Monday, October 8, 2007

Captain courageous

So, suddenly Australia don't look all that unbeatable, do they? In fact, if India had done the obvious thing in Kochi, which was to bat first after winning the toss, they would've been 2-1 up in the series now. This Aussie team, without McGrath and Warne, and with Ponting and Gilchrist past their best, is not as strong as it used to be.
The pitch helped too. The usual, flat tracks India rolls out for one-day matches suit the Aussies more, because they have taller and stronger bowlers. When there's a little bit in it for the bowlers, as the ones in South Africa had during the T20 World Cup, and this one in Chandigarh had for pace bowlers in the morning and spinners later, India's bowlers get into the game.
Dhoni is coming along nicely as a captain, even if he did make the wrong choice after winning the toss in Kochi, and I'm still not convinced about playing five specialist bowlers instead of using Yuvraj, Sachin and Sourav to chip in with 10 overs between them, enabling Rohit Sharma to come in for a bowler. In today's game, India lost only two wickets in 40 overs, and it still required a fantastic partnership of 47 runs in 4 overs between Dhoni and Uthappa at the end to push India to a competitive score. One more wicket would've exposed India's weakness. Only one Indian batsman, Dravid, failed in this game and that's rare in limited overs cricket. Let's see what happens in the next three games. Dhoni obviously feels using Yuvraj and Sachin lets the pressure off in the middle overs, so he wants two specialist spinners. At the same time, he wants three pace bowlers to handle most of the powerplay and slog overs. For that, he's willing to sacrifice a specialist batsman.
It's a tough call, and like I said my view is that by the law of averages you will lose more games than you win with this strategy. But I like Dhoni's guts, anyway. He switched back to the five-bowler format because he did not like his lack of options on the field in the previous game in Hyderabad. He decided he needed an experienced spinner who would take the ball away from the Aussie right-handers, and pulled Murali Karthick out of the commentary box for the job. As it turned out though, Karthick got the left-hander Hayden out - but that with an economy rate of 4.8 was a match-winning effort.
As for Sachin Tendulkar's run rate, let's leave that for the end of the series.

7 comments:

Sam said...

Why wait till the end of the series to say what is obvious to the entire world but only Ian Chappell has had the balls to say? Its riduculous that Tendulkar is drawing praise for his pathetic batting display today - I'd rather watch Kallis than endure the sight Tendulkar "applying himself" to scavenge for runs. His persistence in One day cricket is a sorry example of selfishness overruling all other faculties, including common sense. Would we be as indulgent if Gautam Gambhir instead of Tendulkar had scored 79 runs in 20 overs - after having cost us the previous match by scoring 43 in 12 overs? Whats even more sad is that not one TV commentator or a mainstream cricket writer will raise these points because they are scared out of their nuts of displeasing the cricketing establishement, on whose backing this man has been extending his career way beyond its tensile limits.

John said...

bowling Karthik in the 47th over. Now that was gutsy.

Sumit Chakraberty said...

sam, the irony is that the others who have to make up for sachin's slow rate of scoring have more to lose in terms of their careers - like rohit or uthappa or yuvraj having to take more risks than they need have, or even sourav who has had to struggle to made a comeback into the team; he was going much better than sachin in the same conditions, but perished trying to at least take advantage of the final set of powerplay overs...
john, ya, but i wonder if that was necessary. it probably worked because symonds got out the previous over. using bhajji at the end almost cost india the t20 world cup, remember? rp and zaheer and even sreesanth are becoming more reliable at the death, and that's good for india.

Soulberry said...

Sumit, for a moment I read that as "I don't like Dhoni's guts..."
(laugh)

This bloke knows how to put the best foot forward 8 out of 10 times.

By the way, Munaf was all fire in the Irani. So was Ishant. India could end up with a decent pace sextet at this rate! That's if Munaf and Ishant maintain their progress.

straight point said...

SC

saying that we would have been 2-1 only on the base of toss!! is too simplistic...suggests that other team has to turn up only for the toss and is not expected from a guy like you...IMHO

having said that the game showed that when put under pressure even Aussies can crumble coz i thought that even with syomonds gone they had match within their grasp...it shows that they are beatable and not as invincible as they appear...

our batsmen hunted in pairs and when opening bowlers were going for plenty spinners raised their hands and game which allowed India to be in the game as late as possible...but for mindless opening spell the match could have been more one sided than it appeared.

regarding SRT i will be watching his next 2-3 innings with much anticipation to see how he takes from here on...

i would here give him benefit of doubt...may be its a team management decision for him to hold one end as dravid is not doing his bit...

next few game will provide us more answers...i guess...

Sumit Chakraberty said...

sp: the odds on winning a match on the underprepared pitch at kochi were pretty high even for india against the world's best team. that's all i meant. it gets boring to qualify every statement with ifs and buts. thanks though for the reminder to maintain rigour.

Stuart said...

I would certainly agree that Dhoni is looking like a good leader for India. He seems to be bridging the divide between the younger players and the "big 3", and his on-field performances have been good as well.

Here hoping the remainder of the series continues in this vein.