25 needed off 10 deliveries, a nation’s hopes pinned on one man, a short delivery from Lockie Ferguson makes the batsman uncomfortable and eats up a few seconds to go for the first run. MS Dhoni went for a second run and although it seemed a direct hit from such distance isn’t possible every time, it definitely was on that occasion and clearly, that was where the Kiwis confirmed their status in the final.
MS Dhoni had so many stellar moments in his career, from hitting that winning six in the 2011 World Cup final to running out Mustafizur Rahman in Bangalore in the ICC World T20 group game, it’s hard to pick one career-defining moment in his prolific run. But if he goes on to announce his retirement as various media reports are suggesting, that direct hit from Martin Guptill would be the end of his International career, not an auspicious ending for sure have fine journey.
That semifinal between India and New Zealand will be remembered for many reasons, from Kane Williamson’s outstanding captaincy, Matt Henry’s sensational spell to Ravindra Jadeja‘s fearless pyrotechnics, this game had everything. But for a lot of Indian fans who kept wondering what if Guptill had failed to hit the timber and Dhoni had remained till the end, here’s an analysis of how things could’ve transpired.
NOTE: This is just a prediction of what could’ve happened based on the inputs of some of our esteemed writers.
So let’s imagine two scenarios here, one where Dhoni completed the second run and the second where Dhoni denied the second run.
Scenario 1 – Dhoni completing the second
The equation would’ve been 23 to get in 10 cherries with four deliveries left from Lockie Ferguson. Dhoni would’ve anticipated the number of runs he would want to keep for the final over which was going to be handed to Jimmy Neesham. He would’ve preferred maybe 16-18 runs of the final over, for which he would’ve attempted for another boundary of Ferguson, going by his skill and self-trust, I reckon Dhoni would be on strike with 18 runs to get.
Neesham bowls the short delivery well and takes the pace off beautifully. But then, MS Dhoni is a man made for such occasions, one can expect him to get the better of Neesham. He definitely will deny singles to Bhuvneshwar Kumar, which could put him under certain pressure.
He would probably take it very very close and the only two possibilities here are India winning or the Kiwis winning by a run or two. He definitely will deny singles to Bhuvneshwar Kumar, which could put him under certain pressure.
Scenario 2 – MS Dhoni denying the second run
So if the former Indian captain had denied that second run, the equation would’ve been 24 to get in 10 deliveries with Dhoni at the non-striker’s end while Bhuvneshwar Kumar taking the strike. Bhuvaneshwar previously did a good job in such crunch situations, most notably in the Asia Cup final. He definitely wouldn’t have gone for a slog but the chances of him saving his wicket are pretty high.
In a nutshell, cricket is a game of ifs and buts, and even if Guptill had not completed that breathtaking run-out, India weren’t clear cut favourites Dhoni’s chances of scoring 20 odd runs in the final over are not very high, but Neesham being the fifth bowler in the side, they would’ve fancied going all the way.
Too many wickets had already fallen and the mountain was too steep to climb, hence I would like to conclude saying New Zealand probably would’ve sneaked through by a narrow margin. But a famous one-liner was circulating on social media which perfectly described the whole situation, “The greatest achievement of Dhoni is that a whole nation still believed after 5/3”.
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