Mumbai: MS Dhoni had just sent the Wankhede Stadium into delirium by upper-cutting Thisara Perera for a six over point. That made it 37 required off 41, with six wickets in hand and the World Cup in sight. He dabbed the next ball towards point, took a couple of steps and stopped, and then hared across, realising Yuvraj Singh had come too far down. The single was completed, everything seemed alright, but Dhoni smashed his pad with his bat. The thud was so loud it could be heard from near the sightscreen, despite all the noise from the stands, where the crowd was going crazy.
It is rare that Dhoni makes such shows of emotion. Strangely, the other time he did so was during an IPL game in Dharamsala when he upper-cut his own helmeted face like a boxer after he had just hit the winning six. He had felt under pressure then. The pressure he would have been under coming into this final is quite perceivable. Before Saturday, he had managed just 150 runs in seven innings. He had also made a few unpopular calls as the captain during the course of the tournament. And after a poor finish to their bowling effort and an ordinary start, India's World Cup dream was coming apart.
When Virat Kohli fell to a fabulous return catch by Tillakaratne Dilshan, the seemingly out-of-form captain promoted himself ahead of the eventual Man of the Tournament. It was a sensible move. As Dhoni himself said later, he wanted to split the cluster of left-hand batsmen in India's middle order, but he also thinks he reads Muttiah Muralitharan's doosra better than the others in that middle order.