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MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav: The master and the apprentice

CONTRIBUTOR
Feature
711   //    04 Mar 2019, 23:31 IST

MS Dhoni
MS Dhoni

It's 99 for 4. Ambati Rayudu has feathered one off Zampa to Carey. Zampa is bowling beautifully having just got Kohli's wicket a few overs back with one that straightened after pitching.

India are staring at a target of 237, and after 4 strikes, it suddenly doesn't look as easy as it looked when the chase began. It's the first ODI of the series, in Hyderabad, and after the two T20I losses, it looks like the Aussies might pull a rabbit out of the hat in this one too.

Kedar Jadhav walks in to join MS Dhoni. The Aussies smell blood. They have realised the pitch isn't playing as true as a typical Indian pitch. They know a couple of wickets more at this stage and the match is theirs.

It is at this point that the story takes off. The apprentice joins the master, and they put together a partnership of such beauty, patience, grit and confidence that the match is wrestled away from Australia in as emphatic a way as you can imagine. To understand how it happened is where the fun is. The devil is always in the details.

Dhoni defends everything for the next half an hour. He plays such risk-free cricket that fans start doubting if he even cares for the win. This is a typical Dhoni terrain. The magic lies in how he convinces himself and also his partner that there is always enough time. Always.

"I probably would have played more shots." This was Kedar Jadhav's admission in the post-match interview when asked how differently he would have batted if Dhoni was not at the other end. That tells a story. Dhoni is a monk. He makes the batsman at the other end a monk too.

Nobody paces an innings as well as Dhoni. A 50-over innings has plenty of time. Hell, even a 20 over innings has plenty of time in Dhoni's book. Even the opposition know that if Dhoni stays till the end, he will pull India through. That's his reputation, and his aura.

After surrendering the next 30 minutes to Australia and absorbing all the pressure, but still being alive, it's then Dhoni and Jadhav time. Over the next hour, Dhoni hits a trademark six off a full ball over long on, Jadhav ramps a four over short third man and Jadhav hits a short arm jab for four over mid-wicket.

The momentum has shifted. India still need a run-a-ball for the next 14 overs but at this level and stage, it's all about momentum, and temperament.

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The Indians defend most balls but manage a boundary per over with ease. There is a calmness in the batting that is just so fun to watch. The match might as well be playing in their heads with no opposition, such is their control. In the end, the pair take India to an easy win.

The real benefit in this match for India was Jadhav getting the opportunity to grit it out with the master, Dhoni. Soon, one fine day, the master will be gone. Time waits for no one. But days like these are key, to get the apprentice ready when he can take over from the master.

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