The decade of 2000s in One Day International cricket saw numerous encounters between India and Sri Lanka. In fact, these two teams made record in terms of playing most ODIs between each other. No other pair of nations have played more ODIs than these two. In fact, MS Dhoni led India to the 2011 ICC World Cup victory with his 91 not out against Sri Lanka in the final at Mumbai. But, the monstrous knock of 183 not out versus the same opponents holds a special place in the heart of countless Dhoni fans. In fact, this magical knock of 183 came from Dhoni just a day ahead of the holy festival of Diwali on 31 October, 2005.
Sri Lanka’s tour of India, 2005
The Sri Lankan team toured India in the festive season of 2005. Indian cricket was somewhat at a damaged condition due to the controversies involving coach Greg Chappell and axed former captain Sourav Ganguly. Meanwhile, Rahul Dravid took the charge of the Indian team months ago. The tour involved 3 test matches and an ODI series of 7 games.
A rookie MS Dhoni had recently established his place in the team. A hard-hitting wicketkeeper batsman, Dhoni earned fame with his powerful century against Pakistan few months ago. Above all, the long hairy Ranchi boy turned into a youth icon overnight.
First two ODIs
India commenced the ODI series with two convincing wins. Firstly, they beat Sri Lanka by 152 runs at Nagpur. Thereafter, Indian bowlers shackled Sri Lanka to 122 all out at Mohali. The top order finished the chase with 8 wickets remaining.
3rd ODI, Jaipur
With 2-0 lead over the opponents, the two met at Jaipur for the third game of the series. And history was created during this game.
Sri Lankan skipper Marvan Atapattu won the toss and chose to bat first. The pitch appeared to be a bit slow. As a result, the Indian bowlers had a pretty bad time in the first innings.
Opening the innings, Kumar Sangakkara hit a crisp knock of 138 not out. Mahela Jayawardene assisted him with a quickfire 71 in the middle overs. Also, a late smacking from Farveez Maharoof at the death propelled Sri Lanka to a decent score of 298/4 after 50 overs.
A target of 299 is not really a threat these days. But back then in 2005, it was really a daunting total to ask to chase. Team India always possessed fire in their batting lineup. Still, they had history of succumbing to pressure in front of a 270+ target.
In response, Sachin Tendulkar and Virender Sehwag came to open the innings. As usual, Sehwag found the boundary on the first ball of the innings. The stadium was fully packed daring the afternoon heat in anticipation of a cracking contest. They erupted in joy at the first four of the innings.
But, the delight did not sustain for long. On the fifth ball of the first over, Chaminda Vaas cleared Tendulkar off an edge to Sangakkara. The stadium observed a pin drop silence at the moment. Because, at that time game was considered to be over when Tendulkar is gone.
In the last few games, Irfan Pathan was sent to bat at no. 3. The Chappell era is noted for its many blunders, and one of those would be the experiment with Irfan. A young swing bowler Irfan was having a good time with the ball for India across formats. Chappell insisted him to focus on his batting to grow as a pace bowling all-rounder. Not only this move failed badly, it also ended the international career of Pathan as a bowler.
However in this game, Pathan was not sent at no. 3. As the target was pretty steep, the team management instead sent MS Dhoni to the rescue.
The ‘MS Dhoni Show’
Dhoni did not take much time to deliver his explosives to the gallery. In the third over itself, he sent Vaas over the covers for a six. He followed it up with another six over the covers in the fifth. His muscle power turned into the matter of discussion in the commentary box instantly. However, nobody expected Dhoni to score a humongous 183 by the end of the innings.
The first powerplay seemed to be pretty effective for the duo of Dhoni and Sehwag. As a result, India was cruising at 75/1 at the end of 10 overs,. Dhoni soon reached his fifty in just 40 deliveries.
Atapattu sensed danger and delayed the second powerplay. He brought Muttiah Muralitharan instead to break the partnership. Among the Lankan bowlers, only Vaas and Murali were quite experienced on a condition like this.
The move worked as the pair found it bit tough with the field spread across the ground, The run rate slowed down and pressure began to grow. Subsequently, Muralitharan got a clueless Sehwag LBW on the 15th over.
Partnership with Dravid
Captain Rahul Dravid came to the crease next. Dhoni changed his gears and dealt in singles against Murali, waiting for the right time. As the new pair settled in, Atapattu had no option but to avail the powerplay.
Dhoni exploited the opportunity mercilessly. He made extravagant shots in every direction to shatter the spin bowling of both Murali and Upul Chandana. He reached his deserved century in 85 balls.
When Dravid departed after his brief 28(34), India had a target of 114 runs to win from 130 balls.
Partnership with Yuvraj
Yuvraj Singh joined Dhoni after the dismissal of captain Dravid. Dhoni continued his onslaught on Maharoof, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Chandana. Yuvraj also bashed Vaas on his return for three boundaries before falling to Dilshan for 18(24).
Meanwhile, Dhoni reached his first 150+ score in international cricket. India needed now 49 runs from 80 deliveries. The job was almost done.
The finish with Y Venugopal Rao
A young Venugopal joined Dhoni in the crease for the fifth wicket. The Lankan bowlers looked really tired with all the torture from Dhoni. Still, Atapattu looked for a breakthrough.
But, Dhoni had other plans that evening. He smacked two sixes from the 45th over bowled by Chandana. With the first one, he made record of hitting most sixes (8) by an Indian batsman in an ODI innings. Later, Rohit Sharma broke this record against Australia in 2013 with 16 sixes en route to his first ODI double century.
The elegance of Dhoni did not stop there. With 2 to win from four overs, he danced down the track and wildly swung a Dilshan delivery over the midwicket boundary for another six! India won the game by 6 wickets and 23 balls left.
Dhoni remained unbeaten at 183 off 145 deliveries. As mentioned earlier, he went on to be the first Indian to hit 10 sixes in an ODI innings. Most importantly, it turned to be the highest ever score by a wicketkeeper in ODI cricket.
Earlier, Adam Gilchrist of Australia had this record, thanks to his 172 against Zimbabwe in 2004. Dhoni broke his record and he still holds this one to his name.
India eventually won the series by a dominating margin of 6-1. MS Dhoni was adjudged the Man of the Series for his powerful batting display throughout the series. He also made his test debut in the following series versus Sri Lanka.
Dhoni turned into a superstar that day with his knock of 183 not out. This innings indicated how valuable an asset he is going to be in the near future for team India. It was this performance that made Dhoni a batting legend.
15 years later
MS Dhoni announced his retirement from all forms of international cricket recently. He is probably playing his penultimate IPL at this moment. His contributions to Indian cricket as a leader has been priceless.
On the occasion of completion of 15 years of the epic knock, BCCI has shared a video to commemorate it. Here is the highlights of the brilliant innings of 183 not out from MS Dhoni:
Cover Image Courtesy: en:Mahendra Singh Dhoni at en:Adelaide Oval by Blnguyen, Wikimedia Commons is licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 / Modified from Original
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