Sunday, June 23, 2024
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Time England realise they can’t sledge to victory

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By Sunil Gavaskar

 Even when he hit that stupendous six off Nuwan Kulasekara to win the ICC World Cup for India, Mahendra Singh Dhoni showed no emotion at all. He just twirled his bat turned back and grabbed hold of a stump as a souvenir of the occasion.

His teammates were all over him especially the non-striker, Yuvraj Singh, who was crying with joy but ‘Mahi’ barely had a smile. That is why his pumping his fists twice after hitting the winning boundary against England in Mohali was a bit of a surprise. What it probably reveals is how much he was upset by the defeats in England.

He had kept it inside and kept on defending his team match after match in England. He was aware that England were due to tour India soon after the series in England and was waiting for the chance not to turn the other cheek but inflict one himself.

How does he keep his emotions in check? Does he ever explode and let fly?

If Sachin Tendulkar is the batsman we all want to be and this is said with absolutely no disrespect to those other giants of batting like Ricky Ponting, Jacques Kallis and Rahul Dravid, then Mahendra Singh Dhoni is the leader and captain we all want to be.

No wonder Gary Kirsten, the previous coach, said that he would willingly go into the trenches with him.

On a pitch which gave them a great chance of winning, England’s bowlers let the team down after their batsmen had got almost 300 on the board.

That total could well have been even bigger, but for the fact that a tiring Trott was unwilling to take the chances as he looked for a century.

England’s players have said that they will sledge the Indians to get them out of their comfort zone and it sure is working, since India won the Chandigarh game only in the final over and not with 13 overs to spare as they did in Delhi, or by a margin of 126 runs in Hyderabad. Mahendra Singh Dhoni has gone on record expressing his displeasure over the language, and while it is accepted that Indians are no saints either, it is about time players realized the bad example they are setting the youngsters who are watching the game.

Sir Ian Botham, England’s greatest all-rounder, never ever indulged in wordplay nor did he need to. If lips rather than hands, feet and the brain won matches, then coaches would have players gargling their throats instead of the other drills that they make the players carry out, and if the vocabulary is limited as it is with most sledgers it ceases to have an effect after the first burst..

History has shown that a funny remark does destabilize a player without causing any offence rather than the abusive one which only makes him more determined to stick it out, but then only intelligent ones understand that and so they never sledge.

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