The heavens over Adelaide had opened with Bangladesh 66/0 in 7 overs. The target of 185 that India had set for them no longer looked formidable. Staring at an embarrassing loss, and even possibly complicating their semi-final qualification for this World T20, the rains gave Rohit Sharma and his men a welcome break. They would return to the field after 30 minutes and turn tables on Bangladesh to record a famous win.
So what happened in the dug out that changed India from a subdued group into an inspired unit?
The Indian Express spoke to players and support staff to stitch together the tense moments when every hand was on the deck to avert the crisis. “The Bangladesh players were not too keen to take the field since they knew that they were ahead of the Duckworth Lewis calculations. While Rohit and their captain Shakib al Hasan were involved in discussion with the umpires, the dug out was a hub of frantic activity,” shared a team member.
Scoring a cracking 5⃣0⃣ 🙌
Holding nerve in last over 👍
Hard-work behind the scenes 👌@yuzi_chahal chats with @klrahul & @arshdeepsinghh and Fielding Coach T Dilip post #INDvBAN #T20WorldCup clash. 👏 👏 – By @RajalArora
— BCCI (@BCCI) November 3, 2022
The team’s computer analyst Hari Mohan was pouring over numbers, giving every possible input to the players, making them aware about how the target can change after every over. The masseur and trainers were working on the muscles of the entire playing XI. They were focusing more on the bowlers, to keep them warm and their muscles relaxed. Amid all this activity, the throwdown specialist S Raghu was fishing out a brush from the bag.
“Every little thing was taken care of. Raghu knew that the players would have to run on the soggy field and the mud would stick to their spikes. This would hamper their movement and even result in them slipping. This was a game where every little slip-up would have made a difference. Once the game started, he was patrolling the field with the sole purpose of keeping the boots of the players clean,” said a member of the support staff.
What Raghu was doing was beyond his work profile. Hailing from Kumta in northern Karnataka, he had left home to pursue his cricket ambitions in Mumbai in the late 1990s. With his cricketing career not going anywhere, he returned to Bangalore and started helping the coaches and players at the National Cricket Academy. Raghu became a favourite with batsmen as he never got tired of throwing balls at them. Sachin Tendulkar and MS Dhoni would ask him to be around when they trained.
Raghu would eventually be drafted into the Indian team and he would become the team’s Man Friday. Besides, his primary job, he makes sure that every equipment is in place when the players reach the nets. “On match days, like he did on Wednesday, he helps the team in every possible way,” he says.
Other members of the support staff too have gone beyond their call of duty during the manic phase of the match. Masseurs Rajeev Kumar and Arun Kanade, after they had tended to the aching bodies, would get busy with mixing drinks for players.
“Some need protein shakes, some electrolyte drinks and some plain water. These people have been part of the Indian team for a while, they share a special bond with players, they also know what the players’ prefer,” said a senior player.
Support staff works overtime
At this World T20, the support staff has also lent a helping hand to the team when they are fielding during a match. Throw down specialists Raghu and Nuwan Seneviratne, along with Kanade and Rajeev, place themselves outside the boundary rope at the four corners of the field. They ensure that the fielders don’t have to retrive the boundary balls. This keeps the fielders fresh and also takes care of the over rate.
During the anxious moments, the team would keep one eye on the skies and the other at the two umpires Chris Brown and Marais Erasmus.Once the rain was reduced to a drizzle, the umpires had called both the captains for a chat. The Bangladesh camp would send their team manager for the on-field meeting but the umpires 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 view that the run-up of the bowlers was dry and the game could be continued. Rohit tried to pacify the Bangladesh skipper and tried to convince him to play.
Later in the day Shakib was asked if he was against taking the field after the rain break? “Do we have any option?” he replied. Didn’t he try to convince Rohit and the umpires? Shakib expressed his helplessness. “Convince whom? Do I have the ability to convince the umpires?” he said.
When the match did start, Bangladesh needed 85 runs more in 9 overs. With their opener Litton Das playing like a dream before the break — he had scored 59 runs from 29 balls — the target was attainable. But in the break, the Indians had regrouped and would also hit the ground running. Or how else would KL Rahul, on the second ball after the restart, sprint up the field, get hold of the ball and hit the stumps to run out from over 30 yards.