Archive for September, 2009|Monthly archive page

Dhoni’s No. 3 Position – An Average Booster or something more?

Scenario 1:
India, batting first, are 85/1 at the end of 15 Overs, One of the openers is still going strong, and other just got out after making a significant contribution. Pitch is a beauty to bat on. Now, Guess who will you see walking out to bat? Yes, You guessed it right, the captain himself, taking this huge responsibility on his very strong shoulders.

Scenario 2:
India are 80/1 chasing 300 something under lights, batting is not easy, there is some assistance in the pitch for the bowlers, and who do we see walking out? Most probably the designated #3 or a guy playing his 5th International ODI.

So what does this imply?

Yes we know it is hard to keep up an ODI average above 50. Ask Michael Hussey, the stark realty of variable form is catching up with him. Unfortunately for Hussey, he does not lead the Australian side and can not make the decision at which position to play by himself. Well, if he ever gets to make that decision, he can take inspiration from the Indian Skipper.

Initially, under Rahul Dravid’s captaincy, MSD had been assigned to the No. 3 position to leverage his hard hitting abilities on flat tracks. That 148 against Pakistan in Visakhapatnam and 183 against Srilanka in Jaipur being the notable examples. However, It did not become a standard practice mainly because his technique and footwork were not trusted with in challenging conditions.

Soon after Rahul Dravid stepped down and Dhoni was trusted with the responsibility. Around that time, the concept of flexible batting order was coined. While the concept is good and applied successfully by some of the teams in the limited overs game, it brought mixed results for the Indian outfit.

This was also around the time where MSD started utilizing himself frequently as # 3 mostly to the team’s advantage. Everybody was happy since big run chases were made and big totals were posted during this era. India had a good balance of early smashers, middle order anchors and hard hitting finishers in the batting line up. However, this all has changed a bit in last few months. When India is chasing a big total, in a difficult situation, with either of the opener(s) gone early, you expect to see someone like MSD walking out and anchoring the chase. But mostly you will see a different man walking out, not the captain himself. Compare two matches in the recently played Compaq cup series, and you will know what i am talking about. Same pattern falling into place in the ongoing Champions Trophy match against Pakistan. So, make notes, Mr. Hussey, That is how you keep your average from going below 50! It is going downwards very quickly.