England all-rounder Ben Stokes’ new book ‘On Fire’ has created an online storm before its release. His comments about team India not showing enough intent to win the game against England in the World Cup last year are making the headlines. Former Pakistan cricketer Sikandar Bakht even claimed that Stokes has written that India deliberately lost that game to knock the Men in Green out of the World Cup.
To the uninitiated, Pakistan needed to India to win against England to have more than a chance to make it to the semi-final of the mega event. But Virat Kohli’s men fell 32 runs short of the target and many were left scratching the heads after seeing the way MS Dhoni and Kedar Jadhav batted. The duo never looked like going for their shots in the last five overs when the required rate was almost 14.
Dhoni, expectedly, was criticised and even Ben Stokes, in his book, mentioned that the whole England team was surprised that he didn’t play the shots. The former West Indies cricketer Michael Holding has given his opinion on the matter and reckons a lot of people write anything in their books nowadays as they have more freedom to express themselves.
“Well, people will write anything in books these days, because people are a lot more free with their opinions and when they are writing books, they need to be making headlines at times. But, to be honest, a lot of people watching that game perhaps wouldn’t have arrived to the same conclusion that Ben Stokes arrived at that India were not trying to win,” he said on his official Youtube channel ‘Mikey – holding nothing back’.
MS Dhoni’s face told me they were desperate to win, says Michael Holding
However, Holding mentioned that he also felt that team India wasn’t giving its 100% in the game and also stated that he realised it wasn’t the case after looking at MS Dhoni’s face. Indirectly responding to Pakistan’s claims of India deliberately losing the game, the 66-year-old said that India might not have played with the same intensity as they would’ve played in a do or die game.
” It wasn’t the game that India had to win, but I don’t think anyone can say that was a team tactic to lose the game. I watched that game and it appeared to me as if India weren’t putting up their 100%, but I realized it wasn’t the case when the expression on MS Dhoni’s face told me that he desperately wanted to win, so I don’t think it was a team decision to not try to win.
“But I don’t think they played at the same intensity as they do for a do or die game. If they had to win that game, we would’ve seen a big more intensity,” Michael Holding further said. Ben Stokes, in his book, also questioned Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli’s strategy as they let the required run-rate creep up to 8 in the middle overs. But Holding backed the Indian batsmen’s move saying that they might have looked to keep wickets in hand which most teams do.
“It (On India starting the chase slowly) all depends on the conditions. It’s important not give wickets early in the innings. I don’t think anyone can question that tactic. It’s not the first time that we’ve seen in WC tournaments, where teams have lost games, you wouldn’t say they were fixing the game, but they’ve lost the games because they’ve figured that they have to lose that particular game to knock out some other team from the tournament,” he concluded.
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