Legendary Windies pacer Michael Holding rubbished claims of India deliberately losing the game against England in the 2019 WC last year, but admitted that they were low on intensity levels. Holding, however, noted that he noticed MS Dhoni desperately wanting to take India over the line.
Following Ben Stokes’ claims in his books of him being baffled by MS Dhoni’s approach in the game against England in the World Cup last year, the encounter has come under the scrutiny off late, with several former Pakistani cricketers claiming that India deliberately threw the game to hinder Pakistan’s chances of qualifying for the semis. Stokes, in his book, voiced his confusion over India’s approach with the bat at the death, which was underwhelming, and several ex-Pakistani cricketers used Stokes’ argument to accuse team India of throwing the match away.
However, legendary West Indian pacer and renowned commentator Michael Holding has now come to the defence of team India. Holding admitted that India were not at their fluent best in terms of their attitude and energy, but rubbished claims that they lost the match deliberately. Furthermore, Holding noted that MS Dhoni’s body language suggested that the veteran badly wanted to take the team over the line.
"It was not the game that India had to win, but I don't think anyone can say that was a team tactic to lose the game,” Holding was quoted as saying by TOI.
“I watched that game and it appeared to me as if India weren't putting up their 100 per cent, but I realised it was not the case when the expression on MS Dhoni's face told me that he desperately wanted to win, so I do not think it was a team decision to not try to win.
"But I don't think they went with the same intensity of wanting to win the game, say, if it was a do-or-die situation. If it was, we would have seen a different game.”
Holding, generally known for his witty and sometimes controversial remarks, suggested that people do tend to exaggerate information in books and stated that not everyone would have come to the same conclusion as Stokes, that of India not attempting to win the game.
"Well, people will write anything in books these days, because people are a lot more free with their opinions and when they are writing books, they need to be making headlines at times.
"But, to be honest, a lot of people watching that game perhaps wouldn't have arrived to the same conclusion that Ben Stokes arrived at that India were not trying to win.”
Incidentally, the 31-run win kept England alive in the tournament and proved integral to them winning the World Cup.