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Dhoni among the finest in the last three decades

india Updated: Apr 11, 2011 00:17 IST
Ian Chappell
Ian Chappell
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

India's emphatic World Cup victory has proved beyond doubt they are currently the best all-round cricket team. MS Dhoni's polished performance as skipper, where he pushed, prodded and cajoled his side into peaking at the right time, has shown he's not only the best leader in the game but also one of the finest of the last 30 years. His performance ranks him with the other top class leaders of that period; Imran Khan, Mark Taylor and Arjuna Ranatunga.

Unlike their predecessors as the number one ranked team -- (West Indies and Australia) -- India do not have a dominant attack. Considering that bowlers win matches, this makes Dhoni's performance even more meritorious; he's emulated Ranatunga in conjuring up a World Cup victory with a moderate attack.

Dhoni has smoothly switched to the Indian Premier League, where defending champions Chennai Super Kings have started with a victory.

No Challengers
As there's no indication India are on the verge of unearthing a couple of world-class bowlers and three of their best Test batsmen are closer to retirement, Dhoni has a serious challenge on his hands to keep the team at the top of the longer game rankings. However, he can take comfort from the fact that none of the stronger teams look likely to surge past India.

This is one of the reasons why the World Cup was so fascinating; all the teams were flawed. Consequently it was an extremely open tournament. With three consecutive World Cup finals [1999, 2003 & 2007] dominated by Australia, the tournament badly needed the upsets and strong finale that 2011 provided.

Spin trouble
India were also the most capable batting side against spinners. However, the World Cup exposed a worrying trend, of batsmen whose footwork is inadequate against spin bowling.

This is even more of a concern when you consider that, of the three great 21st century spinners, Muttiah Muralitharan, Shane Warne and Anil Kumble, only the Sri Lankan was in attendance; and by the end of the tournament, he was virtually on one leg. There seems to be a train of thought amongst batsmen from some countries that it's less dangerous to employ all manner of zany, premeditated shots, than it is to counter spin bowling with sharp footwork. This kind of warped thinking is either a product of poor early coaching or lazy batting, or more likely a combination of both.

Whilst this was a successful World Cup, the ICC should always be looking for ways to improve it. The introduction of a qualifying tournament and the distribution of a paper by Indian coaches on how to teach young batsmen the correct footwork against spin bowling would be a step in the right direction.