The small group of Indians that hit the road to Manchester from Southampton late on Friday last week was disappointed but not dispirited. It had been a long day for Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Ravichandran Ashwin, Gautam Gambhir and Ravindra Jadeja, who had stayed back for the hearing of the Jadeja-James Anderson case. The verdict passed by the judicial commissioner hadn’t gone their way as the Level 3 charge against Anderson couldn’t be proved.
After six long hours of cross-questioning, witness accounts and the eventual unexpected clean chit to the England pacer, the Indian camp decided to hold on to a positive thought floated by one of them. It lifted the gloomy mood that was brought about by what they thought were lies, bias and injustice. “Don’t know about the other side, at least we can sleep peacefully, without any guilt,” one player said. The statement was received by wise, smiling nods.
Four days later, as the eve of this crucial fourth Test coincided with the ICC deciding not to appeal against the decision and therefore officially burying the spat, Dhoni was again seeing the same silver lining. At the pre-match press conference he repeatedly asserted that his team members weren’t looking back. They weren’t, he insisted, counting sheep under their blankets thinking about Nottingham, the corridor without a camera and Anderson.
“At the end of the day, I want to be happy when I look in the mirror and sleep well. Because the kind of pressure environment we have, we need to sleep well and not worry about what we are going to do or say the next day,” he said.
He said all that after a light-hearted disclaimer about him not being a drinker and thus not used to nursing a hangover. The dark night didn’t linger on the morning after. Nottingham and Southampton were pit stops left behind on the journey as Dhoni opted to look ahead at Manchester.
He didn’t get provoked by questions about the local media’s personal attack on him, the ICC’s inconsistency or his counterpart Alastair Cook’s statement that he wouldn’t ask Anderson to shut up. Dhoni, in turn, spoke about the lack of evidence, his opposition to players making a physical contact and how he was merely raising an issue that was very important for the spirit of the game.
No talk of vendetta
Right from the start of Dhoni’s presser, it was clear that the ‘push-abuse’ incident wasn’t a