Bangalore: The Australians may well have scored on the field had the opening ODI not been rain-hit, but Mahendra Singh Dhoni made a point off it.
“Bahaduri aur bewakoofi mein bahut kum farq rehta hai,” was the Team India captain’s response to (stand-in) counterpart Adam Gilchrist’s contention that he would’ve led his team out had umpires Steve Bucknor and Suresh Shastri given him that option.
Clearly, even if Dhoni didn’t want to join in the verbal war between some on both sides, he actually has now.
Dhoni, however, accepted that while his team would’ve gone for the revised target (165 in 20 overs) had play resumed, his batsmen could’ve been affected by the ball slowing down in the outfield.
“That the ODI got abandoned is, I suppose, a fair result.... Whatever the disadvantage to the fielding side, my batsmen could’ve been frustrated by the ball slowing down,” he told The Telegraph.
It would’ve been terrific had Dhoni’s first ODI as captain ended in a win, but an abandonment is a million times better result than losing.
“I’m not saying the match was all wrapped up by us, but we were in a very competitive situation... Getting 307 (for seven) had put us in a pretty strong position,” is what Gilchrist said.
Requiring a massive 308 for a headstart in the seven-match series for the Future Cup, the Indians were on a diffident nine for one (Sachin Tendulkar gone) in the third over when it began pouring buckets at the packed Chinnaswamy.
Plus, it was uncertain whether former captain Sourav Ganguly, who pulled his right hamstring in the 27th over, would’ve taken guard.
The match had to resume by 10.03 pm if the minimum of 20 overs had to be bowled in the Indian innings. As that wasn’t possible, the ODI got consigned to the abandoned category.
Earlier, the Australians recovered from 90 for four, spoiling what had been a promising start to Dhoni’s innings on a new stage. He attemped quick changes in the middle overs, but seemed caught in two minds when Michael Clarke and Brad Haddin began a fantastic 144-run recovery.
It didn’t help that Dhoni failed to stump Clarke on 31 and the flamboyant middle-order batsman went on to score a handsome 130 (132 balls, 10x4, 3x6). Clarke, of course, simply loves Bangalore: Three years ago, he’d scripted a hundred on Test debut.
Clarke, in fact, featured in another stand of consequence — 73 for the sixth-wicket with James Hopes. Clarke and Co. really targeted portly offie Ramesh Powar, milking him for 27 in his last two overs.
If that caught Dhoni off guard, he didn’t exactly show it on the field. Not that he gave anything away when he interacted with the media.
Generally, Dhoni appeared satisfied with his first day in the big office, so to say. “I’d been nervous before my first Twenty20 match as captain (against Scotland). It got washed out and I could calm my nerves... After that, it has been fine and I wasn’t nervous this (Saturday) afternoon... It was good to have seniors around, as I could’ve gone to them at any time...”
Asked if preventing Sreesanth from going overboard was a top job, Dhoni replied: “He’s not a child and I’m not a school principal... He has changed a lot in the past six months and could change even more in the next six... But he’s going to remain an aggressive bowler.”
Saturday marked the introduction of the new playing conditions in ODIs. Neither captain felt a “dramatic change,” though Gilchrist did remark there would now be “more intrigue” over what captains do.
The free hit didn’t make its debut. That bit of ODI history could be authored in Kochi, venue of the second match, on Tuesday.