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MS Dhoni and the Deathly Hallows

    Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ajinkya Rahane helped India to their victory; Photoshopped by Kadar Shaikha
Ishant Sharma, Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Ajinkya Rahane helped India to their victory; Photoshopped by Kadar Shaikh

With his leadership in overseas Tests under scrutiny, India’s victory at Lord’s has probably come as a life-saver in MS Dhoni’s career as Test captain. Abhishek Mukherjee and Shiamak Unwalla look at the Deathly Hallows that had come to the aid of the Indian captain.

“Those of us who understand these matters, however, recognize that the ancient story refers to three objects, or Hallows, which, if united, will make the possessor master of Death.” — Xenophilius Lovegood, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

There they were at Lord’s, MS Dhoni’s Deathly Hallows that perhaps gave him another whiff at immortality. India have been acquiring one or two over the years, but it has been ages since they have managed to combine all three. It has taken them 28 years to achieve a victory at the sanctified turf of Lord’s; and nothing short of the Deathly Hallows would have achieved that.

So what were Dhoni’s hallows, really? Let us delve deep into the reasons behind his magical success story…

The Invisibility Cloak

“We are talking about a cloak that really and truly renders the wearer completely invisible, and endures eternally, giving constant and impenetrable concealment, no matter what spells are cast at it.” — Xenophilius Lovegood, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Bhuvneshwar Kumar is the only Indian to dismiss Sachin Tendulkar for a First-Class duck, but despite a decent job — especially with the new ball — in the shorter formats, his Test career had never really taken off. He had also scored a First-Class hundred, but had never delivered with the bat in international cricket.

Then, as the tour commenced, Bhuvneshwar came of age. He scored two fifties and took a five-wicket haul at Trent Bridge. Then came Lord’s, where he played two supporting roles — to Ajinkya Rahane in the first innings and then to Ravindra Jadeja in the second. Then there was the six-wicket haul in the first innings that got lost somewhere in the Ishant Sharma barrage of the fourth innings.

The victory was hard-earned and historic: the blows, however, came from the unexpected sources. Dhoni’s greatest weapon has not been a destructive one; it has tiptoed in disguise upon to the opposition, unnoticed, and had got the job done without drawing attention.

The Resurrection Stone

“I open at the close.” — Albus Dumbledore on the golden snitch, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

India were reeling at 145 for seven on Day One. They were dead and buried, looking frantically for help to arrive from somewhere. One could not bring the dead back to life; but the near-dead Test could always be revived. With the Invisibility Cloak by his side, Dhoni’s Resurrection Stone began the rebuilding, breathing life into the near-dead innings. That stone was Ajinkya Rahane.

“There’s no such thing as a Resurrection Stone!” they sceptics have said. When James Anderson, Stuart Broad, and Liam Plunkett had left the Indian innings in tatters, however, there emerged an individual that believed in himself and believed that he could revivify an Indian innings that was meandering towards an untimely demise. The Resurrection Stone came in handy just before Death struck the Indian innings. And once it lived, the innings grew in stature and virility.

The Elder Wand

“A wand more powerful than any in existence: a wand that must always win duels for its owner, a wand worthy of a wizard…” — The Tales of Beedle the Bard.

They had laid a secret ambush on the enemy under the protection of the Invisibility Cloak. They had been brought back to life by the Resurrection Stone. All that was needed, now, was the final, fatal blow by the Deathstick. And then, down the Lord’s slope came the tall, lanky frame of Ishant Sharma.

He tore down the hill and unleashed one lethal bouncer after another; some got out fending, others trying to hook or pull; but there was no stopping Ishant on the day. Those hapless bits of willow did not stand a chance; they crumbled in front of Ishant’s spell from hell. The green light flashed seven times, five times on Day Five, and they fell, and it was all over.

The scar has stopped hurting Dhoni. For now, at least.

(Abhishek Mukherjee is Deputy Editor and Cricket Historian at CricketCountry. He blogs here and can be followed on Twitter here.)

(Shiamak Unwalla is a reporter with CricketCountry. He is a self-confessed sci-fi geek and cricket fanatic who likes to pass his free time by reading books, watching TV shows, and eating, sometimes all at the same time. You can follow him on Twitter here.)

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