England have decided that attack is the best form of defence against the flashing blade of MS Dhoni for the remainder of the one-day series in India.
Dhoni was given a hero's welcome on Wednesday evening when both teams arrived in Ranchi,the capital of his home state of Jharkhand, which will stage its first ODI on Saturday at a new 40,000-capacity stadium that has been largely inspired by his rise to the captaincy.
His innings of 72 from 66 balls, 41 of which came from the last 22 balls he faced, took Tuesday's match in Kochi away from England, leaving the series level at 1-1 with three to play. Alastair Cook admitted that trying to contain Dhoni, who he described as "the best in the world" at plundering runs late in a one-day innings, is an even more thankless task because of the new ODI regulation permitting no more than four boundary fielders in the closing overs.
But Steve Finn, one of the England bowlers who have that unenviable job – and whose figures were dented by Dhoni's late assault in Kerala – believes that taking wickets is the only answer. "It's difficult when they have wickets in hand," said the Middlesex quick who had two for 26 from his first eight overs before conceding 25 from his last two. "It's our job to get them more wickets down earlier, and put them under pressure earlier in the innings. We had them two down early on – it's that next period that is important for us now. If we can get into the middle order quickly it will prove a stumbling block for them moving towards the end of their innings."
Finn was too diplomatic to point out that England were convinced they had dismissed Dhoni early in his innings, and even conceded that the incessant din of a crowd of somewhere between 50,000-70,000 – estimates continue to vary wildly, but all the England players agreed it was the most consistently noisy they had experienced – left the inexperienced umpire Vineet Kulkarni with little chance of hearing a thin edge.
Chris Woakes was the bowler on that occasion, but Finn was the victim of the worst decision of the match when he was given out caught-behind by the experienced Australian Steve Davis, long after the game had gone. The whole match could be seen as further evidence of the need to introduce the Decision Review System for all international cricket, and Yuvraj Singh might now agree after being given out lbw off the bottom edge.
"Ideally it would be unified, if there is DRS they should have it everywhere, I suppose," said Finn. But England will not be holding their breath.
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