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MSD's brief display of emotion was a telling sign

By Anil Kumble
Monday, October 24, 2021

India put on a wonderful exhibition of making light of a daunting run chase, the reward for their five-wicket win being a satisfying 3-0 series lead.

I was impressed by Ajinkya Rahane, who was the fulcrum of the chase. Rahane has been a prolific run-getter in domestic cricket, and it was nice to see him translate those runs in international cricket. Had he got to a hundred, it would have been well deserved. Even so, to get 91 under pressure and to win the man-of-the-match award should be a confidence booster.

Even in England, he showed he had the ability, but got out in the 20s and 30s. By converting his start and showcasing his maturity, he has sent out the right signal. Even when the seniors return, it will be heartening to know that there are other match-winners waiting in the wings.

There is no doubt who the best finisher in one-day cricket is. MS Dhoni proved his credentials all over again. He read the situation beautifully and timed his attack to perfection, controlling the game excellently with Ravindra Jadeja. By the time the two came together, it was almost a T20 situation. Had India lost another wicket, the pressure would’ve mounted. But both batsman finished the job clinically.

It mattered, and how

Dhoni’s emotions showed how much this win mattered to him. Generally very controlled, he let loose briefly, the victory perhaps going some way towards erasing a few bitter memories of India's campaign in England.

It was hard work for the bowlers on a very good Mohali strip, but I thought the India bowlers stuck to their task. It’s sad that Umesh Yadav is ruled out of the series but I am delighted that Abhimanyu Mithun is joining his Karnataka fast bowling team-mates R Vinay Kumar and S Arvind in the squad.

It’s important that India don’t slacken and target a 5-0 scoreline. But it’s equally important to give some of the players who haven't got a game the opportunity in the last two matches.

England, it’s obvious, have a long way to go in one-day cricket. They might be the No.1 Test team, but that doesn’t automatically confer top-dog status in other formats. They have been frustrated by the turn of events, which has manifested itself in their conduct on the field.

I’ve been asked if England was right in opting to bat first in the last two games even when aware that dew might be a factor. You must do what you are comfortable doing, and I’ve a feeling they thought their best chance was putting runs on the board.

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