Thursday, September 27, 2007

To eat or not to eat crow

After having a go at Dhoni's captaincy in Dhoni
steals the whimper
, I should now eat crow. Or should I?
My initial reaction to Dhoni as captain, based on our first two matches at the T20 World Cup against Pakistan and New Zealand, a tie and a loss, pointed out we were light in specialist batting. Dhoni like Dravid had left out the promising young Rohit Sharma, who had warmed the bench for the entire England one-day series despite our poor show there. Dhoni unlike Dravid, however, rectified this in the following matches and was rewarded as Rohit won us the game against South Africa and was our second-highest scorer in the final against Pakistan.
I pointed out how Dravid-like Dhoni was to give Yuvraj the 18th over in the game against the Kiwis and that was the last over Yuvraj bowled in the competition.
I felt Dhoni was wrong to promote himself in the batting order ahead of the in-form Yuvraj, and wow, from the very next match Dhoni never went at number four, not even when Yuvraj missed the match against South Africa.
I slammed Dhoni for continuing with the expensive Agarkar and well, we never saw him again, did we? Joginder was equally expensive, but at least you could play to a plan, knowing what he would dish out. My own preference would've been Sehwag's offspin, which did go for 20 runs in the only over he bowled, but he was hobbling on a bad leg by then.
I criticised Dhoni for including Karthick in the first two games, despite his poor run in the one-dayers in England, and I was happy to see Dhoni not only left out Karthick, but was not even tempted to bring him back in place of the injured Sehwag in the final, preferring to go with the untried Yusuf Pathan, who might have scored only 15 but got the innings off to a flyer, and the one over he bowled for just 5 runs was impressive, especially the last ball which he held back when the batsman made a charge. I was disappointed Yusuf did not get one or two more overs, which might've made the tension of using Joginder for the last over unnecessary.
Another point I made in that critique was that it was an unnecessary risk to finish off Irfan Pathan in the middle and keep Harbhajan for the end because he was likely to go for a flurry of sixes. That finally did happen when Misbah-ul_Haq lifted Bhajji for three sixes in the 17th over. Luckily, Misbah-ul-Haq more than compensated for that in the last over by going for an unnecessary scoop to fine leg, when he could've easily got the six runs needed off four balls with straight hits to the slow medium pace of the predictable Joginder Sharma.
Dhoni did prove my gut feel about his captaincy wrong, nevertheless, because if he's going to be so quick to learn from mistakes, and so fearless in acting upon them, then he's going to be a much better captain than Dravid or Tendulkar, and perhaps even Ganguly. To let Yusuf Pathan make his international debut in the cup final, that too as an opener, was fearless, and the decision to keep the pressure going with the main bowlers in both the semi and final even if it meant using Joginder in the last over showed his cricket acumen.
I don't know if Yuvraj would've made an equally good or even a better captain. Now it does not matter. I'm looking forward to seeing Indian cricket develop and flourish under Dhoni and Yuvraj working together, after two years of uninspiring leadership from Dravid and Chappell, and one year of nonsense between Ganguly and Chappell before that.


Soulberry said...

You made all those points Sumit and I said you saw it all before all of us!

The thing is successful men do things which are timely...that's the only logic they employ.

Why I traced the timeline through at TCWJ is to show how Dhoni eveloved through the eyes of one who has "read" him the closest.

And by the way, after Dhoni slipped one across Ravi Shastri after the Oz match, we know he at least reads Cricinfo. Maybe he reads a few blogs as well and thought over your suggestions!

Some of the cricket blogs are far better in perspective than Cricinfo I think.

John said...

My college mess used to serve crow, I think.

Anyway, do you think Test captaincy should be given to Dhoni?

Sumit Chakraberty said...

john, yes if the alternative is sachin.