs after Martin Guptill’s direct hit, seemed to understand the import of the moment. Not very often do we see umpires reveal their emotions during matches, but this was an exceptional moment — a moment of heartbreak that would be talked about for years.
’45 minutes of bad cricket’
Chasing 240, KL Rahul, Rohit Sharma and Kohli were sent packing on one run each, leaving the team at 5/3 after 3.1 overs. Rishabh Pant showed some resistance but a careless drive towards mid-wicket in the 23rd over made things worse for the Men In Blue as half the side had returned to the pavilion with just 71 on the board.
Then on, Dhoni’s 116-run stand with Ravindra Jadeja for the seventh wicket was like the script of a thriller unfolding.
Despite the required rate escalating, the duo produced a splendid fightback, which featured some brutal hitting by Jadeja and the persistence by the former skipper at the other end.
With 31 required in the final two overs of the 240-run chase, Dhoni started off by smashing a six off Lockie. The second delivery was a dot. The third delivery induced a mishit from Dhoni. The batsmen scampered through for two. Guptill, running in from fine leg, got a direct hit at the stumps.
WHAT A MOMENT OF BRILLIANCE!
— ICC (@ICC) July 10, 2019
KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant and Sanju Samson have taken turns to keep wickets for India since then. Dhoni has not been seen in competitive action since that day.
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