About an hour after his now-famous sprint to run out Mustafizur Rahman and seal India’s one-run win over Bangladesh, Mahendra Singh Dhoni would cast aside the poise he had showed on the final ball of the tense game. (STATS || POINTS TABLE || FIXTURES)
The Indian skipper was asked if he was satisfied with his team’s huffing-puffing triumph when the net run-rate scenario demanded a more comprehensive margin of victory. It was a valid question, considering India, firm favourites for the title, had been run close by Bangladesh, a team that played the qualifiers to be in the Super 10. Though, Dhoni didn’t think so. He didn’t even let the reporter finish the question, launching into an angry retort. That customary Dhoni smile was missing.
“One minute, I know you aren’t happy that India won.” Even when the reporter chipped in with, “No, no, I am happy,” Dhoni continued. “Listen to me. Your tone and your question says that you aren’t happy with this result, okay? As far as India winning this match is concerned, there is no script. It’s not about the script.
You have to analyse how after losing the toss, on what wicket we batted, what the reasons were that we didn’t make a lot of runs. If you don’t analyse all these things off the field, then you shouldn’t ask these questions,” he said in Hindi.
But was the question really irrelevant or was it even mildly provocative? The pre-match points table would answer that question. Going into the match against Bangladesh, India were placed fourth in the group despite being level on points with Australia and Pakistan. That was a result of their rather heavy defeat to New Zealand in the tournament opener.
Against Bangladesh, India did need to win by a margin of over 50 runs to ensure that they are safe in case of a three-way battle in their group to qualify for the semi-finals.
It was arguably among the most dramatic Houdini acts that India had pulled off in a world event, but despite ensuring that it took them to second on the table, their net run-rate was still in the negative. So the question about the “margin of defeat” wasn’t wrong, it was merely uncomfortable.
Over the years, Dhoni has reacted to uncomfortable questions with his unique wit. But of late the skipper has let his ‘cool’ image slip, even if only momentarily while facing the media.
Twice since the Australia tour earlier this year, Dhoni has lost his cool while facing questions from the media.
After India had succumbed to Sri Lanka on a seaming track in Pune, Dhoni had burst out when asked about whether India had been complacent saying, “Sir it’s like you are questioning our integrity and I will not answer that.” In Kolkata prior to India’s departure for the Asia Cup, Dhoni lashed out over the incessant speculation over his retirement insisting that ‘if you have the freedom it’s not right to ask all types of questions’.
“If I say something one month or 15 days back, the answer does not change. It’s irrespective of where I’m asking. It’s as simple as what is your name and I will say MS Dhoni. It will remain the same for a considerable period of time unless you give me a new format. There will be questions, you send me letters or requisitions. Because somebody has the platform to ask questions, it does not mean that you keep on asking the same questions. I don’t think I cannot really stop people from asking the questions. If better questions are raised, I will answer 100 per cent for sure,” an annoyed Dhoni had said.
On Wednesday, Dhoni wasn’t merely annoyed, he sounded caustic and bitter. He declared that the reporters’ line of questioning hinted that he wasn’t happy that India won. But aren’t reporters expected to be neutral? Did he confuse the reporter for a fan?
Dhoni’s comments come in the wake of a number of Indian cricketers talking about how the Indian media wasn’t ‘backing’ them.
During the South Africa Test series, where questions were asked about the spin tracks and the home advantage, Kohli had taken on the media. He even insisted that ‘someone who hasn’t played for the country has no right to comment on an international cricketer’.
“You cannot sit there and say how you would have done something differently when you have not been in that situation yourself and don’t have the mind-set of a cricketer,” he had said. It’s a point of view that seems to have resonated even off the field with Amitabh Bachchan tweeting, “With all due respects, it would be really worthy of an Indian commentator to speak more about our players than others all the time,” during the India-Bangladesh match.
Interestingly, Dhoni retweeted Amitabh’s request with an message that said, “Nothing to add”.