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.


4 comments so far

  1. Sashank on

    Well, there seems to be more thought in the batting order than you perceive. The essential strategy seems to be that there will always be one batsman attacking while another anchors. Among the openers, Sachin is the designated anchor. So, when he’s out is generally when Dhoni walks in, filling-in for the anchor’s role. But, if Sehwag is out, then out comes another aggressive batsman (mostly Gambhir). The whole strategy of Team India’s batting seems to revolve around Sachin or Dhoni anchoring the innings, and in the few cases that both of them fail, the responsibility is entrusted to someone else (again, mostly Gambhir).

    It’s unfair to make it seem like Dhoni has his own selfish agenda. If you’ve noticed, over the last couple of years, he’s been very consistent at all positions – not just at no. 3.

  2. amy on

    I hear this many times, since MSD is a captain he takes decision to his advantage. But if we look at it carefully watever he does, it really does make an impact and he eventually wins matches for india. His contribution towards the victory is huge no one should deny that, sometimes with bat, most times with the keeping and as a bonus pack he bowled to win matches too!

  3. Rishabh on

    Exactly Sashank – at Gwalior, Sehwag got out and in came a flashy batsman (Karthik) to play some shots while Sachin ‘anchored’. When DK got out, it wasn’t Dhoni again, but another aggro batsman, Yusuf Pathan. From what we saw of Dhoni’s form, he could have made an easy hundred coming a bit higher up the order.

  4. Balaji on

    I disagree. It’s well discussed how MSD has changed his approach, from a dashing hitter to a nudger, when the time calls for it. His coming at no 3 when the team is doing well isn’t for his own selfish reasons, he justs hits the long ball more consistently then the rest of the guys. Yusuf will give you a quick fire 30-odd, but he’ll invariably get out. As is the case with the other relative newcomers. When the chase is big, he sends in these guys early as a quick boost will undoubtedly help MSD, who then comes in and anchors the innings quite magnificently. I have to admit, I do not know MSD and can’t comment on him being selfish, but his tactics have, more often then not, helped Team India win.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: