Former Pakistan pacer Shoaib Akhtar has said India can be proud of the way they played at ICC Cricket World Cup 2019 despite their campaign ending in the semi-final with a defeat to New Zealand.
Shoaib Akhtar heaped rich praise on MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja for the way they staged India’s fightback in the tense chase of 240 against New Zealand in Manchester on Wednesday. India did well to restrict New Zealand to 211 for 5 before rain played spoilsport on Tuesday. The 1st semi-final spilled into the reserve day.
India’s chase though got off to a horrible start as they lost Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma and KL Rahul inside the first 4 overs and were reeling at 5 for 3. A steady stand between Rishabh Pant and Hardik Pandya emerged but with both of them going back to the hut, India were reduced to 92 for 6.
While a successful chase looked improbable, MS Dhoni and Ravindra Jadeja gave India a chance with 116-run stand for the 7th wicket. While Dhoni was happy taking the odd singles, Jadeja went all out attack and took the New Zealand bowlers to the cleaners.
“What a match. Wah, Wah, Ravindra Jadeja… very good innings. Dhoni… you are an absolute legend. With your game today, you have proved you’re a great batsman and a great brand ambassador for the team. But unfortunately, that run out changed it. A dive would have changed it. India, you were so close… yet so far,” Shoaib Akhtar said in his YouTube channel.
“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.
“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,” he added.
All hope was not lost even after Jadeja persihed in the 48th over for 77 as MS Dhoni stepped up and smashed Lockie Ferguson over point for a fine six with 30 needed off the last 2. However, a stunning throw from Martin Guptill saw Dhoni getting run out on 50.
Dhoni cut a disappointed figure as he walked back to the hut. India eventually fell short of the target by 18 runs and got knocked out of the tournament. However, Dhoni and Jadeja have won a lot of praise for their valiant fight in Manchester.
Taking to social media, legendary wicketkeeper-batsman Adam Gilchrist said he was always inspired by Dhoni’s calmness and self belief.
Batting great Sachin Tendulkar heaped rich praise on Ravindra Jadeja, saying the all-rounder was determined to something special for Team India on Wednesday.
“He was brilliant. This morning when he got Ross Taylor run out with that direct throw, we in the commentary box were discussing that it could be his day. The way he took initiative in that partnership (with Dhoni), he caught New Zealand by surprise, caught them off guard,” Sachin Tendulkar told India Today.
“There were number of clean shots by him, which were from a batsman who was out there to do something and prove something. I would give him 10 on 10 today.”