Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar lauded veteran MS Dhoni and all-rounder Ravindra Jadeja for their heroics in India’s 18-run defeat against New Zealand in the first semi-final of the ICC World Cup 2019. The duo scored half-centuries apiece and nearly pulled off a miraculous chase for the Men in Blue before falling short as India bowed out of the showpiece event after staging a fight.
Indian top-order was reduced to tatters while chasing the 240-run target with the top-order of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul all failing to deliver. The top there were all dismissed on a score of 1 run each leaving India reeling on 3/5 inside 4 overs. However, Dhoni and Jadeja then breathed life back into India’s innings with a brilliant 7th wicket stand of 116 runs.
Akhtar hailed Dhoni and Jadeja for their superlative efforts and said the direct hit from Martin Guptill to run the Indian wicket-keeper batsman out was the game-changing moment. With India requiring 31 off the last 12 balls after Jadeja’s dismissal on 77 off 59 balls, Dhoni hit Lockie Ferguson for a six on the first ball of the 49th over. He played a dot ball next and was looking to convert a single into two on the third delivery when he was caught short of the crease by Guptill, who hit the bull’s eye.
Dhoni departed after a gritty knock of 50 off 72 balls as India’s hopes of qualifying for the final came to an end. While Akhtar hailed Jadeja, he called Dhoni an absolute legend for bringing India close in the contest.
“But hats off to India. India fought back really well. You have done yourself very proud. Jadeja, you have saved the grace. It was a poor batting performance by the top five players. Rohit (Sharma) got a brilliant ball. However, I think Virat Kohli was unlucky as it was a poor decision to give him out. The ball was just clipping the bails and he was given out by the on-field umpire,” he added.
Akhtar further added that Dhoni should have dived to avoid getting run-out while adding that he might well have won the game for India if he was not out. He also termed Jadeja’s dismissal as unfortunate and said the left-hander could have hit the ball for a six on which he was dismissed.
“The other batsmen also did not show much intent until Jadeja came in and played superbly. And so was Dhoni who kept India in the hunt. It was unfortunate that Jadeja got out to a ball that he could have hit for a six. And had Dhoni dived, who knows, he wouldn’t have got run-out and would have taken India across the finishing line,” Akhtar said.
SOURCE: TIMES NOW