Dhoni’s aces outpunch SA specialists | cricket | Hindustan Times
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Dhoni’s aces outpunch SA specialists

The series is turning out to be a battle between the part-timers and specialists. As of now, the part-timers look like winning it. While India, as they always do, leave the role of the fifth bowler to part-timers, SA, quite inexplicably, are playing with five specialist bowlers. Subhash Rajta reports.

cricket Updated: Jan 20, 2011 03:24 IST
Subhash Rajta

The series is turning out to be a battle between the part-timers and specialists. As of now, the part-timers look like winning it. While India, as they always do, leave the role of the fifth bowler to part-timers, South Africa, quite inexplicably, are playing with five specialist bowlers, something rare even in Tests, leave alone ODIs, these days.

That has cost them dear, especially in the last two ODIs, where they first failed to get across the line which they should have.

"We were 50-50 tonight about going in with an extra batsman. At the end of the day, we were 20 runs short, but I still believe that we should have got there with this batting line-up," said Smith, sounding uncertain about the composition of the first XI.

India skipper MS Dhoni, however, has shown absolute faith in his part-timers. He's not only using them in place of the fifth bowler, but also gives them an extended run even when the specialists have overs left.

In the Johannesburg thriller, he lobbed the ball to Suresh Raina in the dying moments even though both Munaf Patel and Ashish Nehra had overs left.

"That South Africa couldn't get the 30-odd runs with five wickets in hand in the second ODI shows the dangers of having five specialist bowlers and a batsman short," said Dhoni, almost ruling out the use of five bowlers without a quality all-rounder in the side. "The tail-enders can bat, but when it becomes tense out there, they could feel the pressure and give in," he said.

The India skipper was ready with an answer for the age-old logic of favouring the use of specialists over part-timers - if six batsmen can't do the job for you, seventh also won't. "The same logic could be applied to bowlers as well. If four of them can't get the job done, what's the guarantee fifth will do," he said.

One can't complain as long as the part-timers are doing the job, and better than the specialists from the other side.