MS Dhoni marked his final outing as India captain in style on Tuesday (10 January) by bludgeoning 68 runs off 40 deliveries – including 23 in the final over – as an "A" side suffered a three-wicket defeat to England in the first of two ODI warm-up matches.
Dhoni stepped down as India's limited-overs skipper last week, less than a fortnight before a three-match ODI series that is followed by a hat-trick of Twenty20 internationals. In one final leadership hurrah at the Brabourne Stadium in Mumbai, he hit 10 boundaries and brought up his half-century with a six over fine leg.
The 35-year-old received a spine-tingling ovation from an adoring capacity crowd after taking to the field following the retirement of Ambati Rayudu, who scored his fourth List-A century from 97 balls but was predictably overshadowed by Dhoni. Opener Shikhar Dhawan struck 63 and Yuvraj Singh added 56 to help India finish their 50 overs on 304 for four.
Jake Ball and David Willey took two wickets apiece for England, while Chris Woakes' bowling stats were largely decimated thanks to that eye-catching final over. The esteem in which Dhoni is held, not that there was ever any real doubt, was further evidenced by a star-struck fan who bypassed security and rushed out to the middle to touch his feet. The umpire's only request was that he did not step on the pitch.
In response, the tourists, embarrassed 4-0 in the recent five-game Test series, almost reached 100 without loss before Alex Hales was undone by a combination of Sanju Samson and Kuldeep Yadav. Jason Roy fell soon afterwards on 62 and returning captain Eoin Morgan had only managed to add three when he was dismissed courtesy of a terrific one-handed catch from Dhawan.
Sam Billings and Jos Buttler steadied the ship after that mini-collapse, with the latter caught four short of his 50. Yadav claimed two wickets in an over after removing Moeen Ali for a two-ball duck, but England piled on 99 more runs before he claimed a five-wicket haul by having Liam Dawson caught and bowled for 41 at a critical point in the chase.
That left England needing 15 runs from the final 24 balls, although they lost Billings in the next over. The Kent wicketkeeper had reached 93 from 85 when he was bowled by Hardik Pandya. However, those two late dismissals did not prove costly as Woakes and Rashid combined for 17 to steer England to victory with seven deliveries to spare.