MS Dhoni stumps Tamin Iqbal © AFP
MS Dhoni stumps Tamin Iqbal © AFP

Jasprit Bumrah mis-fielded the first ball of the innings and conceded four. He conceded four boundaries in his second over. A bit later he dropped what ought to have been an easy catch. Suffice to say he did not have a good day in the office. With 17 runs to win from 2 overs, MS Dhoni threw the ball to Bumrah. The pacer, who made his international debut earlier in the year, responded by bowling six yorker-length balls, and conceded six singles. India now had 11 runs to plat with off the final over. FULL CRICKET SCORECARD: India vs Bangladesh, T2o World Cup 2016, Match 25 at Bengaluru

The captain-wicketkeeper had, earlier in the innings, affected a stumping off a wide ball in which the batsman’s foot was behind the crease, but in the air for a fraction of a second. Had the bails been whipped off a moment earlier or later, he would not have been out. But this was a man with the eyes of a hawk and the awareness of a cougar. Sabbir Rahman, who had scored 26 runs in 15 balls, was dismissed not by the bowler but by the ‘keeper. It was not the only moment of brilliance from the Indian captain, whose unbeaten 13 had taken India past 140. READ: India vs Bangladesh, ICC World T20 2016: Six balls that stopped the world

Unfortunately for India, that final over was to be bowled by Hardik Pandya, since the most experienced bowler of the side, Ashish Nehra, had already bowled out in the 18th over. This was the ICC World T20 2007 final all over again. Sreesanth and RP Singh had been made to bowl the ante-penultimate and penultimate over respectively, which gave the newbie Joginder Sharma a few runs to play with. After that it was a matter of keeping calm and forcing an error. Joginder had not quite kept his calm, but he managed to force the biggest error of Misbah’s cricketing career. READ: India vs Bangladesh, T20 World Cup 2016 at Bangalore: India’s stutter, Ravi Ashwin’s brilliance, epic final over and other highlights

Pandya, who had conceded 20 off his first two overs, came on to bowl with Bangladesh needing 11 runs from 6 balls. The field was carefully arranged to cater to his strengths. This was not a yorker-specialist like Bumrah or a wily fox like Nehra. The balls would be full and wide; that was the plan anyway. READ: Why India vs Bangladesh is now more than just a game

The first ball was, sure enough, full and wide, and Mahmudullah could only get a single. The next ball was smacked through cover by Mushfiqur Rahim for a boundary. Bangladesh now needed only 6 with 4 balls to go. Mushfiqur almost did a Misbah-ul-Haq off the next ball, but instead of a top-edge he got the ball off the glove. It sneaked past the diving wicketkeeper, and down to the fine leg boundary. The batsmen already started celebrating. Now 2 runs were needed off 3 balls. The match was essentially over. READ: Shikhar Dhawan and Suresh Raina’s race against time

The captain had had words with Pandya. Nehra had chipped in as well. Despite having just 2 runs to defend, there were more words. The captain would later say that he was not bothered about the time taken in the last over since he knew that when calculating over-rates the time at which the final over began — and not ended — would be considered. So the captain deliberately slowed things down. Bangladesh had just hit two boundaries. The blood was pumping. A win was just one hit away. READ: Yuvraj Singh should bat ahead of Suresh Raina for remainder of T20 World Cup 2016

Pandya sent down an innocuous ball that the batsman could have tapped away for an easy single. Instead, blood pumping, a six was attempted. Shikhar Dhawan at midwicket accepted the catch calmly. Bangladesh now needed 2 off 2. The captain moved Dhawan out from midwicket and replaced him with the best fielder on the ground, Ravindra Jadeja. It was a move almost no one noticed. READ: Shikhar Dhawan’s inconsistency headache for hosts

Mahmudullah — calm, collected, cool, sensible, in-form — was now on strike. Pandya sent down a full toss. Mahmudullah — calm, collected, cool, sensible, in-form — tried to go for gold. The ball was swirling at midwicket, but this was India’s best fielder. The catch was taken, the fielder tumbled, and Bangladesh now needed 2 off 1 ball. READ: Virat Kohli vs Mohammad Aamer: Batman vs Superman in India vs Pakistan T20 World Cup 2016

Nehra, who was by now talking to Pandya after every ball, again came up. The captain-wicketkeeper was a part of the discussion too. The plotting done, everyone took their positions again. The wicketkeeper removed the wicketkeeping glove on his right hand. The ball was short and outside off, and the batsman missed it. The non-striker took off. The wicketkeeper did not throw, but instead races the non-striker to the stumps. He wins; the batsman is run out. The third umpire is called upon, but the ‘keeper knows the result already. India successfully defend 2 runs from 3 balls, and win by 1 run.

A lesser cricketer than the Indian captain and wicketkeeper would have fallen to pieces in the final over. The temper may have flared after the boundaries. The shoulders may have sagged. But this was no mere mortal. This was a man for whom leadership is as much about man-management as it is about tactics. This was a man whose successful gambits had often been attributed to luck. Perhaps it was luck that made the Bangladesh batsmen suffer a collective brain-freeze off the last 3 balls of the match. Perhaps it was luck that the main bowlers had bowled two tight overs back to back at the death. Perhaps it was luck that Pandya, who bowled five wide balls in his first over of international cricket, did not bowl one in the final over. Perhaps it was luck that the right fielders were in place to take the tough catches.

Or perhaps it was all down to MS Dhoni.

(Shiamak Unwalla, a reporter with CricketCountry, is an animal lover and comic, film and TV geek. A fast bowler at heart, he enjoys watching a good, low-scoring game of cricket. His Twitter handle is @ShiamakUnwalla)