India in Pakistan / Features

Pakistan v India, 2nd Test, Faisalabad, 3rd day

Dhoni's maiden dazzler

Mahendra Singh Dhoni slashed, pulled, hoicked, drove and even defended, and brought up his maiden Test century

On the Ball with George Binoy

January 23, 2006

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At 281 for 5 with Rahul Dravid and Sachin Tendulkar gone, India still needed 108 runs to avoid the follow-on. Shoaib Akthar had his tail up and was steaming in with the second new ball. But Mahendra Singh Dhoni slashed, pulled, hoicked, drove and even defended, and brought up his maiden Test century during an unbeaten partnership of 160 with Irfan Pathan for the sixth wicket.

Shoaib made Dhoni hop around initially but eventually both he and Danish Kaneria went for runs as Dhoni played his naturally brash game. Dhoni took 23 runs off the 14 balls from Shoaib, and his 28 runs of 25 Kaneria deliveries included three massive sixes. Abdul Razzaq managed to slow him down by pitching the ball on a good length most of the time. He went at only 3.56 runs per over against Dhoni.

After negotiating the second new ball, both Dhoni and Pathan rarely looked in any discomfort. Dhoni was in control of 104 of the 124 deliveries he faced and Pathan was even better, in control of nearly 86% of the balls faced. Tendulkar's dismissal had put India in a precarious situation but Dhoni, batting on 13 off eight balls at the time, counterattacked superbly and brought up his fifty off just 34 deliveries. But after tea, he buckled down and his next fifty runs was relatively slower, coming off 59 balls as he and Pathan saw off the final session.

George Binoy is editorial assistant of Cricinfo

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George Binoy Assistant Editor After a major in Economics and nine months in a financial research firm, George realised that equity, capital and the like were not for him. He decided that he wanted to be one of those lucky few who did what they love at work. Alas, his prodigious talent was never spotted and he had to reconcile himself to the fact that he would never earn his money playing cricket for his country, state or even district. He jumped at the opportunity to work for ESPNcricinfo and is now confident of mastering the art of office cricket
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