On a day that seemed like a highlight reel from a decade back, Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni rolled back the years to show how they still are a force to reckon with in the 50-overs format, helping themselves to a century each and decimating the English opposition beyond repair.
The Indian innings started off in terrible fashion, tumbling to 25-3, before Dhoni and Yuvraj unleashed their strokes and sent the bowlers into a tizzy. Their partnership was the highest fourth-wicket stand for any pair against England. They also became the fifth pair to hit more than 10+ century stands for India.
MS Dhoni, started cautiously, but later switched gears. And by the time he finished, he had stroked ten boundaries and smashed six over the ropes.
MS Dhoni and India rode the wave
England threw everything at the talismanic batsman, but success eluded them.
The tourists were clearly devoid of any luck, for the only time they managed to get through the defences of MS Dhoni, it was off a free-hit. To rub salt in their wounds, the Indian team collected four runs, despite the ball crashing into the off stump.
Off a free-hit, the only way a batsman can get dismissed is by being ‘run-out’. Before July 5, 2015, a free-hit was offered only to front foot no-balls but now the rule has extended to no-balls awarded for balls deemed over the waist height as well.
Liam Plunkett was plundered for 91 runs off his quota of 10 overs. While he did manage to get rid of the former India captain for 134, the once instance he wanted to really celebrate resulted in four runs being awarded to India.
The incident occurred in the 44th over of the Indian innings, with Dhoni batting on 103, his first century since October 2013.
Plunkett had overstepped on the previous delivery, a full ball on the off stump that was placed for a couple of runs by Dhoni. He returned to take strike to face the free-hit delivery but missed it with his big heave. The ball clipped the stumps and under normal circumstances, Plunkett would have punched the air in celebration. But now, not only did he have to face the ignominy of not picking up the wicket of a star batsman, he also had to powerlessly watch the ball race to the boundary.
Four byes were now awarded to India.
Sending the ball in all directions
In the previous over, Dhoni, on 93, had smacked a full toss to the leg side. The ball was clearly headed over the ropes but for the SpiderCam. The camera arrested the ball and a dead ball was called. But Dhoni made amends immediately.
Off the very next delivery, Dhoni sent the ball sailing to the top tier of the stadium with one big swoosh that cleaned up a full delivery from Chris Woakes. With that stroke, he completed 200 sixes, the first Indian to achieve the feat.
While Yuvraj perished on 150, Dhoni continued to motor along, hitting sixes at will and dismissing all doubts about his place in the team as a pure wicket-keeper batsman. He finished with 134, getting out eventually to Plunkett off a full toss that went straight down the throat of David Willey at deep square leg.
But the damage was well and truly done.Published 19 Jan 2017, 17:15 IST