Now you knew why Dhoni likes to take break. Here he was going from the frying pan and into the fire, after a short trip to the shooting range.
Dhoni has had his hands full on this trip. Pressure of expectations, wicketkeeping all day, picking the right playing eleven from a pool of out-of-form players, juggling an inadequate attack and, as was the case in the very first session on Day One, playing the role of a fire-fighter with a bat in hand.
Dhoni could have been tempted to give up. Nothing seems to have worked for him since the Lords win. Ishant Sharmas injury, ICCs verdict and the teams sudden slip. On top of all of that, now he was forced to become a full-time batsman.
Unlike Manchester, he didnt have Ajinkya Rahane to help at the other end. Still, in the company of tailenders, he gave India a resemblance of respectability. And by doing so, he also enhanced his own reputation as a batsman abroad. His second 82 at the Oval saw his average in England climb to 38 and he is now the second highest run-getter for India in this series.
Dhonis new found batting confidence showed as a began frustrating the England bowlers by standing out of his crease, planting his foot out and being extremely guarded in pulling out his productive push to the covers. He stonewalled the English bowlers to lose the plot. With Ishant Sharma, he put on 58 valuable runs for the last wicket.
On match eve, Dhoni has spoken about the hardwork he had put in during training and how things were working well for him. The problem I was facing was that what I was doing the nets, I wasnt able to take it to the middle. Thats the big step you have to take. I batted well in the last two games. If I can continue to do that in this game I would be happy. For me, its not about runs but also about how I bat. It is difficult to change technique all of a sudden. We all have our own technique and we need to have confidence in our technique. Still you need to be aware of the limitations of the technique that you have, he had said.
Dhoni the batsman has been on the ball, but Dhoni the captain hasnt. His 82 may yet not be able to change the result of the series.