January 23, 2006

Magnificent Dhoni.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni played a truly memorable innings yesterday which, while not yet saving the day for the Indians, certainly made them breathe easy. It was memorable for its ferocity, discipline, and most importantly for its brilliance in a time of intense pressure. He came in at 258/4 when Yuvraj just got out and India was in a real spot of bother, with Tendulkar being the only specialist batsman and still needing 131 runs to avoid follow-on. And soon Sachin got out (a strange dismissal, more here), leaving India gaping at 281/5. It was a critical moment and Pakistan could so easily have run away with the match at that moment. Another quick wicket or two and they will be into the long tail of Indians. But kudos to Dhoni and Pathan for a record-breaking partnership:
The unbeaten 160-run partnership between Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Irfan Pathan is the highest for the sixth-wicket by India against Pakistan, beating the previous highest of 143 between Kapil Dev and Mohammad Azharuddin at Calcutta in 1986-87. [Link]

India is not yet safe and they have still lot of work to do. But now a draw seems a very much achievable goal.

One should not forget the crucial 197-run partnership between Laxman and Dravid in the morning. They negotiated the whole of pre-lunch session without any problems and Indians were sitting pretty at lunch. Dravid was rock solid as usual and Laxman was at his elegant best. Both put on a display of test batsmenship at its patient best. Laxman was a touch unlucky to miss out on his 10th test hundred.

Then Pakistan made a powerful comeback. India lost four wickets for 45 runs in 11 overs. Then it was up to Dhoni and Pathan to steady the ship, which they did admirably. Let us not forget the important contribution of Pathan to that partnership. He is playing on a very responsible 49.

Interestingly, the partnership between Laxman and Dravid of 197 runs came in 64 overs at a run rate of 3.07, while the unbeaten partnership of 160 between Dhoni and Pathan came in 34.3 overs at a run rate of 4.64.


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