At the start of the tour, Graeme Swann had declared that England’s main target of the summer series would be MS Dhoni. For him, the India captain was the player to get for England to be successful.
The Indian captain's fortunes have taken a beating. Some of his aura has diminished as India lost each game against England, a whitewash in the Test series followed by defeats in the T20 and the second one-dayer. It was his first Test series as captain.
Swann is not prepared to write off Dhoni, though. For him he still is the player to get. “He has played a big role to help India reach the top. He was very much their form batsman towards the end of the Test series. To blame him for the defeats is really harsh. We still look at him as a formidable opponent and a fine captain,” said the off-spinner, who starred with 3 wickets in second ODI.
MSD can revive India
India go into the third ODI at the Oval as underdogs but if anyone has the ability to transform the fortunes then it is Dhoni himself. More than his 'keeping, the team will look up to him for a special performance with the bat. Given the might of the England batting, the challenge for India is to play above themselves and Dhoni's big-hitting could prove the catalyst.
Swann was impressed with the young talent that has come into the Indian team, including many as injury replacements. The players in question include the openers Parthiv Patel and Ajinkya Rahane, who have played aggressive cricket to help the team post challenging totals.
“I think what has happened, with the high turnover of the India players a few of the younger guys who have come in seem to be playing with a fairly carefree attitude that's really working for them.
“We've been provided with new challenges; it doesn't feel like the same team we played against three or four weeks ago. So it feels like we're still learning about the opposition, and I won't say we go in thinking we're going to trounce this lot today. We go in really thinking there's a game on our hands each time.”