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Targeting Dhoni for exit is totally unwarranted

cricket Updated: Jun 16, 2009 01:13 IST
Matthew Hayden
Matthew Hayden
Hindustan Times
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The defending champions were second best against a resurgent England, who clearly had their plans for India’s batsman, and were meticulous in their execution.

It is a belief in cricketing circles that Indian batsman are susceptible to short-pitch bowling, and going by their last two games, against the West Indies and England, the batters did look at sea when the ball was above chest level.

One must always remember his strengths and back himself. When I was out of the international arena between 1994-1999, I focused so hard on my weaknesses that I almost forgot my strengths. Indian batsmen prefer the ball coming on to the bat, and are such fine timers on good batting surfaces. It’s true that some of them struggle against the short stuff, but they have done well abroad of late, and it’s only a matter of time before most of them play fast bowling with disdain, much as in the manner they play spin.

I’m sure the fans are gutted, but the Indians are a talented lot, and will undoubtedly play better cricket in the future.

India were a bit unsettled with their batting line-up and a few players didn’t look comfortable in the middle. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is at his best when he attacks the bowling, and I was surprised to see him play a sheet anchor’s role. He did admit in the post-match press conference that he is struggling to clear the ropes, but a player of his talent and ability will surely be back in form. He does not deserve unwarranted criticism for the exit, as he is the top dog in the team, and the best man to lead India to further success.

The game against South Africa has little relevance in terms of standings, but it will present an opportunity for the Indian boys to go out and show what a fine T20 side they are.

South Africa are in ominous form and I’m sure Dale Steyn and Wayne Parnell will also hit the Indian batsman with a barrage of bouncers and short stuff.

The day’s other action has New Zealand taking on an in-form Sri Lanka. The Kiwis have one last opportunity to salvage their semifinal hopes and will go all out for a win and do justice to their ability.