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Dhoni promoting himself, a good call

Away in New Zealand, it was heartening to watch India return to winning ways. What was noticeable was how Mahendra Singh Dhoni promoted himself up the order. It was a good call as it gave him a chance to hit the ball rather than scratch around it. Ravi Shastri writes.

india Updated: Mar 06, 2009 01:08 IST

It’s difficult to keep your focus on the game when so much is happening back in your region. Cricket would never be the same again. A game in the shadow of the bullet is now a reality. Security should be of prime concern from now on, and here is where cricket boards — let’s keep Pakistan out — would need government support because they have the apparatus.

Away in New Zealand, it was heartening to watch India return to winning ways. The toss, good batting conditions and Virender Sehwag firing at the start were some of the good omens.

What was noticeable was how Mahendra Singh Dhoni promoted himself up the order. It was a good call as it gave him a chance to hit the ball rather than scratch around it.

No Suresh Raina, not Gautam Gambhir, it was the skipper who walked into the middle at number three and played a match-winning hand. I had talked about the element of surprise in my last column. Well, Dhoni’s was certainly one.

Handing over the new ball to Praveen Kumar was another decision that caught the Kiwis by surprise. Praveen had Brendon McCullum in a bind in his opening spell. It was McCullum who had taken the two T20 games away from India. With McCullum in doubt for the second ODI, New Zealand suddenly find themselves in a fix.

Also, India were helped by the Napier pitch, which is the best batting surface in New Zealand. At Wellington’s Westpac Stadium, the visitors could expect harder bounce. A good start will be the key again. It would be interesting to see if Dhoni keeps himself at number three. I have a feeling he might not.

Dhoni has expressed concern about a third seamer. It could mean another miss for Ishant Sharma as well as a perk-up call to the rest of the medium-pacers. Harbhajan has so far been impressive and given how Ravindra Jadeja had bowled on this track in the T20 game, Pragyan Ojha would be a serious contender in the second game as would Irfan Pathan.