Kolkata, Feb 26:
Mahendra Singh Dhoni notched up his maiden List A hundred for Jharkhand to guide the side to a comprehensive 78-run victory over Chhattisgarh in a group D Vijay Hazare Trophy one-day fixture here today.
Dhoni survived some anxious moments en route a 107-ball 129 but the effort was just enough to steer the team home.
Chhattisgarh skipper Mohammed Kaif won the toss and sent Jharkhand in and Jharkhand were looking down the barrel at 43/5 in 14.4 overs.
But former India skipper along with Shahbaz Nadeem (53 from 90 balls; 4×4, 1×6) propped the total to 243/9 with a handsome 151-run seventh-wicket partnership that came off 166 balls.
The Indian icon’s career-best in domestic one-dayers was studded with six sixes and 10 boundaries but it was not a typical Dhoni knock as he survived a few close calls before reaching his first century for Jharkhand.
The first life came when he was yet to open his account and stayed on after a loud caught-behind appeal against Abhuday Kant Singh (4/33), the wrecker-in-chief for Chhattisgarh.
Later, he survived a close leg-before shout from debutant legspinner Shubham Agarwal that hit Dhoni on the backfoot when he was on 34.
On 95, Dhoni was dropped by Kaif, a regulation catch at short extra cover. Dhoni stayed on till the last ball and was finally dismissed by a Shourabh Kharwar (1/53) when a skier was taken safely by glovesman Manoj Singh.
But by then, Dhoni had rescued Jharkhand from being on the mat.
This was Dhoni’s 17th List A century, which included 10 in ODIs, and first in domestic one-dayers since February 8, 2005 when he had scored an unbeaten 102 for India Seniors in the Challengers Trophy against India B.
Dhoni scored a century for Bihar against Assam during the Ranji One-Dayers in 2003-04 but never had a century for Jharkhand and he bettered that today with a career-best knock at domestic level. Dhoni also has two centuries each for East Zone and India A.
In reply, Chhattisgarh innings folded for 165 in 38.4 overs as Dhoni brilliantly shuffled his bowlers with Varun Aaron and Shahbaz Nadeem claiming three wickets each.
Reduced to 69/3 inside 16 overs, Kaif looked to build the innings but Dhoni ended the Chattisgarh captain’s stay with a run out for 23 before Nadeem ran through the tail with his 3/36.
This was Jharkhand’s first win in two matches, while Chhattisgarh began their campaign with a loss.
Dhoni completed his 50 in 71 balls, stepping out to hit Agarwal over long-on boundary. He was taken off the attack after conceding 36 from his five.
The skipper also targetted off-spinner Sahil Gupta, another debutant and hit him for two consecutive sixes and then two successive fours in the 46th over that yielded 23 runs. Nadeem at the other end gave fine support with his 90-ball 53 (1×6, 4×4).
While Jharkhand took 33.4 overs for the first hundred, Dhoni and Nadeem’s urgency ensured that their next hundred came off just 12.3 overs. Dhoni brought up his century in 94 balls with a six off seamer Pankaj Rao over long on in the 48th over.
Meanwhile, Karnataka who defeated Jharkhand yesterday picked their second successive victory when they beat Services by four wickets at Jadavpur University second campus ground at Salt lake. They now lead group D with eight points.(PTI)