Manoj Tiwary with a Golden Arm
Manoj Tiwary came to bowl in the 32nd over. He struck in his fourth delivery itself. One would call it a lucky wicket because the batsman Chandimal had gotten to the pitch of the ball cleanly. Instead of using his options to hit the ball in the gap, Chandimal popped it straight into Irfan Pathan’s hands at square leg. It was a wicket thrown away to a part timer. Down at the other end, Jayawardene didn’t show any signs of maturity that he had to. He tried a weird scoop shot to Sehwag (another part-timer) so early in his innings. Dhoni took the catch and sent him back. Sri Lanka lost the ploy there.
In the overs that followed, the two new batsmen struggled to settle down. Dhoni used the opportunity to complete his quota of 10 overs from the part-timers. Tiwary bowled awkwardly at moments – many deliveries were short, some were drifting on the leg side and others were too full and straight. But the Sri Lankan batsmen were too wary to go after him. They had already lost two good middle order batsmen by playing false shots to part-timers and the last thing they would have wanted at that time was to give another wicket to Tiwary. They would have never known.
Dhoni had his own plans with the bowling. Even after the part-timers completed the quota of 10 overs, he stuck on using them. The pan worked. Mathews had played enough of the guessing game and he decided that he had to take on the part timers and use the opportunity to score runs. His plan backfired. He tried to smash the length delivery out of the ground but it ended up safely in the hands of Virat Kohli at long off. Tiwary had his second wicket.
A few overs passed with the batsmen still not able to hit boundaries off Tiwary’s bowling. With the run rate still lingering at 4.6 in the last 5, Jeevan Mendis decided that he needed to play the kind of innings he had played a couple of days back. He looked to take Tiwary to the attack. But like Mathews he was disposed in Tiwary’s first ball of the over, attempting a reverse sweep. In the same over, the golden arm of Tiwary struck again when another batsman tried to hit him out of the park. Perera’s massive strike went high but ended up in Raina’s hands.
To everyone’s surprise, Dhoni finished the innings with Tiwary instead of Zaheer or Pathan. Tiwary must have felt that he deserved the chance. In an anti-climax to his performance, Tiwary was smashed for 3 sixes and a four in his last two overs. The move by Dhoni to use him ahead of his ace bowler certainly backfired on him this time. One would say it was a brave decision which was unnecessary. But that’s what one would have said when the ball was given to Tiwary in the first place. The last two overs might have gone Sri Lanka’s way. But they will still rue the missed opportunity of scoring in the middle overs to give them a good total on a flat track.
Dhoni will be proud. His plan worked quite well. The part-timers were able to pick crucial wickets in the middle overs. Tiwary himself bowled well to restrict the flow of boundaries and chip in with a wicket of an odd delivery. But the Sri Lankan batsman will have to blame themselves for not playing sensibly against a part-timer. Dhoni had another trick up his sleeve and the Sri Lankan are yet to figure it out.