When Mahendra Singh Dhoni first came in the Indian team, he was known for his big hitting and a penchant for hitting sixes almost at will. The manner in which he attacked the quick bowlers was thrilling to say the least.
Shoaib Akhtar, who tried to intimidate him with short deliveries, glares, stares and a few choice Punjabi words, soon found that the ball was coming back at him at a speed quicker than what he was hurling at him. And the irony was that, if the delivery action was wonky, so also was the use of the bat!
In Nagpur and in Delhi, some Australian bowlers would have felt the same. The only difference was that, instead of the ball coming back just about every time at Akhtar, this time around it was not so frequent.
Yes, Dhoni has changed his approach and it is one that the Indian team needs even though the crowds may not agree with it.
After the retirement of Sourav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid’s omission from the team, the Indian batting needs a bulwark who can accelerate the scoring when needed and Dhoni is doing that to perfection.
He did that in Nagpur and again in Delhi. The need of the hour was building a partnership and steadying the innings. Both times, his efforts and his partnerships won the matches for India, and if wins are what the country wants and expects then they should be prepared to accept the Dhoni who is not a swashbuckler but a cold, calculated assassin of the opposition — one who will not kill in one go but inflict little cuts here and there and weaken the opponent before delivering the coup de grace.
If Gautam Gambhir and Suresh Raina were his partners in Nagpur, at the Kotla, it was Yuvraj who helped him take the game away from the Australians who had posted a respectable score on the board. It was a score that India would
have defended for sure with the options now available to Dhoni.
He is making good use of the part-timers Yuvraj and Raina, as they fill out the fifth bowler’s quota. He is giving young Ravindra Jadeja lots of overs and the left-hander is clearly gaining in confidence and that is good news because his
fielding and batting are plusses too. After the loss in the first game, the fielding has become sharper too and the effort level has gone up. It looks a very confident unit now and the Australians will have to lift their game considerably to win from here.
Don’t be surprised if they do that. They are the world champions and they know how to come back from tough
positions, and so we could be in for some terrific cricket over the next few days.