By Ajit Vijaykumar
Hobart (Mail Today): India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has a peculiar habit of answering in the most longwinding way possible, weaving sentences into one big bunch and leaving it to the listeners to make the head and tail of it. The complexity of his answers is also reflected in some of the decisions he has made so far in the spectacularly shambolic ODI tri-series here. While his acumen saw Dhoni ride a remarkable wave of wins in all formats for years, of late the same grey matter has come up with some head-scratch inducing strategies.
The most memorable one has to be the move in the match against Australia in Brisbane which India lost by 110 runs. All Australian top-order batsmen, apart from the now axed Ricky Ponting, contributed with substantial scores, yet Dhoni didn’t give regular spinner Ravindra Jadeja even one over in the game — despite the team being behind the over rate and seamers Vinay Kumar and Irfan Pathan going at over six runs an over. The logic that the skipper gave was as left-handed batsmen like Matthew Wade and Mike Hussey were set, he didn’t want to bowl a left-arm spinner to a left-handed batsman. So by that logic, no off-spinner should hope to get the wicket of a right-handed batsman.
Moving to the next manoeuvre, the wicket-keeper-captain has demonstrated unshakeable faith in the rumoured batting prowess of Jadeja, even as the more accomplished R Ashwin and Irfan were sent in to swing their bats after him. In four innings, Irfan has scored 96 runs, compared to Jadeja’s 101 in seven. That Ashwin has a Test hundred and batted well in the Test series didn’t force any changes in the batting order.
On Sunday, as Dhoni spelled out a list of ‘what went wrong’, he said the team was not harbouring much hopes of making the final as the net run rate was against them. It took the media persons present to make him realise that a bonus win against Sri Lanka here and an Australia win in the final round robin game would take India to the finals.
Either Dhoni is being advised by some highly paid, poorly informed internet surfers or the team really has thrown in the towel as it is tough to digest a captain not knowing this. When asked what made him tick as a captain and whether he is truly interested in the job, Dhoni smiled it off: “It’s an interesting responsibility that has been given to me and I am trying to fulfil it to the full potential that we have got. There will be tough tours. We have seen that teams go through a purple patch and they slow down and again come to a higher level. It’s a passing phase and, hopefully, we are also going through that.”
The team for the Asia Cup in Bangladesh will be picked in Mumbai on Wednesday, a day after the Sri Lanka game. It is all but certain that certain heads will roll. And Dhoni’s muddled captaincy chords won’t be music to the ears of the selectors.
Reproduced From Mail Today. Copyright 2012. MTNPL. All rights reserved.
By Ajit Vijaykumar