England v India, Champions Trophy, final, Edgbaston June 23, 2013

Dhoni rejoices after long hard Sunday


The sight of MS Dhoni jumping triumphantly as James Tredwell failed to connect with the final ball of the match will become etched in the mind, just like his iconic six two years back that helped India to the World Cup.

But even on that April evening in Mumbai, Dhoni had not celebrated in such an exhilarating fashion as he did as India won the Champions Trophy. Dhoni later explained why he let his guard down at the end of a long, long Sunday.

"This means a lot because we were playing one of the best sides and also the kind of match that we had won," Dhoni said. "To beat England in a 130-odd game is very difficult."

Although India entered the final as the only unbeaten team, playing England on home soil against their quality fast bowling attack was a challenge that was altogether different. Add to that the pressure of playing a final of a world tournament.

Questions had been asked of Dhoni on Saturday if the Indian middle order, which had not done much batting in the tournament, could stand up to the task if the top order failed. Dhoni responded by saying his batsmen would need to play the situation.

Yet the Indian middle order crumbled under pressure only barring some late fire fighting from Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja. The Indian target seemed small. Dhoni agreed that the frequent rain interruptions did act as a distraction.

"After every few overs our batsmen had to come off," he said. "People talk about getting set, getting used to the pace and then playing the big shots but that was never the case. Whenever the batsmen felt they were set, they had to come off and we had a break of 15-20 minutes. That never allowed us to gain any kind of momentum or build partnerships which were needed. And that was reflected when the middle order went in to bat. It was the main reason why we ended up scoring less than what we ended up scoring than what we had liked to score."

Before India began their defence, Dhoni pointed out upfront to his players that the only way India could win was by working hard and working to the plans: "Before going in I said, Let us firstly get rid of the feeling that it is a 50-over format. It is a 20-over game. We have seen in IPL that 130-run can be very difficult target to achieve."

He also asked them to not to look for the rain to act a saviour. "God is not coming to save us," Dhoni told his team in the huddle. "If you want to win this trophy we will have to fight it out. We are the number one-ranked side so let us show it that they will have to fight for these 130-odd runs. So let us not look for any outside help."

The key was not allow England to build the partnerships, hence it was important to see the back of two batsmen, Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott, both classical and highly successful Test batsmen, as quickly as possible.

"Trott was a very important wicket," Dhoni said. "Cook also. They are two batsmen who look to play through the innings and the others rotate around them. That means if they get they get a good partnership going they can play freely."

The fact that he is the only captain to have won all three global limited over tournaments is something Dhoni will admit is a special feeling. According to him there were similarities in the way India won the 2007 World Twenty20 and the Champions Trophy because the players were hungry to succeed and that had helped raise the overall spirit of the squad.

"There were also quite a number of players who were making a comeback and wanted to do well desperately and be part of the team," he said. "There are a few who wanted to do well and have a settled position in the side."

Nagraj Gollapudi is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Naresh on June 26, 2013, 9:22 GMT

    @contactsai123 - I hope Dhoni's great captaincy is sowing the seeds for the next one who takes over.

  • Al on June 26, 2013, 2:58 GMT

    Agree with @contactsai123 - I would say rather than Dhoni is lucky, Indian team is lucky to have Dhoni as captain. Dhoni - the greatest Indian captain ever!!!!

  • Sai on June 25, 2013, 6:17 GMT

    I would say rather than Dhoni is lucky, Indian team is lucky to have Dhoni as captain

  • Harsh on June 25, 2013, 6:03 GMT

    India deserved to win the title as they outplayed every team in the tournament.It is ironical that the match was on the verge of being banned and only 5 mins were left before they would have called off the match.No other team played consistently well in the tournament and India were head and shoulders above ever opponent outclassing every one with disdain.

    In this game India pulled of a win from the clutches of defeat and Dhoni's inspirational captaincy played a major role.England were cruising home at one stage and finished as though they knew how to lose a game..This match was a testimony to the role of temperament in cricket and a great contest .Amazingly the pitch played like a 5th day turning test match track with spin playing the trumpcard.

    Overall it is a shame that the final was reduced to a 20 over game and there should have been a reserve day.India could hardly prove it's true merit.

  • Dummy4 on June 24, 2013, 17:50 GMT

    Dhoni and Ganguly are the two Best Indian captains. I don't understand why people call Dhoni the luckiest captain they just ignore his skill as a captain. Just have look at his field placement to the spinners yesterday i don't think any modern day captain would have done considering England were chasing mere 130 , that shows his aggressiveness. He deserves his success.

  • Dummy4 on June 24, 2013, 16:39 GMT

    I aint sure why folks keep calling him the luckiest captain..Ofcourse the Captain as good as the side is nevertheless there were captains earlier who had good team members still they just fell short. MSD'S mentoring is just as good as it gets and his school of management has bought the best of jadeja's, kohli's, raina's and sharma's. He just keeps things simple just like him. Many people literally haunted him to make statements to satisfy them and when he didn't make it they took it otherwise... He withstood pressure from all fronts and stood tall :-) I have no doubt in my mind to call him the greatest captains that India ever had.. Its not because he won us the champions trophy but because of what he actually is. He isn't lucky.. He is a cool leader, street smartness and lot of common sense.. Of course not very easy to find this combination and but when you find one like this, this is what it turns out to be .. Just a Wunderful captain.

  • Dummy4 on June 24, 2013, 14:35 GMT

    I think there were 2 performers whose performance in the match went almost un-recognized ... .Ashwin and Virat Kohli.

    Virat's 44 for vital as he stood at the other end seeing India lose 3 great batsmen in quick succession to a mediocre pace bowler -Ravi Bopara, and still managed to cart the very same bowler for two 4's off his last over, Virat was brilliant.

    Ashwin, had dream figures of 2-15 from his 4 overs, but i am talking about his surprise contribution - his fielding. Ashwin was regarded as one of the weak-links of the all-powerful Indian fielding, but he took 3 fabulous catches, at vital situations of important batsmen. Alastair Cook, Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara. the most surprising for me was the Bopara catch... that was a stunner. I initially thought it was either Raina or jadeja who caught a ball that was hammered, but was surprised to see Ashwin get up with the ball.

    Amazing captaincy by Dhoni. He took a risk in bowling Ishant, and it paid off.

  • Rakesh on June 24, 2013, 13:26 GMT

    DHONI is DHONI Captain Cool, If we carefully observe the 2 wide balls bowled by Ishant in the 18th over both were wide of Off Stump with Packed Field on off side encouraging Morgan to play against his favored ON side and he left the 2 balls and both were rightly declared wide and Morgan got OUT on the next ball again wide but slower this time SO THERE WAS A PLAN and well executed in the end.

  • Mohan on June 24, 2013, 13:24 GMT

    Yes Dhoni has been to Indian cricket what Mike Brearley was to English cricket. A captain who manages to get the best out of his players. Come to think of it - for once his own batting has been almost non existent in the tournament and one did not feel it at all.

  • Vijay on June 24, 2013, 13:08 GMT

    The moment I saw Tredwells first 3 deliveries turn big time, I said if we score 125 ...we will surely win....and am I glad I got it right

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