England relish their role as Dhoni party poopers as Ranchi plays host to crucial third ODI
20:40 GMT, 17 January 2013
20:41 GMT, 17 January 2013
England can be forgiven for feeling like unwanted guests at a party when they step out for the pivotal third one-day international in the giant shadow cast over the whole of Ranchi by the local hero.
Rarely can any match have been more about one person. This is the MS Dhoni ODI and it seems as though every one of the million-plus people who live in his home city want to be at the brand new 40,000-capacity JSCA International Stadium.
The India captain welcomed the all of his team to the house he has had built here for a reception on Wednesday but now England, who were not invited, have to try to gatecrash the festivities.
When asked if a victory would feel like raining on Dhoni’s parade, England assistant coach Richard Halsall said: ‘It’s his home town, but our players are cold and clinical enough not to think about that.’
The centre of attention: MS Dhoni takes on England in his home town of Ranchi with India looking to take a series lead
It is to Dhoni’s credit that he had a house built in this far from glamorous part of north-eastern India, particularly as the building was attacked by a mob during construction in 2007 simply because he got out for a duck in the World Cup against Bangladesh.
If England are going to take a 2-1 lead, they know the best way is to silence the crowd by quickly dismissing the game’s most destructive ODI batsman.
‘If you bowl at Dhoni’s stumps the ball goes significant distances,’ said Halsall.
Big hitter: Dhoni is a dangerman
‘But when you bowl really well at him, as we did in the powerplay the other night, he has to change his tactics. That wasn’t the usual MS Dhoni during those five overs. He did things we wanted him to do and that’s what we must get him to do again.’
Halsall was succinct in assessing where England had gone wrong in the Kochi crash.
‘We had two very bad patches, in the last 10 overs of their innings and from the 10th to the 15th of ours, and you don’t win ODIs if you go for more than a hundred in the last 10 and lose three of your top five in six overs.’
And there was a defence of Craig Kieswetter, who looked unable to work the gaps during England’s innings.
‘Craig needed to suck up the pressure when we were 70 for four. He held his nerve when people were saying, “We’ve only scored three runs in four overs”. The disappointing thing was he (then) got out.
‘People have short memories. A couple of games ago he and Samit Patel put us in a position to win that first match.’
It is the other keeper who will occupy England’s thoughts.