Jan 072013

NEW DELHI: The decision to give MS Dhoni the Man of the Match award at Sunday’s ODI against Pakistan surprised many watchers. Though the skipper had top-scored for India with 36, his wicket-keeping wasn’t top-notch and he dropped the catch of his opposite number, Misbah-ul-Haq. Sources said Dhoni wasn’t the frontrunner for the award but pipped others to the post at the last minute.

The MoM awardee is chosen by a jury of commentators. Sources said the commentators who voted for Dhoni claimed that the choice was unanimous. However, one former cricketer who voted in favour of Dhoni told TOI that Dhoni was given the award to boost his morale at a time when the time wasn’t doing well.

The decision so surprised some commentators — who were not involved in the decision-making — that they questioned the rationale of giving the skipper a ‘consolation prize’ when others deserved it more.

For most who saw the game, the top contenders for the prize were Jadeja, who had chipped in with a useful 27, bowled an economical spell scalping the wicket of Umar Akmal as well taking a brilliant catch in the deep. He also fielded brilliantly throughout the game and could have claimed another wicket but for the dropped catch.

Pakistan’s Saeed Ajmal was almost unplayable as he teased and toyed with the Indian batting to claim his career best ODI haul, five for 24. He was another contender. Medium pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar was also in the running for his magical opening spell.

According to sources, the Pakistan team unofficially complained to the commentators for not choosing opening batsman Nasir Jamshed as the MoM in the opening ODI match played in Chennai. Jamshed had scored a match-winning century but the award was given to Dhoni for his brilliant ton in a losing cause. The Pakistan team management felt the MoM should have gone to the winning team.

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