Dhoni gets a grip
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After silencing his critics, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has started talking.
On the opening day of the second Test here, the Indian skipper regularly shouted instructions and words of encouragement to his bowlers across the 22-yards and whispered into their ears conspiratorially between overs. In the past, the Indian skipper has been blamed for letting things drift during wicketless spells in Tests, with his stoic expression interpreted as his indifference towards the game's longer version. Within days of scoring his first double hundred, a match-winning effort that saw India take a 1-0 lead in the series, Dhoni the batsman seems to have unshackled Dhoni the captain.
In the final session, India desperately needed a pro-active skipper, and sure enough, Dhoni was at his chirpiest and busiest during this crucial period of play.
At tea, it was 1-1. With the top four Australian batsmen back in the shed and 83 runs on board, the first session had gone India's way. By the end of the second, however, India had conceded 104 runs, dropped Michael Clarke and had gone wicketless. Australia, certainly, had pulled one back.
Clarke had found an able understudy in wicketkeeper Matthew Wade and the duo batted from lunch to tea, taking the score to 187/4. With the visiting captain leading the fightback, and India losing the initiative, it seemed like the England series all over again. Such fears aren't entirely misplaced, especially when your team has lost the last series 2-1 after leading 1-0.
As a gentle breeze picked up pace late afternoon, the Indians too seemed to have got a second wind. The spinners, playing delightful one-twos, drew circles around the Aussie batsmen. In an inspired move, Dhoni stuck to Harbhajan Singh all through the final session and later banked on Ravindra Jadeja when the ball started turning sharply. Harbhajan and Jadeja's final-session figures — 13-1-31-2 and 6-2-10-3 respectively — resulted in Australia folding for 235/9 declared.
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