Adelaide skies had opened with Bangladesh 66/0 in 7 overs. The 185 target India had set for them no longer looked formidable. Faced with an embarrassing defeat, perhaps even complicating their qualification for the semi-finals for this T20 World Cup, the rains gave Rohit Sharma and his men a welcome break. They would return to the pitch after 30 minutes and turn the tables against Bangladesh to register a famous win.
So what happened in the dug out that took India from a submissive group to an inspired unity?
The Indian Express spoke to players and support staff to piece together the tense moments when every hand was on deck to avert the crisis. “The Bangladeshi players weren’t too keen on taking the pitch as they knew they were ahead of Duckworth Lewis’ calculations. While Rohit and their captain Shakib al Hasan were involved in talks with the referees, the dug out was a center of frantic activity,” one team member shared.
Score a crunchy 5⃣0⃣ ?
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The team’s IT analyst, Hari Mohan, was talking numbers, giving players all the information possible, letting them know how the target can change after each over. The masseur and trainers were working on the muscles of the whole XI. They focused more on the bowlers, keeping them warm and relaxing their muscles. In the midst of all this activity, throwing specialist S Raghu fished a brush out of the bag.
“Every little thing was taken care of. Raghu knew that the players would have to run on the soggy pitch and the mud would stick to their spikes. It would hamper their movement and even cause them to slip. It was a game where every little mistake would have made a difference. Once the game started, he patrolled the field with the sole purpose of keeping the players’ boots clean,” said a member of the support staff.
What Raghu was doing was beyond his professional profile. Hailing from Kumta in North Karnataka, he had left home to pursue his cricketing ambitions in Bombay in the late 1990s. With his cricket career going nowhere, he returned to bangalore and began helping National Cricket Academy coaches and players. Raghu became a favorite of batsmen as he never got tired of throwing balls at them. Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni asked him to be there when they practiced.
Raghu would eventually be drafted into the Indian team and he would become the team’s man on Friday. Also, his main job is making sure all the equipment is in place when the players reach the nets. “On match days, like he did on Wednesday, he helps the team in every way he can,” he said.
Other support staff also went above and beyond during the manic phase of the game. Masseurs Rajeev Kumar and Arun Kanade, after tending to the aching bodies, took care of mixing the drinks for the players.
“Some people need protein shakes, electrolyte drinks and plain water. These people have been part of the Indian team for a while, they share a special bond with the players, they also know what the players prefer”, said a senior player.
Support staff work overtime
During this World T20, the coaching staff also lent a hand to the team when it is aligned during a match. Throwing specialists Raghu and Nuwan Seneviratne, along with Kanade and Rajeev, line up outside the boundary line at all four corners of the court. They make sure defenders don’t have to retrieve boundary balls. This keeps the players fresh and also supports the passing rate.
During the anxious moments, the team kept one eye on the sky and the other on the two referees Chris Brown and Marais Erasmus. Once the rain reduced to a drizzle, the referees called the two captains to discuss. The Bangladesh side would send their team manager for the meeting on the pitch, but the referees insisted on Shaikb’s presence. Bangladesh’s revised target (D/L method) was 151 runs from 16 overs. Shakib had a long chat with Erasmus, complaining about the wet outfield. The umpires were of the opinion that the bowlers’ run was dry and play could continue. Rohit tried to appease the Bangladesh skipper and tried to convince him to play.
Later in the day, Shakib was asked if he was against returning to the pitch after the rain break? “Do we have an option?” he has answered. Didn’t he try to convince Rohit and the referees? Shakib expressed his helplessness. “Convince who? Do I have the ability to convince the referees? he said.
When the match started, Bangladesh needed 85 points more in 9 overs. With their fly-half Litton Das playing like a dream before the break – he had scored 59 from 29 balls – the goal was achievable. But in the breakaway, the Indians had regrouped and were also going to take off. Or how else KL Rahulon the second ball after the restart, sprint down the field, grab the ball and hit the stumps to run over 30 yards.
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