Aside

The 16th match of ICC T20 World Cup was a forgettable one. Aussies thrash India chasing 140 odd runs with 9 wickets and 5 overs to spare. An ultimate thrashing even a neutral viewer would like to forget. This match underlines the recent trend of whitewashes that India succumb to. Not only did they surrender to a whitewash in the England and Australian tours, India has also the habit of losing badly like the second one dayer against the hosts Sri Lanka. Why is it this happening to India, who were coveted with the highest trophy in World Cricket. Why can’t the Indians perform? The answer may lie in the captain’s attitude towards cricket.

Dhoni is without doubt the coolest cricketer ever to captain a national team. Statistically he’s the best Indian captain ever. He’s been praised for being as cool as a cucumber during crunch situations. Individually he has had tremendous success in the ODIs, ranked number uno in the batsmen list, one of the best finishers of the game. He’s had quite a bit of success in the test as well as one-day formats (Most of them at home, one might argue). However his nature of being dead cool has also spelled doom for the side. He is a street smart cricketer, something inherited from where he lives. His “Chalta hai” attitude, where he doesn’t take most things seriously, has affected how the team looks at the matches. Yes, one needs to enjoy the game to play well. But when you take things more lightly than required, things fall apart.

Take for instance his taking the game to the last over. Whenever India is chasing down a sizeable total, Dhoni more often than not takes the game to the last over. Initially he was being praised for this behaviour, some stating that Dhoni always has the game in control. I would say he was lucky he could win most matches despite this suicidal action. He has mellowed down his batting, from his blistering knocks of 140s and 180s, to the 50s he regularly gets taking India home in the last over. However he has started to pay the price for this unnecessary action, the best example being the only T20 match against Kiwis at Chennai. Even when the writing is on the wall, Dhoni continues to do this. “Chalta hai bhai”, I bet he would say.

Then there is his “realistic” captaincy. People regarded him as the one cricketer who can read the game situation the best. Yes, he did so, but that was in his in early days. Now though he has become adamant on that. You can see this “realistic” style of captaincy in his field placing. He can get defensive very quickly when a batsmen goes berserk. He’s known to side with players that only he knows why anybody would put them in the team in the first place (No offense Ravindran Jadeja, but there are better players than you). Due to this, Dhoni hasn’t been able to inspire the team when they needed him the most. The whitewash India faced at the hands of the English and the Aussies could have been avoided had India played with a positive frame of mind, attacked more. But I guess a part of the blame could go to BCCI for not having groomed the bowlers well for these tours.

Dhoni needs to rethink his strategy. He should be more proactive. He has all the ingredients to be one of the greatest captains in cricket. I admire his selfless attitude, letting the boys enjoy the adulation of winning some tournament. Many senior players have praised the atmosphere in the dressing room, terming as the best they have been in, after Dhoni became the captain. And his batting, though unorthodox, is very effective at dealing with any bowling attack in the world. Dhoni should put more faith in the young bowlers, give them an attacking field and make them bowl the lengths that can trouble the batsmen. But with his intentions to retire soon, we may never see him change this attitude.

The next world cup is a couple of years away. A lot of tours beckon the Indians which will test their mettle. Sure, our bowling attack is the weakest among the top five teams. Our batting is in muddy waters after the departure of Dravid and Laxman and age fast catching up with Sachin. But if one thing can change, it the cricketer at the helm of the the Indian team. India is better served if Dhoni can change his attitude and approach every game with a bit more aggression, bit more optimism. The future looks bright, with Virat Kohli almost a certainty to take over after Dhoni. Kohli being a far more aggressive player than Dhoni, reminds very much of the Ponting at his prime, both in his batting style and in spirit. The India would do good if the “Ponting of India” can rise at the right time.

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My thoughts on Cricket in India – Part 1

I am a cricket lover. Cricket is my passion. It’s in my blood. But hell, I cannot be beat my friend Nishant. He thinks, talks (literally), eats and sleeps cricket (guess it’s not the right phrase, though I hope you get what I mean). He’s more into cricket than I can ever be. For instance during my training in Infosys, another of my friend Sai Ram, rued badly that he missed the cut to 100% by 1%. He was mad at himself, cursing all he could on his head. Nishant tried to cool him, but Sai Ram retorted “You never know how I feel not getting the 100%”. To which Nishant replied “I know exactly how you feel, it’s just like how Azharuddin had felt when he could play only 99 Tests. And he’s from Hyderabad, just like you”.

But that doesn’t stop from being critical on the current Indian team. You might ask “What’s wrong with them? They are the best team India has produced so far, save the English series, they were on top most of the times!”. I have to agree that this is by far the best Indian team, the one team that can dominate on every turf around the globe. Continue reading

India and Mohali

After another bountiful of laughs watching Russell Peters deliver his lines, I decided to nap off the afternoon. And then my mind drifted to the match next day that is to be held at the Chinnaswamy Stadium, Bengaluru. This drift of thoughts took me to the stunning victory of India the previous match, which took the Aussies breath away. Evidently there must have been a lot of thoughts out in the blog space here, but I just couldn’t resist jotting my points of view here. And the following paragraphs, I would discuss some genteel moments of the match. Sure it’s not going to be another view point, just jotting down of thoughts that flow through my mind.

This test match was played on Mohali which has grown to be the strongest bastion of Indian cricket. Since the Windies trumped the Indians in 1994, no one was able to break the superiority Indians had on this ground. The last time Aussies were here in 2008, they were handed one of the biggest defeats in their cricketing history, a defeat by more than 300 runs! 10 years ago people would hardly fathom the idea that Indians could inflict such defeat on the baggy greens! This time though, it’s not going to be the usual kind of pitch the Indians would have preferred. Heavy rains have dampened the pitch so much that even the curator was nervous that the pitch could sustain the 5 days of intense battle between the 2 teams. It reminded me of that forgettable test match at Mumbai between these two not so long ago.

Eventually though the pitch played a crucial role in culturing one of the best test matches in recent history! As one of the commentators put it aptly, it was a tug-of-war kind of game, with neither team holding the advantage outright. Everybody played a part in it to spoon in the spice. However, few players did matter the most in this test match, that would proceed now…… Continue reading

Pakistan and the IPL

IPL season 3 has begun. Bigger than ever, IPL has proven to be an yearly extraveganza people would hate to miss. And with such a huge event, controversies are bound to sprout. The latest in line is the most peculiar of all. The auction process for the players began and at the end of it none of the players from Pakistan were taken. Everyone except the IPL franchisees were flabbergasted. The Pakistanis were furious. How the Pakistani players, who were crowned the T20 champions, were not at all considered by the IPL teams? They sense treachery behind all this. But truth is there are logical reasons. Here’s why. Continue reading

What happened Team India?

India down The last ball of the match, India vs England. 8 runs were required of it, a glimmer of hope that an extra can be gained, a no-ball from the bowler, wide, anything. But then none of that happened, and Dhoni smashed it for a 4. Then celebrations erupted, from the home side (who though are knocked out of the world cup anyway), and their opposition in despair. Continue reading

The Bash Bash Cricket….!

So back we are, to the world cup of the newest and arguably the future of cricket, the T20 world cup. This format has all the ingredients you need for a perfect entertainment, you got action, drama, suspense, thrillers, climax, etc. The popularity of this format has ballooned since the first edition of the T20 World Cup held in South Africa. And what helped was the team with the maximum number of followers in the world, going to win the tournament, India that is. Yes, because of the win, we now have the richest cricket tournament ever, and with this, it can be even spread to other countries where cricket it still at it’s infancy, like the US.

Continue reading