Sunday, July 31, 2011

Dhoni must open

Nine years ago at Trent Bridge, Virender Sehwag was sent to open the inning and responded with a 106 that changed his life. One can even make the argument that it eventually led to India gaining the #1 Test ranking for the first time ever.

Sometime tomorrow either India will somehow get the 4 wickets it needs in the second English inning of the Trent Bridge Test or Andrew Strauss will play that favorite parlor game of commentators (when will he declare?) and no matter when he declares it will be said to have come at the wrong time.

Either way, it appears that India will have to score more runs in the 4th inning to win than anyone has ever done in the 2000 previous Tests played. More realistically, they will have to bat about 4-5 sessions to secure a draw. Based on how they responded to a similar scenario in the first Test, it probably isn't going to happen.

Which brings me back to Sehwag. In 2002, India opened with Sehwag and his blistering starts have set the template for many an Indian win since then. Tomorrow, I am asking MS Dhoni to do something he has never done before in his life - open the batting in a Test.

That move has all kinds of upside and very little downside. He gets a chance to take the attack to the English bowlers. If he gets out, no sweat, he has not exactly been in the best of form and the second new ball has anyway gobbled him up. But if he does get off to a flier, he is the sort who capitalizes on these moments. By leading from the front he will regain some of that equanimity that seems to have ebbed from his countenance of late. Also, by opening, he lets the batting order settle back into Dravid at 3, SRT at 4, VVS at 5, Raina at 6, Yuvraj at 7, Harbhajan at 8...enough gun powder to capitalize on a good start if it comes.

Come on, Dhoni, show me that you still have some of that out-of-the-box thinking left in you. Step forward and pick up the gauntlet. Viru did it in spectacular style for Ganguly so many years ago, you can do it for yourself. It is the time to send messages, and this will be as resounding as any you've sent in the past, including the time you seized the moment on April 2, 2011.

P.S. By the way, I may be the only person who wants to see you suspended for a Test match for the appallingly slow over-rate maintained by your team. You look like you really need the rest. Also, what's with sending Rahul Dravid to face the press at the end of the day after what happened today at the stroke of tea? Man up, MSD, and face the microphone!


BF said...

My thoughts:

1. India under Duncan Fletcher are a bunch of wimps.
2. They neither make bold moves on the field, nor do they take bold decisions off the field.
3. You in the post have outlined some outstanding on-field tactics that could have helped India seize the initiative.
4. But even off the field:
a) Tendulkar quite obviously carried in an illness into the Lords' Test. But he had to be played since it would be his last chance to notch a 100 there. Disservice to the nation by the great man, and a disservice to the nation by the team selectors who would have done well to put emotions aside and sat him down.
b) Harbhajan Singh had nothing left in the tank at Lords. Playing him at Nottingham was a mistake - he needs to get back to domestic cricket and earn his place.
c) For the next match, if any of the following is not fully fit - Sehwag, Gambhir, Tendulkar, Zaheer Khan - do not play him. India is better served by 11 above-average but fit cricketers than by 11 brilliant ones who may not be fit to play. I of course assume that Harbhajan will not see himself in a playing 11 for next two tests at least.
d) Leave Laxman at no 5; the bottom of the order is being exposed when he is moved up to no 3.
e) Yuvraj's 50 was a flash in the pan.

Jaunty Quicksand said...

Wow! India is definitely going to win the Third Test match. It is very rare that BF and I see eye to eye on sporting matters.

But, for once, I find myself nodding, nodding, and nodding along with you and agree with all the points you make.

If you are afraid to dream big, then your failures will be magnified even more.