Posts Tagged ‘M.S. Dhoni’


Goutham Chakravarthi

No matter how much Cook and his boys said in each press conference that they were going to bounce back,  fans and media were certain of the white wash. That four of the five games were decided by whopping margins, it only deepens the scars of English cricketers who have won only one game of sixteen in their last three bilateral series in India.

England is known to prepare better than most for any series and it was no different when they arrived in Hyderabad ten days before the first game. Unfortunately, their planning and strategy leaves a lot to be desired.

Bell and Pietersen should both play in the XI

It is quite apparent that they have theories in place and try to pick players to fit them into those theories. The problem is, it doesn’t always work unless the player is brilliant enough fit himself to any theory. And in England’s case, there are very few of them who are that versatile.

It is silly that they had to choose between Pietersen and Bell for one batting slot. In an ideal world, you pick the best team you have – both Pietersen and Bell would be the first two to be penciled in in that case. And once the best batting team is picked, based on the strengths, the strategy is to be formed.

India showed them how it is done even when they were in England irrespective of the one-day results. With all their power players out injured – Sehwag, Tendulkar, Yuvraj – they played to the limitations of their side and planned to not lose wickets up front and let Dhoni and Raina take to the bowling at the end. That was their best chance with the team they had and they took the common sense approach.

One look at this England team and you know for certain that they have no such concrete plan. Expecting Kieswetter to do a Jayasuriya just because the pitches allow free stroke making against the new ball is silly. Kieswetter’s limitations have exposed the flawed roleplay identified for the players. You cannot score 80 runs in the first 10 overs just because that is how it is done in the sub-continent. You need to have the players to do it.

More importantly, the match winners in the team have to be looked after. And in this team, that match winner had to be Kevin Pietersen. The only time England won anything of substance in the limited overs format – T20 world cup in the Caribbean– Pietersen was the Man of the Tournament. That he was made to think his place in team was under threat to the likes of Jonny Bairstow and Jos Buttler wouldn’t have sat comfortably on him.

Not that Graeme Swann chose to release his autobiography just before the start of the series help. There was nothing sinister in his revelation that he didn’t think Pietersen was captaincy material. The timing would have hurt. Also Swann’s revelation that the four day boot camp in Germany prior to the Ashes were among the worst of his life didn’t go too well with Flower. Swann dropped catches and looked very innocuous with his off-spin throughout. It didn’t help at all in their team bonding.

On the other hand, M.S. Dhoni ensures that he gives Yuvraj Singh all the confidence in the world when he is playing. He constantly tells the press that Yuvraj is India’s key to success in limited overs cricket and he has reaped the rewards as the temperamental southpaw was instrumental in India winning the T20 world cup in 2007 and the 50 overs world cup early this year. Both Yuvraj and Pietersen have massive egos and the trick to ensure that they have the full confidence of the captain and the management. They need to be told that they are critical for their team’s success.

Also the fascination towards these power hitters in Alex Hales, Jos Buttler, Jonny Bairstow is worrying. That they are picked and placed to take advantage of the powerplays is a noble thought provided they are good enough to do it. Kieswetter has shown that be can perhaps bat in top gear or get stuck with nothing in between, while Bairstow seems to have not much idea playing spin.

It would be common sense that an ideal XI will comprise of their three best players –Bell, Pietersen and Morgan. Also, their batting positions should ensure that they get maximum opportunities to play 50 overs. How they fit the others around these three will be a good starting point, and worthy of a good planning exercise.

Also, Cook’s captaincy has been far from impressive. Pietersen looked clueless when England were thrashed 5-0 in India last time, and Cook looked not far from it. The only time India struggled against this England attack was when they got the ball to reverse. It meant they should have looked to bowl during the day and not worry about the heat. Only in Hyderabad and Kolkata did they bowl first and the heat seemed to get to them.

Mental toughness of a team is also in taking these factors into consideration, and England would have done well to let go of playing under cooler night conditions. The night dew also ensured that India chased down England’s targets with great ease as there was no reverse either. Only Finn came through with a remarkable show of strength and endurance.

It’s all right when the media points to the fact that the next world cup in 2015 will be played in Australia and New Zealand, but not to forget is the fact the T20 world cup is in Sri Lanka next year. On current evidence, it is difficult to imagine England starting favourites to defend their crown.


Goutham Chakravarthi

It is hard to judge the quality of the English one-day batting given the appalling standard of Indian bowling. None of their front line bowlers had a clue in a shortened game, flat tract, with the night chilly winds and near freezing temperature. There was no swing on offer for Praveen Kumar and Kieswetter and Cook took the Indian bowling apart – walking inside the line and tucking it over fine leg, or giving themselves room to smash it over the off-side. Given what was on offer, England romped home chasing a stiff target with plenty to spare. They were close to 60 without loss after 5 overs and close to 100 after 9 overs. The game was over!

India’s reluctance from moving from their preferred combination of 7 batsmen and 4 bowlers is hurting them more with none of the part-time bowlers good enough to bowl more than a couple of overs unless the conditions favour them. India’s best hope with this combination is to chase.

Bell feasts on Raina's part time offies

Dhoni’s reliance on the skill of Ashwin is coming to a nought in these conditions with the wickets greasy and not providing enough bite for the Chennai spinner with the new ball. Kieswetter went after him straight away and tonked him for 16 in his first over and with it Dhoni seemed short of bowlers and ideas as all bowlers and combinations he tried didn’t work. Perhaps, it is time he played Jadeja in the side at seven for it gives him some tight overs from the left-armer in the  middle overs and he is a fair tonker of the cricket ball down the order.

The sameness of the Indian bowling in their seam department in terms of pace (or the lack of it) is making it easy for batsmen to line them up on good wickets. There is little chance this bowling side will bowl decent batting sides out on good wickets. It may not hurt them to give the leg-spinner and Varun Aaron a go in the remaining matches as they tend to be wicket taking options.

There is no such problem in the batting. Parthiv Patel looked poised for another big score as he went after the English bowlers who can’t seem to shed their love for short-pitched bowling. Parthiv cut and pulled with great relish. For second time in successive games, Anderson got him on the drive. Perhaps there is a lesson in it for Bresnan and Broad.

Ajinkya Rahane is doing his reputation no harm. There are enough talks going on back home that he should be the reserve Test opener going forward with Cheteshwar Pujara being the first choice no.6 batsman. He has looked at ease playing swing, pace and spin and again showed why he is rated so highly in the Indian domestic scene. He has made the most of his opportunity at the top of the order. In this form, it will be difficult to leave him out even in a full strength Indian side. It has been quite an impressive start.

Suresh Raina has to be among the most impactful limited overs players. To do what he does and with such consistency at the end of the batting innings takes for great confidence and skill. His cover drive for six off Bresnan is testament to his skills of ball striking and improvising abilities. There is little doubting his reputation or his future in this format.

It is a case of issues for both teams. England’s victories will for the moment hide their light batting with their middle order not being tested as India continues to find it difficult to get their batsmen out. England’s bowling lacked planning and imagination it showed in the Tests.

Truth is to say that Indian batsmen would fancy their own attack and England’s bowling attack would definitely test their own top order. Two teams working out a combination for the moment and the future might still churn out a tight series. Only if India pick enough bowlers to pose a challenge.