In MS Dhoni’s second last Test match back in 2014 he pulled off a magnificent instinctive run out to send Aussie dangerman Steve Smith packing. Unforgettable!
The Aussies were 1-0 up in the series and chasing just 128 for the win, but some inspired bowling by Ishant Sharma (aided by Dhoni holding two catches) gave India a sniff of a win as the hosts were reduced to 85/3. Dhoni held another catch down the legside to reduce Australia 114/4, and then two wickets fell with the score on 122 as India fought gamely to level the series.
It was too little too late, however, as the Aussies secured the win by four wickets, going on to claim the 4-Test series 2-0.
The 5th wicket to fall, however, was an unforgettable run out as Steve Smith pushed for a second run against the throw from around halfway to the boundary from Umesh Yadav.
With Smith running for all he was worth, the throw-in was just slightly away from the stumps, which meant Dhoni didn’t have time to collect the throw and swing it around to the stumps to run Smith out.
Instead, Dhoni proved his genius by having the awareness and composure to realise that he didn’t have time to break the stumps conventionally… so instead he deflected the ball onto the stumps! That might seem easy, but considering that it’s a hard cricket ball being hurled at you from around 40 metres away (with Dhoni facing towards the setting sun), it took absolute control and mastery by this cricketing legend to pad the ball onto the stumps.
It also highlighted Dhoni’s competitive nature – without cheating, the true competitor will adapt and innovate in whatever ways he or she needs to in order to beat an opponent.
Umpire Marais Erasmus needed to consult the 3rd umpire as the race was so tight to the naked eye, but the third umpire was able to easily confirm that Smith was indeed short of his mark as the ball broke the wicket.
The margin of error, however, proved so tight that the only way Dhoni could have completed the run out was by gloving it onto the stumps the way he did.
Superb awareness and invention by Dhoni under pressure. Magically done, sir!
Music: Les Toreadors from Carmen by Bizet (YouTube music library)
Match highlights: Cricket Australia (YouTube)