Tuesday morning had an interesting piece of news on MS Dhoni. It read, “Javagal Srinath blames Dhoni’s media handling for T20 exit”. Normally, one would want to know where the quote came from but I knew I wouldn’t get the reporter or news agency’s name. “Agency report” was all there was to it. Such items will never have proper coordinates for obvious credibility reasons.
At the backdrop of India’s T20 exit, news of an ex- cricketer ridiculing Dhoni gains momentum. This is an old practice and will remain an integral part of journalism.
At the press conference, Dhoni was honest and spoke not only about his batsmen’s inability to cope with short-pitched deliveries but also his below-par form. He even went further to say sorry for the defeat. Somehow, apologising for defeats is not a good practice. I’d understand if the team’s been doing badly for a while, but when it is on top, an odd defeat is part of the game.
All of a sudden, Gary Kirsten has lots on his plate. The short-pitched problem has struck Indian batting again. I thought short-pitched deliveries were useful only in Test matches and had ceased to be effective in the shorter format. To my disbelief, it has come back to haunt Indian batsmen, and that too in the shortest format. The effectiveness of short-pitched balls is a combination of the wicket and the capability of a bowler.
The England bowlers must have taken the cue from Fidel Edwards in the previous game. They realised that short-pitched stuff aimed at the Indian batsmen not only created dot balls but also opened up the possibility of taking wickets. They bowled more than three short balls in an over while playing well within the rules of the game.
Indian batsmen, predominantly good on the front-foot, were found wanting when pushed back. I was amazed to see the diagram where more than 45% of the balls were pitched short in length. Suresh Raina’s problem with short-pitched stuff is similar to any other batsmen who cannot play spin with ease. The challenge for him is to sort out the issue without losing his core front-foot batting strengths.
It was quite evident that short-pitched balls led to the defeat and not Dhoni’s love-hate relationship with the press.