Former Team India fielding coach R Sridhar recounted the time when Ravi Shastri lost his cool over MS Dhoni's sedate innings in an ODI against England in 2018. The former head coach was far from pleased with the wicketkeeper's approach towards the target, which India eventually fell short by 86 runs.
The incident came during the second ODI of the three-match away series against England at Lord's. Joe Root's century helped England post 322-7, leaving the visitors with a mammoth task.
India began the chase relatively well and stuttered a bit after the powerplay, but were still in the contest at 140-3 at the midway mark.
However, a flurry of wickets saw the Men in Blue slump to 191-7 with 10 overs remaining. With Dhoni still at the crease, there was a little bit of hope left. even though the asking rate was over 13 at that point. However, Dhoni made no proactive approach to score runs, with only 20 runs coming off the next five or six overs. The World Cup-winning skipper was eventually dismissed for 37 after facing 59 deliveries.
Recalling how Shastri was fuming over the manner with which Dhoni approached the run chase, Sridhar wrote in his recently published book, 'Coaching Beyond: My Days with the Indian Cricket Team':
"Ravi, meanwhile, was seething. He was furious not because we lost by 86 runs, but how we lost the game, how we went down without putting up a fight. We didn't go for the target, we didn't go down throwing a punch, we just went down tamely The head coach wasn't going to let that one sail harmlessly by."
Sridhar further wrote:
"The decider was in Headingley, and we had a team meeting the previous day. The entire squad was in attendance, including all members of the support staff, and I knew Ravi was going to make a strong point.
"He was at his loudest and fiercest as he said, 'No matter who you may be, there should not be another occasion when we lose a match not trying to win it. It will not happen under my watch. And if anyone does it, that will be the last bloody game of cricket they will play under my watch. You can lose a cricket game, no shame in that, but you will not lose like this."
The heavy defeat allowed England to get back into the series after India claimed a comfortable win in the opening contest. The Eoin Morgan-led side eventually went on to claim the series after a clinical chase in Leeds, backed by yet another century from Root.
"He never broke eye contact with Ravi. He didn't look here and there or fidget" - R Sridhar on MS Dhoni's reaction to the team talk
MS Dhoni is regarded as one of the most stoic figures in world cricket. It is hard to imagine such a figure being on the receiving end of a fuming team talk, especially in his twilight years. However, as R Sridhar recalls, he did it with dignity. The former coach wrote:
"MS was sitting right there in the front, and while Ravi's words were meant for the team, his eyes were trained on MS To the former skipper's great credit, he didn't flinch, he never broke eye contact with Ravi."
"He didn't look here and there or fidget because one of his many admirable qualities is his ability to take the knocks, especially when he knows in his heart of hearts that he deserves them."
Dhoni was found guilty of playing a sedate knock not too long after his innings at Lord's in 2018. The veteran keeper-batter scored an unbeaten 42 off 31 deliveries in a 2019 ODI World Cup clash against England. India needed 112 runs in 11 overs and had batters like Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya in the mix as well.
However, strangely enough, India lost the contest by 31 runs despite having five wickets in hand.
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