Author : Suhithkumar
India’s rise to the top of the ODI rankings has been constructive, well-deserved and a timely achievement. It cannot be understated that Dhoni has marshaled his resources very well ever since he took over limited overs captaincy in 2008. Later on, you will get to see the factors Dhoni has brought to the table which have proved to be the difference in the overall analysis.
Winning the world cup after 28 long years on that fine evening in Wankhede on April 2, 2011 started the culmination for India and ever since, the rise to the top has been constructive with some underlining victories like winning the Champions Trophy in England and following it up with a dramatic tri-series victory in the Caribbean against Srilanka in the final . Winning these two tournaments to go with many more triumphs both at home and on the road have cemented our status firmly as World no.1 in One-Day Internationals.
Now that we have achieved the summit position in limited overs cricket, do Dhoni’s devils have it in them to sustain it for over a period of time? They certainly do and here are the 5 reasons why India can sustain their no.1 status in One-Day Internationals.
Live-wire of a fielding outfit
This is something that Dhoni has stressed time and time again and at times, he had some harsh words to say out in the public as well. The most conspicuous incident vindicating the previous sentence could be the way he called the trio of Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag and Gautam Gambhir as “slow movers on the field” when India were involved in the Triangular series in Australia during the early part of 2012.
But then, things have changed for the good and Tendulkar hasn’t been a regular in the one-day scheme of things, Sehwag doesn’t look like making it back into the side anytime soon and Gambhir isn’t far behind Sehwag as well. Rohit Sharma seems to have sealed a spot for himself and coming to the point, Rohit is a swift mover across the turf. Add him to the other live-wires in the side like Jadeja, Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and if Yuvraj finds a place in the side, you are looking at one of the acrobatic fielding outfits, who are prepared a dive and slide around.
So, the underlining factor is that Dhoni has got what he wanted and as has been the case in recent times, India have put up some seriously good fielding displays and probably stuffed Nasser Hussain for his “Donkey” comments when India toured England post the World Cup victory in 2011.
A good fielding side is imperative when you travel abroad and the upcoming cricket world cup in Australia requires a good fielding side, if you have any ambition of successfully defending your title.
Master motivator in MS Dhoni
Dhoni has been the nucleus around which a certain Suresh Raina or Ishant Sharma have revolved. And not to forget the resurgence of Rohit Sharma, who has to thank and credit Dhoni for persisting with him and probably mentoring his rise to the top.
Just to add substance to calling MS Dhoni a “master motivator”, this is what he had to say to Nasser Hussain in the presentation ceremony after the Champions Trophy triumph against England, Dhoni said ”I told them not to look at the sky or the opposition. I told them that God helps those who help themselves. God is not coming to save us. If you want to win this trophy, we’ll have to fight it out,”.
Dhoni has the respect of everyone who shares the dressing room with him and even the ones on the bench respect Dhoni for what he says and does. With the expectation that Dhoni will continue to lead India for the next couple of years, you got to believe that Dhoni can engineer success for team India and the newcomers in the side.
Good players of short-pitch bowling
Whenever we have traveled abroad or even at home, when we have faced Australia or South Africa, teams which have genuine fast bowlers have tested us with quick short-pitch bowling. Albeit Suresh Raina continues to be targeted with short-pitch bowling, the presence of Virat Kohli, Rohit Sharma, Shikhar Dhawan and Dhoni has solved our frailties against short-pitch bowling. The above-mentioned players excluding Raina are good hookers and pullers and that’s an added advantage going forward.
Now, short-pitch bowling can be looked at as a subtle factor that will not faze our progress or our ambition to remain on top of the one-day rankings but if you ask the Indian sides of yesteryears, they would mention this as one of the serious chinks in our armory. I think, the upcoming tour of South Africa will give us a better picture of where we stand when it comes to playing short-pitch bowling against the likes of Steyn and Morkel on those bouncy pitches in Johannesburg and Durban. But overall, you would have to believe that we are fortunate to have these players at this moment who are very good at playing short-pitch bowling.
Keeping in mind the upcoming tours of South Africa, New Zealand and England next year, we shouldn’t have much of a problem even if we are targeted with short-pitch bowling.
Indian sides of the past have been over-reliant on Sachin Tendulkar and during the early part of the 20th century, Dravid was the wall as far as Indian batting was concerned. But the scenarios have changed and we are no more a one-man army. We have players to stand up when the chips are down and not only that, we have able replacements if someone is injured or has a dip in form.
Mohammed Shami replacing Ishant Sharma for the last 4 one-day internationals (excluding the washed out games) against Australia is a pertinent example of what I am talking about here. Shami’s good bowling form has also meant that Umesh Yadav has to warm the benches for the time being and considering the fact that Umesh Yadav is senior to Shami in terms of experience, it makes the competition of finding a place in the 11 all the more intriguing.
A good bench goes a long way in a team’s progress and having a strong bench for Team India means they are well on their way to sustaining their no.1 status in One-Day Internationals.
There was a period in Indian cricket, when pundits and even the ardent Indian cricket fanatic wrote the team off, if India had to chase a massive score or defend a modest total but those days have gone high up into the mountains. The current Indian side is strong mentally and Dhoni’s positive and pragmatic attitude has been contagious on a lot of youngsters, who have made their way into the team lately.
You need to be mentally strong, if you want to be a top side and remain a top side for a period of time. Dhoni’s devils seem to have it in them to come out on top when they have their backs to the wall and hence the prevalent team culture among Dhoni’s devils is why India can sustain their no.1 status in One-Day Internationals.