Archive for the ‘MS Dhoni’ Tag

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.

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Do not hang Dhoni!

The Indian Media has a chance to get their revenge! How can a cricket captain be so direct (and truthful I might add) and call them irresponsible and get away with it? India’s ouster from world cup has given them the opportunity and they are not going to let go easily. TV and Print media have gone into “Demolish Dhoni” overdrive – an apology from him to the Indian fans notwithstanding.

While I agree that most of the decisions against England and his own lackluster batting were responsible for India’s exit for the most part, I refuse to jump the gun and overlook his excellent record for the past year and half. Captaining the cricket team in India, though rewarding in many aspects, is one of the toughest sports job there is. Even greats like SRT could not keep up with the burden of expectations. MS Dhoni, in the past two years at the helm, has inevitably, made a few mistakes (That delayed declaration against NZ comes to mind immediately) just like any other captain. But overall, his record is very good. IMO, his cricketing brain is better than most of his counterparts.

Back to cricketing front, it would be nice to see how these guys counter the short pitch stuff they are invariably going to get from Saffers in today’s match. It would speak a volume about their attitude towards the game, if nothing else.

The defending champions are on their way out!

I accept it. The team that can not defend 150 or chase 150 against oppositions like West Indies and England should not really be in the race.

There will be plenty of analysis of what was done wrong and what could have been done in the days to come.

However,  the image of MSD taking singles and getting Yusuf back on strike when 60 runs were required from 30 balls will be in my memory for a long time. Such a sensible batting this.