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Sunday , January 20 , 2013
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A perfect game takes India back to No.1 spot in the ODI rankings

Virat Kohli, on way to his 77, in Ranchi, on Saturday

Ranchi: Mahendra Singh Dhoni wanted the “people of Jharkhand” to make Saturday’s ODI “very special.” They played their part admirably, but his teammates scripted the perfect game.

The seven-wicket win gave India a 2-1 lead in the five-match series and the selectors, rightly, chose to retain the XV for the last two ODIs as well.

Additionally, and this is great news, India are now back as No.1 in the 50-over format. England are a point behind, on 118, in the ICC rankings.

That the winning runs (a boundary) came off Dhoni’s blade made it an even more memorable beginning as an international venue for this fanatical city.

England’s captain Alastair Cook, though, wasn’t impressed. “I’m sure Dhoni is very happy with things, but at this moment, I have no interest in the fairytale.”

A bit sour, but two big defeats in succession have forced a strong reality check on Cook. Last month, he’d led England to a memorable win in the Test series.

The day, in fact, had many winners: India, Dhoni, Virat Kohli, the superb JSCA International Stadium and the JSCA president, Amitabh Choudhary.

Most relieved was Choudhary, a senior IPS officer and the state’s special secretary, home.

“It’s a massive relief that our first attempt at a new stadium was clean... That India made it so handsomely proved to be the proverbial icing on the cake. The record at the Keenan isn’t good, but it’s a terrific start in Ranchi,” Choudhary told The Telegraph.

Dhoni won the toss and decided to field, a move which clicked, for England never quite had the momentum and their last nine wickets fell for as few as 87 runs.

“Bowlers did the job for us,” was the first comment from Dhoni at the presentation. Not that he didn’t, for example, highlight MoM Virat’s effort (an unbeaten 77).

In keeping with his character, Dhoni made no mention of his own ’keeping, which was outstanding.

Virat and Yuvraj Singh had a commanding partnership, 66 for the third wicket, and while there were cheers in plenty, the odd prayer was also mumbled.

A little unusually, for one of them to get out, in the hope that Dhoni would promote himself!

Yuvraj fell for a racy 30. The deafening roar which followed left no one in doubt as to who was replacing him.


The captain didn’t have much to do, but it was “paisa vasool” for the nearly 40,000-odd who became part of history.

It’s interesting that Dhoni had been resisting calls to promote himself, to No.5, and only moved up to satisfy the crazy fans.

But there’s a story behind the promotion. So, over to Dhoni himself...

“I understood that people would love to see me bat up front, with the match being held here, but the priority was to win... I’m not just for the people of Ranchi...

“So, we had to use the best option at that point... I was sitting next to (Suresh) Raina, who was up next, and he said ‘why don’t you go out there’...

“It did not look like a wicket would fall but, fortunately or unfortunately, Yuvraj got out...”

This tale, too, wouldn’t please Cook.

India and England head to Chandigarh on Sunday afternoon.

The stadium’s next big moment, meanwhile, would be during the IPL, when champions Kolkata Knight Riders play two matches here.

To get a first-hand feel of the action at a new venue, an IPL team was present right through the ODI.

As Dhoni told this Reporter the other day, even the best can be made better. That’s a refreshing attitude to have.