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Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

Bhubaneswar: All the cricket fanatics are always eager to lend their ears to the interesting stories of the game and we all have heard things among the most bizarre tales ever told.

One such incident happened in June 2006, when India was playing the first Test against West Indies at St John’s in Antigua. Apart from the dramatic draw, a bizarre incident occurred during the match that not many still remember.

It did not create many ripples across the media and the cricketing fraternity then. However, some of the greatest cricketers in the history of the sport were involved in the incident. Then a hard-hitting rookie and a retired Test captain now, MS Dhoni was one of the key protagonists in the story. Another name, probably the biggest name to have graced West Indies cricket in the 21st century-Brian Lara was also involved in it. Though Lara had stunned and mesmerised fans across the globe with his batting, unfortunately, his role in the incident would not have impressed even the biggest fans.

India was beaten 4-1 by the hosts in the ODI series. The four-match Test series was a chance for the visitors to prove a point.

Skipper Rahul Dravid decided to bat first in the first Test. After a fantastic bowling effort from the West Indies bowlers, India was bowled out for just 241. West Indies applied themselves better than the Indians. In reply, West Indies managed to get a 130-run lead after being all out for 371 in the first session of play on Day 3.

In their second innings the visitors bounced back with Virender Sehwag and Wasim Jaffer giving India a good start. Then Dravid and Jaffer added 203 runs for the third wicket, Jaffer reaching his second Test century. At Lunch on Day four, India had a 178-run lead in their bank. Jaffer eventually fell for a 399-ball 212. It was up to Mohammad Kaif and Yuvraj to not only score at a brisk rate, but to take the attack to the West Indies and not lose wickets as the game headed into the final session of day four.

But the runs did not come. When Yuvraj fell, it was perhaps a blessing in disguise. Young Dhoni entered. In what followed, the wicketkeeper batsman from Ranchi, still trying to make a name for himself and become a regular in the Test side, not only clobbered the West Indies bowling attack, he proved to be the game-changer.

Seldom has a cricket ball been hit the way Dhoni did that day. After hitting two consecutive sixes off Dave Mohammed and hitting him for another in his next over, Dhoni rushed to his half century off 47 balls.

Mohammed continued into the 151st over. Kaif took a single off the first ball to bring Dhoni on strike. Dhoni then unleashed his bottom-hand to its best of use. He hit the first six off the over while staying at his crease and sending it over long-on. He smiled as he had a chat with Kaif at the other end and then got back to face the third ball of the over.

He came down the wicket on the third ball and swung the bat to send the ball sailing out of the stadium. The very next ball, a quicker one on the legs by Mohammed met with perhaps brutality at its savage best. It made a cracking sound as it left Dhoni’s bat.

And then came the moment that left the spectators, players and the umpires almost perplexed. As Dhoni tried clearing deep mid-wicket off Mohammed’s fifth delivery, Daren Ganga took the catch on the boundary line. Dhoni started walking as the West Indies players began celebrating.

However, umpire Asad Rauf was not sure. He stopped Dhoni till the doubts were cleared. The question was did Ganga’s foot touch the ropes? Rauf consulted leg-umpire Simon Taufel and then took out his walkie-talkie to ask third umpire Billy Doctrove. The replays proved inconclusive.

Lara then approached Rauf, asking him to take his fielder’s call, as the decision was now to be taken by the on-field umpires. He then went straight to Dhoni, who later clarified it: “Brian came up to me and said, ‘I’m taking the charge of my players and I think you should walk off. What they say is going to be the truth’. Then we decided that I should walk off. He came late to me. Daren came first and it was tough for him because it (the boundary rope) was on his back side.”

Why Doctrove did not take the final call that should ideally have gone in favour of the batsman (the replays were not decisive enough) is quite puzzling. Almost immediately Dravid called his men back, declaring on 521 for six on day four.

The match ended in a draw. Anyway, by the time it finished, it had seen everything. However, on that day, in their own ways, Dhoni and Dravid won many hearts.

#WATCH a clip of the incident from the match uploaded by CricketCloud.


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