Mumbai, Jan 10: Fearless. Attacking. Free cricket. These were the words used by Yuvraj Singh and new captain Virat Kohli for Mahendra Singh Dhoni to be in his post-captaincy era and that was on show at the Brabourne Stadium today (January 10).
For one last time as the captain of an Indian side, Dhoni came out to face England in a one-day warm-up game on a hot and humid Tuesday. Fans, in large numbers, made their way to the venue, queueing up outside the ground much before the scheduled start of the match - 1.30 PM IST. (Dhoni will be fearless: Yuvraj)
As if to prove his team-mates Yuvraj and Kohli right, Dhoni did play freely and aggressively. He smashed 68 not out off 40 balls, batting at number 5. And as the finisher of the innings, he plundered 23 runs off the final over from right-arm paceman Chris Woakes.
Having lost the toss, India A were sent into bat by rival skipper Eoin Morgan. Thanks to Ambati Rayudu's 100, Shikhar Dhawan's 63, Yuvraj Singh's 56 and Dhoni's hurricane knock, the hosts posted 304/5 in 50 overs. This score was not enough as England won by 3 wickets with 7 balls to spare. (Fan tries to touch Dhoni's feet)
For most part of the match, it was all about Dhoni. The crowd waited to see him bat. And when it happened in the 41st over, fans went crazy. They were on their feet, giving the country's most successful captain a rousing reception.
Rayudu retired at 100 and as he left the field, Dhoni walked into bat. Chants of "Dhoni, Dhoni" filled the venue. And an over-excited fan breached the security cordon and invaded the pitch to touch Dhoni's feet, a scene only reserved previously and seen - for batting legend Sachin Tendulkar.
The man, however, was quickly removed from the ground and Dhoni's batting show continued as the fans enjoyed every bit. He hit 8 fours and 2 sixes to return to the pavilion unconquered and another round of applause was seen from spectators and his team-mates.
Having stepped down from India's limited overs captaincy last Wednesday (January 4), Dhoni has given signs as to what might come from his bat in the England series starting on January 15 (Sunday) in Pune.
A free-flowing and attacking Dhoni, the batsman of the old, has returned. As Yuvraj put it after seeing his innings, "You will see old MS Dhoni. He was that today, fearless and attacking."