In February 2008, India were chasing down a mediocre total of 160 against Australia in the Commonwealth Bank Series at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). It was only the fifteenth ODI as captain for MS Dhoni, and he was at the crease with Rohit Sharma. With 10 runs to win, he called for a needless change of gloves. In cricket, it’s generally with a pair of gloves that you see information arriving from the dressing room. Dhoni was doing the opposite though. He was sending a firm message back to the pavilion. ‘Nobody will celebrate on the balcony once we win this match.’
Meanwhile, in the middle, Dhoni was handing down instructions to Rohit, on how the youngster should conduct himself while shaking hands with the Aussies once the match got over. He wanted it to be as unenthusiastic as possible. ‘When they give their hand, just firmly hold yours out without folding it like an obligation, but don’t overdo it. And just stare blankly at them without any hint of excitement.’
This was back when the Australians were still at their indomitable best. Beating them meant a big deal to any opposition, that too in their own backyard at the mighty MCG. It was a period when Ricky Ponting's team believed that every loss was an ‘upset’ and not just a win for their opponents. India had dominated this particular match from the beginning. Ishant Sharma, Sreesanth and Irfan Pathan gathered nine wickets between them and shot out the hosts for just 159. India had more or less cruised to their target and now Dhoni the rookie wanted to give his all-conquering, world-beating counterpart his version of the cold shoulder.
‘This was Mahi’s way of saying it’s no big deal. My bowlers got them all out for 160 and we are chasing it down, usme kaunsi badi baat hai (there’s no big deal in it). If we celebrate wildly, the Aussies will be vindicated in their belief that this was an upset. We wanted to tell them that this is not a fluke. This is going to happen over and over again. The Aussies simply couldn’t handle it. They were shaken,’ a player from that tour revealed much later.
Yes, Dhoni got the better of the Aussies at their own ‘Mental Disintegration’ game! 😍❣️
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“I have a very simple alternative for number four if India wants to find a long-term quality number four batsman, there are just two options I feel – one is the captain himself, who could be brilliant and so KL Rahul comes in as a quality batsman at number three. I don’t see Rahul as a number four, five six,” Manjrekar told ESPN. “The other guy that India could explore as a number four is Shreyas Iyer. I have seen enough of him to know. A number four batsman needs to have all the gears, and most importantly is picking up the ones and the twos and that is where Iyer has the game and if he manages to survive into the last 10 overs he is ought to have the big game which Iyer has.” He also picked Rohit Sharma for the same position, because he bats down the order for Mumbai Indians and has performed decently well.