MS Dhoni showed that he is one of the best finishers in world cricket
Mahendra Singh Dhoni led India to a thrilling last over win over Sri Lanka in Port of Spain, West Indies on 11 July 2013. This was India’s second consecutive tournament win, following their Champions Trophy success in June.
With fifteen runs required in the final over, the injured skipper did what he does the best – handle the pressure. At the end of the match, talking to cricket commentator Arun Lal, Dhoni said:
“I think I am blessed with a bit of good cricketing sense. But I thought even fifteen runs is something that I can look for. The reason being the opposition bowler [Shaminda Eranga] was not someone who was very experienced.”
MS Dhoni who came back from injury to captain his in form side, won the toss against Sri Lanka in the final of the Tri-Series tournament, which also featured the West Indies.
Bhuvenshwar Kumar like always did damage upfront, as he sent Upal Tharanga back to the pavilion with just twenty-seven runs on the board. Dhoni caught him behind the wicket for eleven runs.
Mahela Jayawardene playing his 400th One Day International looked dangerous as he welcomed Ishant Sharma with a six over deep fine leg.
But his stay at the wicket was cut short by Kumar, who picked up his second wicket. Ravichandran Ashwin caught Jayawardene at slip for twenty-two runs, leaving Sri Lanka 49-2.
Then began the Lankan resurrection, helped by India’s sloppy fielding. Ashwin and Suresh Raina dropped easy catches of Lahiru Thirimane and Kumar Sangakkara.
Meanwhile, Sangakkara reached his 11th fifty in a tournament final. Ishant fought back for the men in blue, breaking the 122 run partnership as Thirimane was caught at mid-off for forty-six runs [4x4, 0x6].
Ashwin grabbed the crucial wicket of Sangakkara who was caught at mid on by Vinay Kumar for seventy-one runs [6x4, 1x6]. Sri Lanka lost three wickets in the space of ten balls, with the momentum clearly shifting back in India’s favour.
Sri Lanka were now struggling on 177-5 in forty overs. The slide continued for the islanders, as Ravindra Jadeja removed Dinesh Chandimal for five runs.
Sri Lanka were all out for 201 runs off 48.5 overs, losing their last eight wickets for just thirty runs. Ravindra Jadeja was the pick of the Indian bowlers, taking 4-23.
Sri Lanka required an early breakthrough to have any chance of defending a below par total. Right arm fast-medium bowler Eranga did exactly that, with Shikhar Dhawan caught behind for sixteen runs.
It soon became 27-2 when Virat Kohli  became Eranga’s second victim. With Team India in a spot of bother, Rohit Sharma took control of their innings. His 89 ball fifty-eight helped India get past the hundred run mark.
Rangana Herath got the better of Rohit as he was bowled out to a delivery, which stayed low. India were now 139-4 and still in the driving seat. But that’s when Herath turned the game on his head, as India lost four quick wickets in the space of thirteen runs.
Dhoni was like a lone warrior standing tall, but his injured hamstring was giving him some trouble. Ishant was Dhoni’s last partner as the match looked firmly in Sri Lanka’s grasp.
Fifteen needed off the last over, captain MS Dhoni smashed the second ball off the over for a huge six. And from their on it was no stopping the Indian skipper.
His final onslaught saw two sixes and one four in four balls, as India beat Sri Lanka by one wicket with two balls to spare. Once again Dhoni saved the day for India. He remained unbeaten on 45 off 52 balls [5x4, 2x6]. MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli accepted the winners trophy during the post match presentation ceremony.
MS Dhoni showed that he is one of the best finishers in world cricket, courtesy of his last over heroics. But this win wasn’t all about the Indian captain.
The likes of stand in captain Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and Bhuvneshwar Kumar have shown that this Indian team will continually dominate ODI cricket.
With MS Dhoni injured for most part of the series, it was Kohli who led India to two consecutive wins, including an inspiring hundred against the West Indies. MS Dhoni paying tribute to Kohli said:
“Well, I think Virat has done really well. He’s done a very good job with all the youngsters, we’re moving in the right direction.”
Not to forget Rohit Sharma’s contribution at the top of the order, the 26 year old finishing the series with 217 runs at an average of 54. Rohit received an award for being the most trusted player: “I am really happy with the way we performed,” said Rohit.
“The wicket was not easy to play shots, I wanted to delay my shots and wanted to stay as long as possible in the middle. (In the last over) We have seen Dhoni doing it over and over again, so it was not so much of a surprise,” he added.
It was a young Bhuvnesh Kumar who the led the Indian bowling attack, picking up ten wickets in the tournament and winning the man of the series award as well.
MS Dhoni who keeps tormenting the opposition with his finishing skills was declared man of the match. Dhoni has shown once again that he is a terrific player and even a greater captain!