England all-rounder Ben Stokes in his new book ‘On Fire’ had alleged that India’s former captain MS Dhoni showed little or no intent during India’s run chase in the 2019 World cup clash against England last summer.
Stokes, in his book, says he was perplexed by India’s run-chasing strategy in which he found Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma’s approach “mystifying” and saw “no intent” from Dhoni during it. In fact, Stokes called skipper Virat Kohli’s complaints about the “59 metre” boundary on one side “whingeing”, read a news report published by India Today.
Referring to the game at Birmingham, where India lost to England by 31 runs, failing to chase the massive score of 337, Stokes noted: “Arguably, the way MS Dhoni played when he came in with 112 runs needed from 11 overs was even stranger.”
“He appeared more intent on singles than sixes. Even with a dozen balls remaining, India could still have won.”
“…there was little or no intent from him (Dhoni) or his partner Kedar Jadhav. To me, while victory is still possible you always go for broke,” Stokes wrote in his soon-to-be-published book.
With Dhoni’s approach to remain unbeaten on 42 off 31 balls, the England cricketer revealed that the hosts’ dressing room felt that Dhoni was just cautious of the fact that the run-rate remained intact.
“There is a theory in our camp that Dhoni’s way of playing has always been the same. Even if India can’t win the game, he takes it right to the end to try to make sure that India’s run-rate stays relatively healthy,” Stokes says.
“His big thing has always been to give himself a chance of winning by being at the crease for the final over, but he generally likes to stick around to get as close to a target as possible even in a losing cause.”
Stokes also highlighted the ‘bewildering’ game of Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli where he said: “The way Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli played was mystifying. I know that we bowled brilliantly well during this period, but the way they went about their batting just seemed bizarre.”
“They allowed their team to get so far behind the game. They showed no desire to put any pressure back onto our team, content instead to just drift along, a tactic that was clearly playing into our hands.”
He also mentioned that Kohli’s later justification of relying on short boundaries to accomplish the target seemed absurd to him.
“Yet it was weird to hear India captain Kohli whingeing about the size of the boundaries at the post-match presentation ceremony.
“I have never heard such a bizarre complaint after a match. It’s actually the worst complaint you could ever make.
“Both teams have to bat out there, and get the same number of balls, so how can the playing area’s dimensions be an advantage to one team or the other?” he underlined.
When India took on England last year at the ICC Cricket World Cup 2019, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka needed India to win the match to ensure the three were still alive in the tournament.
After the match, cricket fans raised eyebrows over the manner in which India attempted to chase the target set by England. Some viewed it as a deliberate attempt by India to ensure Pakistan’s chances of reaching the final stages of the world cup diminished.