India under Dhoni

Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Indian cricketer. 4 Test...
Image via Wikipedia

A chat discussion came up with the following questions quoted to me

Unbeaten in test series, t20wc, one day wc, vb series etc can all be somehow attributed to dhoni’s luck ;). btw, which captain has won 3 world cups?

My response is as follows:

India lost a match just last year to SA. The best winning streak India has had in Tests is 2 maybe 3 matches in 2010. Their best not loosing a match (includes win or draw) is: 7 in 2008 and 2009 which is not close to Australia who have had streak of 16 wins  in tests twice – 1999 to 2001 and again in 2005 to 2008.

Also, since 2009 where they have won India has played more matches at home than abroad – something India has not been doing in the past.

Again, I dont want to degrade the test status or anything that India has achieved – simply conditions have been favorable for us in last 4 years and we have had a great team which has not changed in recent era. Something that even Ponting had at his disposal in last decade. This is not an individual effort and definitely our captain has not done  enough “just yet” in adverse of the situations. All the “handle pressure situations” we have found ourselves in has been a result of bad planning. Sure, we came out well – but if we see some of the choices during the match and hear what some of the experts have to say (at this point I am not referring to my analysis), a lot of those dont make sense to anyone. Now we can say – all experts are wrong and Dhoni knows something that no one else does – I wont speak another word on this topic ever again. However, Dhoni sure has best that India has had – no questions asked and no caveats presented.

And maybe it is not Dhoni’s luck – it is simply India’s destiny/luck and Dhoni is in middle of all of this just like every other player is. However, I see other players perform on the field and Dhoni is so patchy with his batting and wicket keeping. Even in the World Cup, everyone around me had lost hope he will do anything and then one day he hits a big one – he has been so inconsistent recently – now that is a result which we cant debate. WC is a classic example where until the elimination round, India was hitting itself in every pressure situation – England, Ireland, Dutch, SA – also 2 cases I can recall clearly were in bowling department where we went down in pressure. In elimination round we did good but it was all in batting department and in those too Dhoni went down to pressure in 2 matches against Australia and Pkistan. It was Yuvi and youngsters that got us thru. Finals – he did very well and he was brave or desperation to do something. Whatever it was is was good as the result was good.

I was referring to Ponting who took Australia to 2007, 2003 and 1999. I checked and found 1999 it was Steve Waugh. So I am back to 2 WC and 25 match winning streak (1 match led by Waugh remainder by Ponting).

India’s Test Results from last 2 years

Year Opponent Result Where
2010 Bangaladesh Won Away
2010 Bangaladesh Won Away
2010 SA Lost Home
2010 SA Won Home
2010 SL Lost Away
2010 SL Draw Away
2010 SL Won Away
2010 Aus Won Home
2010 Aus Won Home
2010 NZ Draw Home
2010 NZ Draw Home
2010 NZ Won Home
2010 SA Lost Home
2010 SA Won Home
2009 NZ Won Away
2009 NZ Draw Away
2009 NZ Draw Away
2009 SL Draw Home
2009 SL Won Home
2009 SL Won Home
2008 Aus Lost Away
2008 Aus Won Away
2008 Aus Draw Away
Advertisements

Dhoni is the best captain but not the Greatest

Dhoni keeping the wickets
Image by pulkitsinha via Flickr

Yes he is Period.The stats say is all – 2007 T20 WC victory, #1 Test status and now prestigious WC in 2011. No one else has done it in the past. He is the first one to do it. Dhoni is the best captain India has ever had; but he is not the greatest. He needs to prove himself. This is just the beginning.

But my debate does not end here – the question that everyone really wants to ask is “Why is Dhoni the best captain?” Many don’t want to get into this debate even. Some are avid fans and others don’t know how to think and rationalize. I can understand the fan because that’s what passion is all about. But either ways if a ration debate happens it will become clear that what Dhoni does is pure luck. Don’t get me wrong, I love this man and respect him for his results but not his ways. But, why he is the best captain has many things behind it than a simple fact:

  1. He has the best team ever that India has played in cricket. I cant recall a time when India had a strong bench in every department – bowling , batting, fielding, all-rounders. This is the period when we have bench in every department and people who are capable of replacing one another.
  2. Australia saw some major retirements in last few years – Gilly, Hayden and may more. Pointing is not playing well. But Australia is no longer invincible. Everyone is beating them left-right and center. England beat them in Ashes in Australia. Why is Dhoni great? If this logic applies, every captain should be a great captain because Australia is no longer in shambles.
  3. We played in SA and lost 3-2. What did he do? Nothing. because he could do nothing. We do not perform well in foreign pitches and we did fail again. In last 4 years we have played more matches at home than abroad. Last 2 T20 WCs we did pathetic – why because they were not played in India. What has Dhoni did to improve the team to play well abroad. Nothing. Where is his foresight and captaincy.

Now lets look at the decisions he made in the WC and lets understand the rationale behind it

  1. Bring Piyush Chawla in the squad when he was not performing. We had 2 spinners with same spin type who were performing better. Eventually the next series after WC Piyush has been dropped and others come in. Then during the WC campaign, Dhoni quoted – “I am playing Chawla because he needs the match more than the team”. With Ashwin going into the SA without any match practice – is that a rational decision. Not but Ashwin did great and it was his capability and Dhoni’s luck. Remeber Chawla never played another match after that. Why did he need another game?
  2. He brought in Sree in finals quoting – “Sree is lucky for us. We won T20 WC with him on the team”. I need not say more
  3. Yuvi was in the squad for his vintage. yuvi was in no form for a WC squad and there were players sitting on bench in much better form. Where was his captaincy to call out lets sit Yuvi out (if not for the WC at least a match or two). But, he went with what was safe and took a chance. Yuvi was man of the series; lucky for Dhoni. But not a rational decision.

I am happy that all is going well for India and I am happy for it. But, please stop propagating how “Great” Dhoni is. He is damn lucky and I am glad for it.Dhoni is where Tendulkar was in 1996 just starting to prove himself. He has at least 12 more years to go to show what he can do for India. Ponting did it for Australis over a long period and it is just getting started for Captain Cool. But it is a long road and I wish he does well and starts to do what makes sense; eventually luck will run out – Sachin, Yuvi will retire; Zaheer and Bhajji will loose their speed and turn. I would like to see what he does to prepare the team for that day. If we make Dhoni the captain of Bangladesh team he wont do that good, but he can be greatest given what he does around him with a sub-optimal team. Time will test him when great guns retire and it is then he has to come on top. It is then the luck will expire and leadership will come out.

World Champoins

Cricket World Cup media
Image via Wikipedia

On April 2, 2011; after waiting 28 years India was crowned world champions in the game of Cricket. I was watching the match from a friend’s apartment in Plymouth – and seeing Dhoni hit a six to win the match; the most unlikely of the places I thought I would be seeing India win the world cup and not being in India. Something that I had hoped since 1996 and see India fail time and again in 1999, 2003 and 2007. But, this time it was Dhoniunde whose captaincy we won the world cup.

The greatest gift anyone could have given to Sachin. Virat Kohli summarized very well – “Sachin has carried the burden for 21 years, it is time we carried him on our shoulders” and the victory lap saw Virat, Raina and Tusuf carrying Sachin on their shoulders. What a moment it was.

It has already been 3 days since the victory, but it still is a dream. A dream I want to live time and again.

CWC2011 – Dhoni comes back with a beauty

I love the guts on this guy – a beautiful answer to all the fans like me who have been hating him for last few games.

Enjoy this article.

 

Update: I did not realize at the time of posting the blog that Dhoni did not say all this and it was written by Anand Ramachandran

Cricket WC2011 – Dhoni’s Googly on Indian Spinners

Today finally Dhoni decided to reveal to the world what is happening in the India camp and giving rest to any speculations. Read the complete article here.

A few highlights and my take on those:

“We are still supposed to give Ashwin a chance, he deserves a place, so he will feature in one of the teams [that will play in the group stages].”

So we know now that Ashwin will get a chance and he is considered deserving. But, the question is is it being too late already? and will he be giving couple of chances just like Chawla has been given

“basically you have to see which was the player that needed this game most, rather than the team needing the player. I felt it was Piyush, who needed this game much more than Ashwin. You want your bowlers to be in a very good mental state in the second half of the tournament, where you play against the best teams and you will be participating in the knock-out stages – that was one of the main reasons why we picked Piyush ahead of Ashwin.”

Now this is a Googly I am talking about and everyone is thinking. Now this is where I see a leader is speaking up. Kudos to Dhoni, but the problem I see here is that he has already taken a huge risk by not giving Ashwin a chance to get valuable match practice. If I look at where India is in Group B, India is most certain to Qualify for Quarter Finals so Dhoni still has two games to try it with Chawla and Ashwin and he can see what works best for the team. The question is should he be experimenting in a tournament such as World Cup? What is all this experiemtn leads to team loosing the momentum or is Dhoni sure that we can get ourselves in the groove for last 3 vital games in knockout stages even with all this shuffling and experimentation?

He is the captain – Lets hope he knows what he is doing there.

 

Cricket WC2011 – What is Dhoni doing?

Mahendra Singh Dhoni of India in action during...
Image via Wikipedia

Last 2 weeks, India got thrashed by England, and we were barely able to fetch a draw which was followed by a fight against Ireland. These two matches could have been easy for India, but they were not because of some decisions that M.S.Dhoni made with his captaincy; a few to name:

  • Continue to persist with Piyush Chawla
  • His assessment of Pitch in Bengaluru against Ireland
  • His defensive field placements against England and Ireland

But, we all understand there are times when they are going to get it wrong. But a third time – now that is a statement. Another match that should been a steeping stone for India to get some momentum behind them before big matches was against Netherlands and this time again Dhoni did many things that one can’t explain.

 

He played Piyush Chawla once again

Sourav Ganguly and some other commentators suggest it is good to see a captain behind young Piyush. But, are we here to groom people or win a World Cup. Piyush Chawla once again was the most expensive bowler in the squad. He was all over the place with his bowling. This also meant was that Ashwin still was on bench. If he gets a go in the match against South Africa, it will be after a break of over a month. That is something we do not want; we wanted some good match practice for him.

 

Tactics wanting to win the match in 20 overs

Sehwag, Tendulkar and Pathan were batting in a fashion as if India team has to be somewhere in a hurry. from 69/0 to 82/3 happened because they all played shots which were not required. A match that India could have won with 9 wickets and with 25 overs to spare went to 37th over with 5 wickets down and many Indians feeling we may loose. By promoting Pathan, it meant that Gambhir who has been a touch out of form did not get batting practice which was required. He came in when there with 2 wickets down and was under lot of pressure.

 

Raina still sits on bench

We have a genuine all rounder in Suresh Raina and this was the chance to see if he is in a good nick. Yuvraj is back in form but Pathan is scoring only 20s and 30s. Even if they are like a super sonic jet, they are not what we would need if we end up needing a consolidation in middle order. This match was a chance where we could have rested someone (Sehwag or Sachin a touch decision) and get a chance to Gambhir and Raina to get a knock in the middle.

 

I am not sure what India think tank is thinking, but it seems there are strategies that will lead us to winning the final. From here on, if India has to win they have to win at least 3 of their final 5 matches. The next matches will be against solid teams – South Africa and West Indies. And once we are in Quarter Finals, we need to be at the top of our game every single match day. One bad day in the office and they are fired and there goes the dream for so many of us.

 

The only silver lining is that no other team looks in solid form; Pakistan and South Africa lost matches in a dismissal fashion. Australia has not been tested and their test in pre-WC matches they crumbled under pressure too.

 

The team that can be focused from here will be the one to take it through, but for me there is no one ahead in this race.