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Sight Screen

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

A question of answers

From JayMo, this: Speakin of Dhoni, I ve never seen him play... Prem, whats his technique like? good defence? your thoughts?
Jay, any such analysis has to come with a codicil -- I only saw Dhoni during the one series against Pak earlier this year. Same set of conditions, hence not enough data points to really judge.
Based on what I saw, though? Plus point one: He seems, like Sehwag, the sort of guy who focusses entirely on the ball being bowled to him. Not on the bowler, not on the scoreboard, not on the magnitude of the chase, or any such. His confidence at the crease is very palpable.
Batting-wise, he has a strong bottom-handed grip, with a bit of a gap between top hand and bottom. Couple that with a tendency to come forward to almost any length but the really short, and it makes for plenty of play in front of the stumps -- mostly forcing shots through the point-extra cover arc, and when the ball is on the stumps, through the midwicket region. Reasonably good off his pads behind square, but not as strong in the arc behind point. Fairly good feel for the quick single. Defence is utilitarian -- not copybook, but effective enough in getting the job done. Very rare actually to see him play a full-fledged defensive shot -- tends to address each ball with a high backlift and attacking intent, shifts down at the last moment if he thinks he could get in trouble.
I'd think bowling full to him is pretty pointless -- sort of like with Pietersen, that length will go more often than not. Short of length, lifting around that off stump, seemed from what I saw the best bet -- doesn't let him drive or force on the up, and he is not a good enough cutter to counter that line.
Actually, when I watched him play, my thought was some savvy coach needs to get him into the nets and have him practise back foot play; if he can add that to his arsenal, he's apt to cause a lot of bowlers a lot of headaches.

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