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Sight Screen

Monday, October 31, 2005

Dhoni's cartwheels

Sidhartha Vaidyanathan on Cricinfo makes an early call for the elevation of Dhoni into the Test ranks (the call could gain momentum after today, on the lines of the chorus for Kevin Pietersen's inclusion in the England side for the Ashes, following his ODI heroics in South Africa -- and what is more, it could make sense for the same reason).
With his dashing hundred against Pakistan at Vishakapatnam earlier this year, Dhoni showed the zing he can add to this batting line-up. This sizzler at Jaipur, when he showed he was willing to pick and choose the deliveries and yet score just as quick, should go a long way in pitchforking him into the Test line-up as well. He has shown he can tear open first-class attacks and he has shown he can replicate that in the one-dayers. His wicketkeeping too has improved considerably. Either he will fail or turn into a spectacular success at the Test level. It's a gamble India may have to take in the near future.

Dhoni's 183 equals Saurav Ganguly's unforgettable demolition of the Lankans at Taunton in the 1999 World Cup; significantly, he accomplished this knock without the sort of sustained support Rahul Dravid provided at Taunton (oh hey, that is not knocking SG, by the way! These days, you have to stick these statutory notices where necessary, seems like) -- but the really scary thought, a friend who called shortly after the game (and just when I was trying to grab an hour's cat-nap, btw) is that he looked capable, even batting on one leg, of finally breaking that 200-run glass ceiling.
Anand Vasu, also on Cricinfo, does an appreciation of Dhoni:
To play such an innings when chasing requires not just talent, but temperament and nerves of steel. It's never easy chase a target of close to 300, scoring at a run-a-ball over 50 overs. The outfield may be quick, the pitch perfect for batting, and the boundaries short. But you still have to play one ball at a time, concentrating from the time the bowler gets to the top of his mark till the time bat makes contact with the ball. Doing that over after over, 145 times in all, battling cramp and heat, and allowing his natural instincts to do the rest was Dhoni's greatest victory.

That really has been the central point about this innings -- the phenomenal concentration on display. Batsmen of the berserk type tend to overdo it after passing the 100 and, in the process often perish; Dhoni almost literally took fresh guard, wiped the first 100 off the map, started fresh -- and when his captain went, realized it was his job to do and showed the nous to do it.
Here's Dravid on Dhoni:
"I have been privileged to see some great one-day innings by Sachin, Veeru and Sourav. But possibly in a chase, this is pretty close to the hundred Sachin made against Australia in Sharjah. I watched that game on television because I wasn't part of the team, and this has to be one of the best knocks in a game that I have been part of."

And here's a little something that might interest you: In his 148 (123 balls) against Pakistan earlier this year, Dhoni scored at pretty much the same pace -- but in that game, his go-to area for the big ones was through midwicket, repeatedly rocking back to pull, scoop, cart bowlers through and over the field on that side (46 off 148 came in that direction). (Here's his wagonwheel from that game).
Here, it was the same murderous batting -- only the area changed. Once the ball got soft, Dhoni figured his percentage was to stay back and wait, or step forward and flay -- through the covers, which accounted for 83 of the 183 runs he scored on the day. (Wagonwheel).
If you are into such deconstruction, the two wheels juxtaposed (against each other, and even -- if you want to go that far -- against the bowlers in the two games) make interesting viewing.


  • Prema:

    Great innings, a very mature innings and I'll grant Dhoni all the accolades that Vasu heaps on him. But, still early days for his elevation to tests. This was a fairly easy wicket to bat on and the Sri Lankan bowlers were pedestrian. I would reserve my judgement till Dhoni plays England.

    By Blogger hjrsingh, at 11:13  

  • Prem: Wondering if you observed/thought the same as I did on this -

    Shewag was happy to play second fiddle, and mind you he still scored at more than run a ball, to Dhoni in yesterday's match. I was impressed. Instead of matching stroke for stroke, especially since his form and palce in the team has been called into question, Shewag showed excellent temprament and rotated the strike to let Dhoni get on with the butchering job. This is a great example of team spirit and makes me think the team is coalescing around the the new captain.

    Ditto when Pathan was running amok in Nagpur and Tendlkar, without really sacrificng his own strike rate, was happy to play the supporting role. This is how partnerships are built... and I think this is a big improvement from the batting displays of the recent past.

    Wondering what your thoughts are...

    By Blogger saum, at 11:22  

  • I think it is a so typical of an Indian reaction.Granted Dhoni played a blinder - but that doesn't mean he should be selected into tests straightaway..! In the overzealousness to appreciate the magnificience we tend to overkill the resource - let Dhoni not be an example for this syndrome..!!
    I think it is better to let him enjoy the ODI Career for now - Dinesh Kaartik is not faring too badly on Tests Front..!! I think this call is little too premature and can be perilous as well..!

    By Blogger ravi2206, at 11:23  

  • As for the wagon wheel comparison of the 2 100+ innings played by Dhoni, a really good point. Shows that Dhoni is not only a powerful hitter, but reads the pitch pretty well, is judicious in his shot selection and has a pretty decent reportoire of strokes to get the job done. Nice find for Team India...

    By Blogger saum, at 11:26  

  • a correction: it's Sehwag and not Shewag... :)

    By Blogger saum, at 11:29  

  • Well, obviously the selectors wont select him to the Test side based on just this one innings - there are 9 more ODIs to go. But I will wager that a 60% success rate (2 out of 3 innings) will be enough to land him a test slot. And why not? The iron is hot now, make the full use of it. The confidence he is having now will nullify the butterflies in the stomach any Test debuter has.

    By Blogger Gardhabh, at 11:32  

  • Before we promote dhoni to a test spot, what we need to analyse is whether there is a spot for him. As somebody remarked, just because he was magnificient(..that he was with this knock) we shouldn't be altering the team composition just yet. On the bright side chappel should be happy he was a very damn good bench strength in dhoni and take things up from there.

    By Blogger Realms, at 11:42  

  • Ravi's point is interesting, about letting Dhoni go in the short form for now -- interesting, mainly because this was precisely one of the two sides in the Pietersen debate. There, as here, it took a very basic form: On the one hand, were people saying, the guy is playing murderous cricket in one form; his inclusion in the other form brings intent-to-commit-mayhem into the middle order. The other group said, the guy's just had one good ODI series -- don't elevate him into icondom just yet, let him go in the short form version for a while longer before you pitchfork him into the entirely different Test arena.

    Singh-saab, if Dhoni can play this way against SA, I'd frankly be tempted to spring him on England; the Eng team right now is making a fetish of aggression, it might not be too bad an idea to meet fire with fire, no? :-)

    Ssaum: Totally. It's interesting, the role senior players are playing here; more facilitators than rainmakers, ready enough to do their own thing, but at need, equally willing to let the younger lot have their head. In that sense, was also interesting to see Sehwag, the VC, while running for MSD constantly chatting up both his frontman, and Rao, during the tail end of the chase; hopefully, his role there was to keep both focussed on the fact that nothing in the nature of stupid rushes of the blood was called for. Donno, this could equally be reading too much into things -- the 'it's still early days' theory -- but the indications, thus far, are good.

    By Blogger Prem Panicker, at 11:45  

  • MSD is turning out to be a very very good ODI find, but for tests selection should be based primarily on wicketkeeping talent than batting IMO.

    I haven't watched enough of KKD and MSD to pass a judgement here, but a quick analysis of India's past keepers shows that KKD has the best dismissals / matches ratio - agreed it is still early days in his career.

    Both MSD and KKD seem to be very good batsmen and both may play tests with one getting selected purely as a batsman. This is somewhat similar to the situation we had with Pandit and More but KKD and MSD are much much better batsmen than the former keepers.

    The emergence of MSD and KKD has surely killed PAP's chances in tests for the near future. This is again similar to how Sadanand was the first to get he mantle of India's keeper only to lose out to KM and CP. PAP's keeping skills are no match for Sadanand's skills though - who can forget SV's run-out of Javed Miandad after hiding the ball in his hands and then uprooting the stumps??

    By Blogger Prabu, at 11:46  

  • Prem,

    one other thing - do u get irritated by the Singh guy who refers to you as Prema every time? :-)

    "don't elevate him into icondom just yet,"

    What is iCondom BTW? something the Apple makes? is it Nano inches in thickness?

    Jokes aside, MSD, is he is selected to the test side should take the place of SCG with WK left to KKD. MSD may not be as effective if he had to WK a long inning and bat again. IF we are comparing him to KP, then one has to remember that KP did not keep (and in fact did not even field well!)


    By Blogger Prabu, at 11:50  

  • great innings and looking fwd to see the highlights as i missedthe matchtoday. but, before we get too carried away and start comparing dhoni with gilchrist (bound to happen soon) i think there is a possibility that we cannot rule out that dhoni is suited more to the subcontinent pitches than outside. his technique and overall makeup as a free and hard hitting batsman is better for conditions at home. i just checked the average as well (altho too early) is 68.75 at home and 28.5 outside. can he face a quality attack and still do the same outside india will be the best proof. hoping he can do that.

    By Blogger indianfansrcrazy, at 11:51  

  • Dismissals table

    Tests Ct St Dis Ratio
    KKD 10 29 4 33 3.3
    PP 19 39 7 46 2.421052632
    NM 44 99 8 107 2.431818182
    SMHK 88 160 38 198 2.25
    KM 49 110 20 130 2.653061224

    By Blogger Prabu, at 11:52  

  • Prem: I watched the match live till about the 1st drinks break and then followed the rest on the internet so did not know about Sehwag's role when he was running for Dhoni. Very very interesting and a good sign... even if it's early days, because if the exact opposite was happening then the team would slip further into the abyss they were going into for the past year or so. Thanks for sharing that piece of info. :)

    By Blogger saum, at 11:59  

  • Couple of points re: cricinfo article and points mentioned above..
    1. Improved wicketkeeping.. did anyone notice that. It may have improved but it is not even close to being "test" class where he will be keeping to AK, HS on turners. He does not have "soft" gloves.
    2. Guys, comparing ODI averages for batsmen who bat up and down the order is a "goofy" exercise. If the guy is coming at #6 or 7 .. he will naturally have a lower average.

    By Blogger losing now, at 12:15  

  • Prem,
    Thanks for those Brackets.
    Say a lot from within! L.

    By Blogger CrickTip, at 12:24  

  • With Dhoni we now have someone who can murder the bowling and hit sixes in the middle order and especially in the final overs where we have often floundered a good start. And like yesterday we can promote him to bat at one-down or even open when we have to chase a big score or need a galloping start.
    Every successful ODI now team has a hitter in their middle-order :
    Andrew Symonds - Australia.
    KP & Flintoff - England.
    Justin kemp - SA.
    Afridi/Razzaq - Pak.

    By Blogger ClannZĂș, at 13:13  

  • Yeah Dhoni is the guy we needed specially on these flat sub continent wickets. I would prefer that team use him btn 35-50 overs more than using him in the start overs. We have several guys who can play up the order but very few who can murder the bowling in end overs. Though Dhoni can also be a good #4 sandwiched btn Kaif and Dravid.

    By Blogger Vick, at 13:26  

  • Dhoni should be inducted to the test team. Why wait ??? While Kartik has done nothing wrong he has also not inspired supreme confidence in his keeping or batting. The opposition does not fear Kartik when he walks to the crease. Dhoni coming to the crease will make the opposition's mind go for for tailspin. He certainly will add the "fear factor" don't mess with us flavor the team.

    By Blogger MM, at 13:27  

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    By Blogger indianfansrcrazy, at 13:51  

  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger indianfansrcrazy, at 13:52  

  • simply because karthik is still possibly a better keeper and dhoni most likely will not be as good test batsman as in odis and as karthik..karthik's technique ansd temperament are pretty good

    By Blogger indianfansrcrazy, at 13:54  

  • Wow, this is great. What an incredible turnaround. What is also interesting is the amount of competitve cricket players on this team. Sure, everyone is competitve but some more than others.

    Team has to win kinda players:
    Sachin, Dravid, Dhoni, Kaif

    individual over team:
    Sehwag, Yuvraj, Harbajan,

    Guys who are competitive but not there yet:

    By Blogger ahem, at 14:37  

  • ajit,
    I would place Pathan in your first category, but I guess "but not there yet" implies he will be there in the near future?

    By Blogger Sahir, at 16:12  

  • indianfanscrazy,
    Karthik has simply failed with the bat. Sad since he has talent, but true. An average of 18 after 10 tests is pathetic. Especially if you consider that 4 of those 10 tests were against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh! Not to mention, all 6 other tests were all at home. So if this is what he's going to bat like (and 10 tests is a fair amount) at home and against minnows, how is he going to do abroad against quality opposition. It would be debatable if he had displayed a brilliant set of gloves, but he's dropped his fair share of clangers as well. It's tough on the lad, but the Sri Lanka series is the last one before the all important one against Pakistan. If you are going to blood a new keeper, it has to be now. Otherwise, imagine Karthik fails with the bat in anohter series, we are faced with the possibility of sending someone to bat at 7 in Pakistan with an average of 18, or play a debutant. Dhoni's got to be drafted in. He will also provide the ability to play 5 specialist bowlers if necessary. You could play Dhoni at 6 and Pathan at 7.

    By Blogger Sahir, at 16:19  

  • i know what you are saying but he actually performed better against sa and pakistan (in fact saved us against pakistan and we finally won the match) than the lesser playing nations which cannot be taken lightly..i have seen both of their batting and felt he is better suited to test cricket than dhoni..can dhoni save/win a test match by playing according to the situation and face quality attack..bang bang bang all the time will not work when he comes to bat at test cricket.. also assuming karthik is still the better keeper which is the day job for both of them..

    By Blogger indianfansrcrazy, at 17:47  

  • Not to forget.. 93 runs came in a single knock of Karthik.. if you take that innings out of the 15-16 odd he played.. his avg is in first part of single digits.. so a consittent 15 cant be expected out of him.. His glovework is not better than Dhoni.. At best it is as good(or say bad) as Dhoni.. I have seen him keep against AUS and PAK.. on home soil..

    Dhoni is most likely to win you matches.. Karthik is also no grafter.. he is also flashy.. however without the punch..

    Dhoni is miles ahead of him in batting.. Karthik.. bad luck.

    My ratings are these..
    Dhoni => Patel => Karthik

    in terms of usefulness to the team..

    By Blogger Thanks Chappel, at 18:04  

  • i am not reading too much into the avg as yet but not sure why you say his glovework is not better than dhoni's..sounds strange as that is precisely why karthik was chosen for the test team...i think karthik has better technique and temperament as a test batsman than dhoni..also, match winning in odis by being a pinch hitter is completely different than winning matches (not expected from a test wk..but playing according to the situation is more imp and probably getting team out of trouble)..lets face it in a test match if the top order is not winning you matches..a wk will not most likely..and you are also assuming big hitting is match winning in test match conditions...however, having said all that i just want to mention i am a dhoni fan..just dont want wrong and expectation too soon from our highly expectant brethren

    By Blogger indianfansrcrazy, at 18:22  

  • indianfanscrazy

    Gily has won many matches for AUS.. Think Dhoni comes at 270/6.. hit a quicfire 40-50.. (which I am sure he will.. its no longet the game of 80s..).. and you end up scoring 400.. in one day.. that wins you the match..

    And all the leading keepers.. Sangakara/Gilly add to their batting.. 7 batsmaen are always better than 6 if you can afford to have so.. Even england is persisting with G.Jones.. who is worse in keeping than all there of our India keepers.. just because of the factor that He can BAT..

    karthik has better technique and temperament as a test batsman than dhoni

    This statement of yours is laughable..to say the least..

    lets face it in a test match if the top order is not winning you matches..a wk will not most likely..and you are also assuming big hitting is match winning in test match conditions

    Ohh.. Gilly comes to mind again.. and also if top order is winning you the match, a hitter keeper will knock the opposition out.. and thumping victories helps the team in coming matches always..

    and big hitting is always winning in test match.. we look like winning more these days because of big hitting of Sehwag.. atleast gives us more time and runs for our bowlers to work on..

    By Blogger Thanks Chappel, at 19:21  

  • once again as i predicted since this morning, dhoni has started getting compared to gilly and same stuff is expected from him..when will we learn to pace ourselves..c'mon dude..gilly vs. dhoni..??? already?????....let dhoni play like this for 1 more year..at least..then we can even start talking..

    while you are laughing..let us know what is so funny..i hope you know it for your sake..

    you do need technique, et al in test matches..last time i checked..have you seen a test match lately??

    By Blogger indianfansrcrazy, at 19:55  

  • None is comparing Gilly to Dhoni or vice versa..

    I am just trying to tell you what an explosive bat can do in Test cricket.. which you fail to understand..

    Now in terms of a wicket-keeper bat, Dhoni is the best we had.. hence we look forward to him being in the tests..

    Keeping wise, Karthik is no kirmani.. He is at the same level as Dhoni..

    Now if you say, Karthik is a better batsman than Dhoni.. technique.. temperament.. whatever.. then hwo do I stop myself from laughing :))

    Dhoni's technique and temperament.. and hitting.. and everything else.. and more.. is WAY better than Karthik.. its not even a fair comparison to say the least..

    And I have seen all the test matches.. not only lately but for many years now.. except when we play minnows like Zim or Bangla.. which I didnt feel hard pressed to watch..

    Look at Karthik's scoreline in Test Macthes..

    10, 4, 1, 46, 25, 11, 6, 28, 93, 10, 9, 1, 1

    So except that inings of 93.. has he done anything.. mind you all these matches were either at home soil or against minnow.. Imagine his technique delivering against AUS/SA/ENG/PAK abroad against good bowling attacks..

    Even that 93.. It was an OK innings.. chancy.. though aggressive.. but this is just one swallow..

    With suach a keeper bat, you cant imagine to win much even in tests.. can you.. your top order also need partners sometimes..

    Karthik as a bat.. not good enough.. He may have potential.. but havent realized it one bit.. While Dhoni is tonking everything that is being thrown on him..

    And above all, if DHONI CAN PLAY MURLI.. he is better than most.. even likes of Yuvi/Kaif..

    anyway.. come SL series and Karthik is back to domestic cricket.. go show your technique there..

    So what are you smoking..

    By Blogger Thanks Chappel, at 20:47  

  • 1. I have not seen a more focused Indian team than this team, since the epochal Indian tours of Australia and Pakistan. There is a hunger and drive and eagerness to succeed which is refreshing and is reminiscent of the famous combative attitude instilled by SG, but that has been missing for so long now. I almost lost interest in Indian Cricket afer witnessing the ho hum performances of the last few series, but this squad has been able to ignite that passion all over again. The only thing to do is to wait and watch whether this intensity is maintained over a period or is it just a flash in the pan.

    2. I have seen a lot of classic innings, but have seen very few innings of such controlled ferocity and brutal hitting that Dhoni unleashed, almost carribean in its brutal dismantling of the opposition. SRT, SG and VS, during their best knocks still exuded a sense of style and their knocks were overtures marked by sub-continental wrist work and artistry mixed with shots of raw power. Dhoni's ton was batting at its most elemental. There was a visceral savagery and power that left the Lankans stunned, shocked and awed. To see VS playing second fiddle to MSD was amazing and dare I say it - a signing of his growing maturity?

    3. There seems to be some planning and thought in this Indian Team's approach to each game, with a willingness to be flexible. This shows in the Field placements, the fielding displays and also, the specific bowling plans during warm-ups. Positive signs overall for Indian cricket.

    By Blogger rajparth, at 23:17  

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    By Blogger indianfansrcrazy, at 08:13  

  • thanks chappel, i checked both of their first class career stuff and i saw that dhoni's batting avg is better and there is not much difference with the wk records (not sure that proves much tho)..so i think you are probably right in the assessment that dhoni will be better long term option (i agree about the explosive capability)if he is more or less of the same keeping ability and a better bat. i think both of them should be tried against quality bowling attacks (both in and outside india)and see how they keep in test matches..it will be better also to have the same keeper for both odis and test matches as well..but, my point is that we should not shove a guy with too much of our expectations and then come up with nothing later..which is what we typically do..but, i will admit that dhoni should be tried out to see what happens..thanks for taking me out of the pot on this issue:)..let me know when you want to feel the same..i can send some :)

    By Blogger indianfansrcrazy, at 08:14  

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