New Delhi: In a report that threatens to shake the foundations of Indian cricket, it has been alleged that a panel of TV pundits adjudicated the Man-of-the-Match award in Sunday's ODI to Indian captain MS Dhoni to 'boost his morale'.
A leading Indian English newspaper on Tuesday quoted a former cricketer, who voted in favour of Dhoni, that he was instructed to give the award to the Indian captain to boost his morale at a time when questions are being raised over his and the team's performance in the last eighteen months.
Some commentators - who did not vote in Dhoni's favour - were completely flummoxed by the suggestion and questioned the rationale of giving the award to Dhoni when others deserved it more. Dhoni was the top scorer in India’s innings of 167 in 43.4 overs, with 36 off 55 balls. And during the team's successful defence of that poor total, the Indian captain took two dismissals behind the stumps, including his 200th catch in ODI cricket. However, there were other more deserving candidates.
Bhuvneshwar Kumar struck two early blows on the way to figures of 10-2-31-2; the debutant seamer Shami Ahmed bowled a record four maidens – the most by an Indian in his first ODI; Ishant Sharma was the most successful wicket-taker with 3 for 36 in 9.5 overs; and allrounder Ravindra Jadeja made 27 (the third-highest score of India’s total) and had an excellent analysis of 10-1-19-1.
It has also been learned that the Pakistan team had lodged an informal complaint over adjudicating the Man-of-the-Match award to Dhoni after the first ODI in Chennai, which Pakistan won by six wickets. In that match, the 23-year-old opener Nasir Jamshed scored an unbeaten 101 to seal victory, but the award went to Dhoni for his 113 not out which took India’s score from 29 for 5 to 227 for 6.
Just like Dhoni, who was chosen the Player of the Match despite India losing the first match, Saeed Ajmal, who baffled the Indian batting with his variations and took 5 for 24 in his 9.4 overs, could also have been given the award in the last match.