Cricinfo: Sri Lanka v India 2008 Cricinfo Intel

3rd ODI: Sri Lanka v India at Dambulla, Aug 24, 2008

Dhoni sets a fine example

Mahendra Singh Dhoni

In a match with two fighting half-centuries, it was hard to pick which was the better effort. Mahela Jayawardene's 94 was a back to the wall effort when Sri Lanka had lost their top order for nothing. His opposing number Mahendra Singh Dhoni's 76 too led India out of trouble but his knock made the difference in the result.

Dhoni had rescued India in the second one-dayer with a patient 39 and today he was called upon to arrest a similar middle-order wobble. India began briskly thanks to Virat Kohli but a sudden spurt of wickets set them back. By the 25th over, India were at 97 for 4 and Dhoni had just walked to the crease. Dhoni had Suresh Raina for company and the pair buckled down with a workmanlike partnership to repair the innings.

Raina needed runs, and with his captain for company, accumulated steadily with the spinners operating from both ends, and never at any stage did the Indians get bogged down. Dhoni was comfortable against Ajantha Mendis, committing himself forward to smother the spin of the full-length deliveries, but when the length was short, he rocked back and cut and pulled for runs. He punched a boundary past point, before pounding two more through the on side. His intention was to attack Mendis and that proved crucial.

The running between wickets was excellent throughout and with the field spread out, he was constantly on the lookout for runs. Dhoni was fortunate to find an equally able partner in Rohit Sharma, who calmly rotated the strike. The partnership came at a quicker rate than the Dhoni-Raina stand, with the pair bringing up their fifty stand in 55 balls. Dhoni brought up his own half-century off 64 balls and celebrated it with successive boundaries off Murali. He gave him the charge, carting him over his head before driving through the off side. He fell in the 49th over with a tired shot to cover but by then he had done enough to set the platform for victory.

ODI 1 | ODI 2 | ODI 3 | ODI 4 | ODI 5
Test 1: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4
Test 2: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4
Test 3: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4