Category Archives: Dhoni

Most memorable tournament for Dhoni as a captain

As the curtain draws on Dhoni’s captaincy, if and when Mahendra Singh Dhoni decides to writes his memoir, he is likely to choose Champions Trophy 2013 as his most memorable tournament as captain.

Just before Champions Trophy 2013, Spot fixing saga in IPL came to light and Indian team’s reputation took a big blow. Dhoni’s honesty was itself questioned. Team’s morale was down and no one believed that India could go on and win Champions Trophy 2013 in English Conditions which didn’t suit them.

In such turmoil, Dhoni took a young team devoid of stars like Yuvraj, Zaheer, Gambhir, Harbhajan etc to England and took one after another unconventional decisions. Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan started to open the innings and became pillars of India’s success in CT2013 and afterwards. His gamble on Ravindra Jadeja finally paid off and he ended as most successful bowler of CT 2013 in conditions that was not much suited for spin bowling and also contributed valuable runs with bat.

2 years back at same place, Naseer Hussain commented about Indian fielders as donkeys on the pitch and in CT 2013, young and agile fielders of Indian team shut everyone’s mouth with exceptional fielding standards. It also displayed that Dhoni was right is giving importance to fitness and fielding in team’s selection.

India was cruising in all three departments in CT2013 but all that seemed not enough as India scored just 129 runs in the rain curtailed final. Before England team started their chase in final, Dhoni gave his famous huddle speech,

He said “God (referring to rain) is not coming to save us. If you want to win this trophy we will have to fight it out. We are the number one-ranked side so let us show it that they will have to fight for these 130-odd runs. So let us not look for any outside help.”

It looked all but certain till 17th over that England will win CT2013, when Dhoni, to the surprise of everyone, threw the ball to Ishant Sharma who changed the match with two wickets in consecutive balls.

When Tredwell missed the last ball and made it certain that India won the CT2013, Dhoni’s mask of calmness slipped and he jumped with unbridled joy. It showed how much he valued the victory of CT2013. He not only won CT2013 but also silenced his critics. He displayed how to keep pressure off the team in such turmoil, he displayed how a team full of young players who are hungry for success and have passion for the game are more likely to get success than team full of stars but devoid of passion for the game and hunger for the success.

In that tournament, Dhoni and his team ticked every box, that has to be his favourite tournament as Captain.

MS Dhoni’s lasting legacy as captain

Mahendra Singh Dhoni is arguably India’s best captain but there is no denying the fact that he is India’s most successful captain. For the record, no other captain in the world won all three ICC Trophy i.e T20 World Cup, ODI World Cup, and Champions Trophy except MS Dhoni. He has done many firsts for India as captain and we all have those records on tip of our tongues but what is the change that Dhoni brought in the Indian team that he captained for almost a decade? What is his legacy?

1.Cultivating Winning mentality in the shorter format of the game.

Real change in the attitude of the Indian team started under Sourav Ganguly. He made the Indian team a bunch of fighters. He taught India how to reach finals but sadly, on most of the occasions India faltered on big stages and lost big finals. Under Sourav Ganguly, India reached 14 ODI finals but could win only one final and three finals ended with no result. Under Dhoni, things changed drastically and India took a giant leap. India learned how to win big finals and the winning habit was cultivated in players. Earlier, India started as underdogs in finals, under Dhoni India became favourites in the finals and the rich haul of trophy under Dhoni is the testimony to the fact. Under Dhoni, India won eight finals and lost only five.

2.Backing Young players and leaving the core behind for the next captain.

Dhoni’s first ODI trophy as captain came in Australia in 2008 CB series. Beating Australia, a dominant team for two decades, in their own backyard, in first two of the three finals when Ricky Ponting infamously claimed that they would finish off India in first two finals, was one of the sweetest victories that India grabbed. But, the story before that series was not at all rosy. India dropped two big names i.e Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid from ODI squad and Dhoni famously said that sometimes it is very important to send the message across. Since then he always backed youngsters with an eye on the future.

Sourav Ganguly is always credited for building team India by backing players like Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Zaheer Khan etc but Dhoni is never given due credit in this regard. Not long ago, people mocked Dhoni for backing players like R Ashwin, R Jadeja, Murali Vijay, Rohit Sharma who have now become the core of Virat Kohli’s invincible test team. Dhoni reaped the benefit of the team created by Sourav Ganguly. Similarly, before leaving he has built the core of the team to make India champion team under Virat Kohli.

3.Making Fitness and fielding key criteria for team selection.

While watching cricket in the late 90s and the early 2000s, Indian cricket fans always rued about Indian fielding and fitness standards compared to what Aussies or Proteas had. Dhoni came and tinkered with Indian thought process of not giving importance to the fielding and especially of not giving importance to the fitness. He always stressed on the importance of the fitness. He created a furor in 2012 Australian series when he categorically mentioned that only two out of Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, and Sachin Tendulkar could be included in playing XI because of their inconsistency in the fielding. Merit and demerits of that decision can be debated but that sent a clear message to players eyeing a place in the team that fitness and fielding have become key criteria in the team’s selection. Dhoni himself led by example. He, all through his career, remained one of the fittest and fastest player on the pitch. The generation of players that came later are super fit and are among best fielders of the world with the new in-charge Virat Kohli leading in both department,

4.Unhurried approach to the game and assuredness of Champions

It is true to some extent that a captain is as good as his team but a captain certainly changes the way his team plays. Ricky Ponting and his team played firebrand cricket. Sourav Ganguly had aggression and that reflected in the attitude of his team. Anil Kumble had determination in his game and that reflected in his team. Who can forget that famous 2008 Perth test,

In the era of the aggressive brand of cricket, Dhoni brought an unhurried approach to the game. Before, Dhoni’s ascendency as captain, Indian team were jittery in big chases and nervous on big occasions. There were many occasion when India collapsed after being in good position. The panic button was pressed more often than needed.  Dhoni dismantled the panic button of the team and gave a loud call for calmness. The situation gradually changed in years to come under his captaincy. From being a bad chaser, India became chase masters. In last two years of his captaincy, it was more because of Virat Kohli but Dhoni was not far behind when we check the record of last decade.  In his tenure as captain, In 43 innings while chasing, Dhoni scored 1558 runs, for winning cause, at a staggering average of 91.64. The attitude of Dhoni rubbed off on players as well and Indian team under him possessed assuredness of Champions unlike the nervousness of underdogs earlier seen.

5.Stomach to take big unconventional decision

Last over to Joginder Sharma in 2007 T20 World Cup final, promoting himself ahead of in-form Yuvraj Singh in 2011 World Cup Final or giving over to most expensive bowler Ishant Sharma in the Champions trophy final when England was cruising and needed only 28 runs in three overs or the infamous decision of denying strike to Ambati Rayudu. He took unconventional decisions, backed it, and most often ended on the right side of it, bringing many laurels to India. Call him lucky, call him “The great gambler” or call him a genius, give him whatever name you like but you cannot deny that Dhoni had stomach for taking big unconventional decisions when stakes were high.    

It is really the end of an era that gave many glorious days to the Indian cricket. When Dhoni was once asked question on managing old and young players. He answered, “From Kishore Kumar, we have gone to Sean Paul”. It goes for the captaincy too, we are moving from an ear of Kishore Kumar to Sean Paul.

Over to you Virat Kohli.

This article is also published here at sportskeeda.

 

India’s tour of Zimbabwe : Dhoni’s pride at stake

Team India doesn’t have an off season. They play cricket throughout the year and on most occasions stakes are high, in such scenario, Dhoni on most occasions, at toss, utters three magical word: “Team is unchanged”. Dhoni can’t be blamed for not testing bench strength as high stakes throughout the year don’t provide him luxury of testing bench strength.

Tours like that of Zimbabwe give Team India chance to test bench strength. Most of the regular players are given rest and others’ are given chance to prove their mettle. This tour is no different. However an exception has been made this time, Dhoni is travelling to Zimbabwe for the first time since 2005.

Zimbabwe might be low ranked team but when it come to playing determined and passionate cricket, they are no less than any top team. India’s inexperienced team may find the tour not as easy as they expected.

For young players, it is going to be tough tour. Good performances in this tour may not earn them a regular spot in Team India but a bad series against Zimbabwe might shut the door of Team India for them as Indian players are expected to do better against teams like Zimbabwe whereas a bad performance against Zimbabwe is seen as the fact that player is not cut out for international cricket.

Dhoni, earlier, in his many press conferences has said that India, now a days, dont produce readymade cricketers who come and fit in international cricket, especially the bowlers. This tour is full of yougsters who have made their name in donestic cricket and IPL. It is the time for these young players to prove their captain wrong and show to the captain and the world that they have capability and skill to take world by storm.

Biggest stake in this tour is of Dhoni. People have started writing his cricketing obituary. Large section of media, cricket experts and ex-players are gunning for Dhoni’s head. It’s not that Dhoni’s captaincy skill has drastically deteriorated. He is still the same but his batting has lost some of the sheen. He is still fit, always puts price on his wicket and is among best wicketkeepers that world has seen. So question is why then everyone is gunning for his head. Answer to this question is simple , the soon to be captain, Virat Kohli, is in form of his life for last two years. He is a run machine, a winner and arguably best batsmen of this generation. His form with bat has put him at numero uno position and on the other hand Dhoni’s not so good season with bat has burdened and shackled him. Cries of removing Dhoni as captain has more to do with his not so good performance with bat than with his captaincy skill.

If Dhoni fails to perform with bat in this tour than his removal from captaincy is all but certain. Dhoni has to realise that his best place to bat in ODIs is at number 4. He has to forgo his role as finisher and has to become a run accumulator, which he is definitely capable of. It will work in India’s favour as India will get to try different players as finisher and by the time Dhoni decides to hang his boot, a replacement finisher would be ready. India will also get a better no.4 player in Dhoni which will give team India the balance that is lacking for past few years. Dhoni’s pride is at stake in this tour because a man who has won so many matches for India both as captain and as batsman is being forced out of team and to salvage his pride Dhoni has to move at no. 4 if he fails to do so this might be last series that we see Dhoni as captain of team India.

In Reply To Tom Alter

dh
With Test No 1 Trophy

Dear Tom Alter

I know that you are sulking with reasons best known to you. But let me clear some cobwebs of your brain.

You said that two players left series overseas and were branded as traitors but you didn’t tell that circumstances were different then. Dhoni didn’t leave the series, he retired when series was done and dusted with Australia taking invincible lead. Earlier instances of players leaving were may be of proving a point to others/selectors/captains whereas Dhoni did it to prolong his ODI career that he loves the most.

Your second point is “Mahendra Singh Dhoni chooses to exit before he is removed – and with arrogance, such blind faith in his image.” What you call as arrogance is matter of respectfully retiring which is not done by any Indian greats in last 25 years. But I guess you have blind faith in earlier pattern of dragging career till the time fans start to abuse and players are forced to retire. It is always said that a player should retire when people ask – why and not when. You seem to be a fan of when.

Your third point is about being bosses’ favourite and money. For your information he is people’s favourite first and has made his name long before his alleged proximity with Srinivasan. Let me ask you when Sachin retired last year did he break any contract? When Kumble retired middle of the series did he break any contract? I didn’t see any scathing comments from you then. Can I ask, why you were silent then? A player has his prerogative to decide when to retire. Of all things he has done, least he would bother to go and ask some Tom Alter to decide about his retirement timing. So please don’t suggest him when to retire and what to do.

And then you insinuate that one of the reasons Dhoni was at helm for long was because he is loved by corporate. FYI Kohli is equally loved by corporate. So would you say that he has been named Captain because of it? Answer for me is a big NO. They both got captaincy because of their leadership quality and great performances. You are free to believe otherwise.

Let me ask you when was the last time you watched cricket. You say that Dhoni had not played any competitive cricket for two months before the second Test, and we take him back as both captain and player. So by your logic Captain should be changed after every off-season of two months. I would really like to know from you that when did that happen in cricketing history. Answer would be never or may be once or twice in history. So why should that apply to Dhoni? Answer would be best known to you.

Equally laughable is your comment that now country has became all about image building and history doesn’t matter. Let me tell you some history that you chose to forgot. Dhoni won two World Cups, One Champions Trophy and made India No 1 side in Tests. Yes I know you would like to remind people of overseas loss. But let me enlighten you why India didn’t win matches overseas and why it may lose last one at Sydney too. Its because with such pathetic bowling line up even combined captaincy brain of Imran, Steve Waugh, and Ganguly would find it hard to win matches. If Dhoni was not good captain, he would not have won in India too.

It’s not Dhoni who broke the sacred bond but it’s you and other media persons who are trying to break bond between Indian cricket and its lovers by painting a very grim scenario just before the World Cup. Such a damming article without even thinking of how it affects players’ morale tell us how much you love Indian Cricket. In my opinion it is not Dhoni but you who should be banned from further writing on cricket.

Get well soon Tom, I still watch first interview of Sachin that you took and still love every moment of it.

With Love

From an Indian Cricket & Dhoni Fan

This article has also been published at sportskeeda here

England Tour : Ignominious 2011 and a hopeful 2014

Day2

 

 

“ India players are donkeys on the field “ said Nasir Hussain, “Laxman used Vaseline to save himself from DRS” said Vaughan and then there was a 4-0 whitewash of Team India by English team. Nothing seems to be more acerbic than this tour of England in 2011. This test series not only ended India’s status as number one Test team but also the euphoria of World Cup 2011 win. It brought back memories of pre Sachin, Dravid, Ganguly era when India were a pathetic overseas traveler.

Scathing comments of British commentators are etched in memory of every Indian cricket fan and they are crying out for revenge since 2011. Even home series against England inflicted pain on Indian fans as Team India again lost to England by 1-2. Dhoni eased the pain of fans by winning ICC Champions Trophy in England by beating England in finals with icing on the cake being Nasir Hussian forced to chew his comment of Indians as donkeys in the field.

A Test series win in England is still elusive for Dhoni and he would also like to improve his record as captain and player in overseas test matches. This England series is golden opportunity for Dhoni & Co. to set their record straight. Except Dhoni, Gambhir and Ishant Sharma every other team member will be playing for the first time in England in whites.

They might be lacking experience but they have youthful exuberance, passion to prove themselves and no past baggage of losses will keep them in high spirits. When they last played in England in ICC Champions Trophy, Shikhar Dhawan was exceptional with bat and bowlers also proved themselves so they must be gunning for England this time around.

In overseas series against South Africa and NewZealand, Batsmen did well and put up a strong performance but India lacked in bowling department. India didn’t have enough firepower in bowling to take 20 wickets that took away India’s chances of winning test matches on at least 2 occasions.

This time also Indian bowling attack might not be world class but bowlers like Bhuvneshwar Kumar and Mohd Shami are natural swing bowlers and are skilled enough to exploit conditions in England. Addition of Pankaj Singh and Binny raised few eyebrows but good swing bowling by Binny in Bagladesh does offer some hope.

India’s success would depend on their openers and spinners. Indian openers need to see out new ball and play at least 25-30 overs to give its middle order chance to score runs and exploit weakness of England’s bowling in middle overs. Last time when India visited England, Indian openers failed miserably and India could not play even 100 over in an inning.

Pep talks from Rahul Dravid is welcome decision by BCCI. It would not only calm down nervousness in Indian batting camp but also give them much-needed confidence to be successful in England.

Another reason for overseas failures of India, especially in last England tour was poor performance by spinners. Indian spinners need to take wicket in middle over and put England batsmen on back foot. They need to be an attacking option for Dhoni, and not to be used just to stop flow of runs. English batsmen have been vulnerable against spinners and Indian spinners need to pitch in right areas and bowl at right speed to exploit this weakness of English batsmen.

Recent controversy after Ashes has put England on tight spot. Most of their players are new to test cricket and recent test series loss against Sri Lanka shows their vulnerability against quality side. This is high time forDhoni & Co. to up the ante and be aggressive to beat England in their den.

Indian fans are expecting revenge in form of series win. Dhoni may not be great admirer of term revenge in sports but he needs to deliver this win for sake of our fans who are in desperate need of a overseas series win to recharge themselves. So Dhoni, please give it back to English what they gave us in 2011, we should not be under debt for long.