Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Vexing Question

It beats me. I cannot figure out why this is happening.

Raja B calls him the Fake One Down Player. Sam had earlier written an impassioned defence here and here. The best Indian cricket writer of our times finally gives his take on the subject here.

The popular feeling as well as the informed opinion seems to be that if India are to put up a strong show in the upcoming round(s) of the competition, MS Dhoni would be better off at No 5 or 6 and vacate the number three spot he has occupied 'by force' as it were.

This is a smart player and tactically agile captain - does he fail to see the point? Having led a middling Indian team to triumph in 2007, surely he knows that T20 is all about seizing moments quickly. While 20 overs is a long enough time, the model cannot be consolidate-build-explode. There is no time to have 'a look' at the bowling. (Do it from the dugout if possible). I am convinced that Dhoni knows his strengths and weaknesses as a batsman.

In fact I would venture to say that knowing his weaknesses only led him to what Harsha Bhogle calls "Dhoni Mark II". MSD, somewhere in September-October 2007 realised that the bowlers have figured him out and adopted this mode of play. Why, during the home ODI series defeat against Australia, MSD was outscored by Robin Uthappa in the sense that RU was able to get boundaries at will, with his Hayden like walk down the track, while Dhoni was not quite as effective slogging.

In the CB series, we saw him go into the accumulator mode for keeps. He has figured that works best for him. It also has helped that this team is full of more capable batsmen who are better equipped to get quick runs.

So it is not as if the captain who is so good at assessing, pitch, opposition, bowling attacks and passages of play has failed to get his own batting order optimised.

As I said before, it beats me...


  1. Late,

    I hope this doesn't come back to bite us on the arse later. Raina hasn't even sniffed a bat yet, and Yousaf is out of form. There was such a gigantic opportunity right there for the taking yesterday to just give them a little bat, and yet , inexplicably , MSD walks out (but I'd be lying if I said I was surprised) and does his usual thing.

    MSD is a smart and practical guy for sure, and like you said, I am 100% sure he knows that he has been figured out to a good extent by opposition. But this move's really strange. He needs to evolve a little, but this is not the time to try doing that!

    This also makes me admire guys like Dravid and Kumble a lot more, for adapting and to a decent extent contributing well to their teams even in this format.

  2. YP needed an outing. I felt it too.

    India had got four warm up matches instead of the usual two and the only batting positive out of them is Rohit.

    Dravid and Anil are statesmen. Think of what would have happened if he had done this in place of MSD. Btw, guess you may have seen this...

  3. I think Dhoni batting at 3 has caused a lot of trouble. Problem is that because of him Raina, Yuvraj, YP, have not had a good hit in the middle.. plus Dhoni has failed.. this could lead to problems in bigger matches..

  4. Late , I linked you in my latest post. I hope that's ok!

  5. Q - Yes. Lack of match practice for Raina, Yuraj and YP is a worry for tougher games. Especially YP, because he is an all or nothing type cricketer.

    Fark - Thanks a lot. T20 average/ strike rate comparison you did within the Indian team itself was very revealing. Cheers

  6. Yes, if Dravid or worse, Ganguly had done it, wordslike selfish and self-preservation would have abounded. Dhoni gets a walkover from fans. The media is too busy milking the Sehwag non-issue to harp on the real damage Dhoni is doing to Indian cricket. Stupid guys - this is is a plum opportunity to expose Dhoni's selfish #3 agenda yet the idiots keep talking about the sehwag non-issue, on which Dhoni has the upper-hand. Idiots.

  7. Late, happy weekend! Watching WI take on SA, and the team's beginning to worry me a wee-bit . They seem to have lots of impact players and 4-6 over contributors with the bat and ball, and that's all you need for this format.