When Hardik Pandya got out in the 44th over, India had a little over 5 overs to get 70-odd to beat England and become the second team to reach the semifinals. When Kedar joined Dhoni India needed to get 71 off 31 balls, to be precise. As England’s Chris Woakes bowled the final over, India needed 44 to win. “But in the previous 25 deliveries, Dhoni and Kedar had played out five dots, 18 singles (can you believe it – 18 singles!!!!) and just two fours!” – so reported EspnCricinfo. Some spectators upon beholding this sham – this shame – walked out booing the “boring brothers in crime” – Dhoni and Kedar.
I remember watching the final over of the 2016 T20 World Cup Finals in Kolkota. The match was between England and West Indies in the Eden Gardens. When West Indies needed 19 runs in the final over, Carlos Brathwaite, “swung for the hills” as the commentators said. That is, he swung his bat so hard, that even mishits would go for a six or had the power to go over a hill! He did the same in the 2019 World Cup in his breath-taking and nearly-match-winning 100 versus New Zealand – easily the best batting performance we have seen in the 2019 World Cup thus far.
Did we see such a ‘ants-in-the-pants’ feeling of getting on with it, a “I-will-hit-whatever-delivery-they-bowl-at-me” intent, a “India-will-lose-if-I-don’t-get-boundary-after-boundary-in-this-over” restlessness from Kedar and Dhoni? Nope. I wonder why. Dhoni and Kedar would never dare to bat this wasteful way when they play for Chennai Super Kings – would they? Why? Their team owner won’t spare them. Here, Kohli-Rohit cover-up such baffling batting buffoonery in press-conferences and do a great disservice to Indian Cricket. And mind you, India lost this game by only 31 runs. If the Kedar-Dhoni duo had tried to hit five sixes in the 18 balls they took inconsequential singles in Overs 45 through 50, India would have won the game, I would say!
I remember, when Dhoni was the captain of the side, he was a different man. He would pull-up Sehwag, Gambhir and Tendulkar and say that this trio could not be in the XI together because of their on-field slowness and had a hard time hiding them. When he could pull up seniors in the squad, why doesn’t he pull himself for his repeated slow batting (remember the Afghanistan game)? I recall the Scripture that goes this way: “You therefore who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that one should not steal, do you steal? You who that one should not adultery, do you commit adultery? ….For the Name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you!” (Rom. 2:21-24). Let us practice what we preach. Jesus issued a quote about prayer in Gethsemane (Watch and pray, otherwise temptation will overpower you) and slumped right after onto his knees and prayed (Luke 22:40-41). He practiced what he preached and we too must!
The lack of intent of Dhoni-Kedar is contrasted by the intent that Apostle Paul showed when it came to his Daily Holy Living and Rigorous Gospel Proclamation. Paul used sports imagery to convey this very thing. He wrote, “So I don’t run aimlessly. I don’t let my eyes drift off the finish line. When I box, I don’t throw punches in the air! I discipline my body and make it my slave so that after all this, after I have brought the gospel to other, I will still be qualified to win the prize!” (I Cor. 9:26-27, The Voice).
Loss of intent when it comes to spiritual battles is to concede defeat to temptations even before temptations comes to you. Some husbands may not have any intention whatsoever to beat the bed temptation (be it porn-watching or actual sex outside of marriage) or the bottle temptation when your wife goes on an office tour. They trip in that temptation every time without offering a semblance of a fight after knowing that there is a ‘war inside your soul’ – 2 Peter 2:11). Repent! Some wives will indulge in romance-laced conversations with office colleagues and delete the relevant chat history every weekend with no intention of winning over that temptation. Repent! The Scripture is clear: “Everyone who confesses the name of the Lord must turn away from wickedness” (2 Tim. 2:19).
Will God forgive the sin you are planning to commit without showing any intent of staying away from it? Absolutely. But guess what? When you commit such sins, you change in the process of sinning! Yes, you are transformed during the course of that premeditated transgression – transformed into a person like Judas who never came to Jesus to ask for forgiveness even though he knew he had blundered only to land in eternal hell. Your heart becomes hard. And you come to place of no return. And once that happens the Holy Spirit will not speak to you (Gen. 6:3, 2 Kings 24:4 – Did that happen to Manasseh, the most serially stubborn leader among God’s people?). Post that, it’s only a down-ward spiral into eternal Hell, I’m afraid.
I believe, Kohli should be bold and take some tough calls in India’s next game versus Bangladesh (on 2 July 2019). Dhoni and Kedar should be dropped for atleast one game as a disciplinary measure. And Dinesh Karthik and Ravi Jadeja should play instead of them. And before the Holy Spirit stops speaking to your stubborn heart for your continued “lack of intent” when it comes to beating temptations and winning over sin consistently, pull your socks up, enabled by God’s grace!
(Duke Jeyaraj is the founder of Grabbing the Google Generation from Gehenna Mission – the G4 Mission. This is a reader supported Indian ministry to presentday people. Find out more at www.dukev.org or via WhatsApp at -91-8886040605 or via Facebook at www.facebook.com/dukebook).