Sleep is a wonderful weapon against a mind running high on entropy. It calms down your mind. It makes you see things which you were invisible to you when you were last awake. So when I woke up this morning after sleeping with a mind as unstable as our lower order batting – a torturous Monday morning awaited me, England were in a position to call the shots in Nottingham test after being given two life lines by us, and we had shown gamesman spirit to a team who knows all the uses of Vaseline , my mind was in a more rational position to think.
We, barring rain or a miracle like this, are on our way to go down 2-0 in this series which will make English dancing on our heads for few years unless we win the next two matches. They have all the rights to do so. If loss at Lord’s was because of lack of preparedness, injuries, and illness apart from cricketing reasons, there is no excuse for our position in this test. Twice, I repeat, twice in this test we have handed over the same gun to them which we were using to hold them on their heads. As if we wanted to say “Tere liye to mere hath hi kaafi hain” Unfortunately, our hands have either hamstring problems or shoulder issues. Oh yeah, they even have an elbow problem.
Second issue was the one which will be remembered as the image of this test match – Ian Bell’s run out and then not out. Last night I was furious about it – forget England, no other team would have called a batsman back if he was given out within the laws of the game.
We did call him back. But if we called him back for the sake of gamesman spirit, why did we run him out in the first place? Didn’t we know that there would be a gigantic hue & cry after this? Agreed getting Bell run out was within the laws of the game and we must give credit to Bell for it – he acted wonderfully well pretending he was NOT trying to take a run.
Praveen Kumar threw it to Dhoni, who lobbed it to another fielder and stumps were broken. It was going to be a huge wicket but at that point of time, England was anyhow well ahead. I don’t think his dismissal was going to make such a huge difference. It would have been 4th wicket but the way we have allowed to let England’s tail bat in this series, it is unlikely that England would have folded up like we did in our first innings in this match or first innings in Lords or second innings in Lords. Anyhow, a wicket is a wicket – that too of a centurion who was batting exceptionally well. We had all the rights to run him out. Those who say it was against the spirit of the game to run a batsman out who is not taking a run, please go watch the video again. Even if you do not agree with me, you have all the rights to disagree with me.
So Dhoni ran him out knowing Englishmen would make deafening noise about it. Everyone contributed – those in favor or those against it. The entire crowd booed Indian team. We were made to look cheats by the crowd after we were accused of possible cheating by current and ex England players – Vaseline issue.
Teams came out for the port-tea session. Bell walked out to bat. Boos immediately turned into cheers. Dhoni, who was shown as a desperate cheat moments ago, was applauded for his sportsmanship spirit.
Now look at the issue this way. What did we have to gain if Bell had got out? We would have got a crucial wicket that too of Bell who was murdering our bowling. But Bell had scored enough to make sure that his team was in a match winning position.
Why did we do it - because of the heat of the moment? But where was the heat in that moment for us. We were looking colder than death after that partnership between Bell and Morgan. Had a newcomer done it, I would have accepted this argument. But it was Dhoni who lobbed the bowl to the fielder who broke the stumps. Isn’t he known as one of the coolest brains in the circuit?
Why did we reverse the decision - to show that we believe in the spirit of the game? But if we actually believed in it, we shouldn’t have run him out in the first place. Belief is a strong word. It cannot change within 20 minutes of tea interval. If we did run him out, there was no point calling him back. Either you believed that we needed that wicket at all cost or you did not. But it looked like as if we agreed to pay the cost but moments later realized it wasn’t worth. It wasn’t a mistake. It was well thought of.
Dhoni must have thought like this, ‘If we can get away with this silently, we get a wicket. If silence is met with the deafening noise, we can always withdraw our appeal till the next ball is bowled. After all we have a 20 minute tea break to assess the situation’
It was a win-win situation for him. When he saw that hell did break lose during the tea break, he withdrew the appeal and became the true ambassador of the game.
Rest of the world will argue for/against it for the time to come, weather what he did was right or wrong but none will question his integrity as a cricketer. He has stamped himself in the pages of Vishwanath and Walsh. They had a lot at stake. Dhoni had lot less as compared to them. Andrew Strauss may keep the series-trophy in his most secure locker, he may keep fantacising his number one test ranking for the rest of his life, but the Dhoni has stolen lot of fame from him yesterday. It will be known as the series of Dhoni's sportsman spirit which England won. It was a masterstroke by him.
I know there are more Dhoni bashers around than his supporters –most of us may not be brave enough to accept the reason behind it. One may argue that he is not the best captain we have had which and I agree – Ganguly was the best we had. Very few may argue that given his current form, he deserves a place in the side – be it keeping or the batting and to certain extent, I agree to it as well.
But he is one of the shrewdest mind I have seen playing cricket. England is most likely to win this test but the match will be remembered more for Dhoni’s sportsmanship than England’s victory.
For all those who are still arguing for or against his act of last evening, I would say what I said when Dhoni accepted that playing Nehra in the WC11 semi final against Pakistan might have been a mistake in hindsight .
I would say, “Read between the lines you morons.”
PS: Credit for the title of the post goes to Ramesh Srivats. I stole it from his tweets, yesterday. Hope he doesn’t sue me.