Australia v India, 2nd ODI, Brisbane January 15, 2016

Slightly difficult to pick Rishi Dhawan - Dhoni


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Always believed Rahane is a good opener - Dhoni

The Himachal Pradesh allrounder Rishi Dhawan is likely to accumulate a lot of frequent flyer points and bowl a lot in the nets, but the India cap looks as far as it did before he was selected for the Australia tour. On pitches where Australia are playing no specialist spinners, and where the India spinners have been moderately effective, captain MS Dhoni feels the only way Rishi can play is if a specialist batsman is dropped, and if that happens, Dhoni said, India will be playing with "six bowlers".

Despite going for 239 in 37 overs for three wickets to outfield catches, spinners R Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja are being considered better on hopelessly unhelpful tracks than Rishi on tracks with good bounce. This should come as a strong message to the selectors.

Dhoni was asked if he had given a thought to going horses for courses as opposed to playing his best bowlers on paper. He responded: "If you see what is important is to see that we played the first game with our best bowling attack. In this game, too, Ishant [Sharma] was fit and we thought he will get good bounce. We feel it is important to play with a proper bowling set-up. And at the same time you cannot neglect the batting.

"When it comes to whether we can play the extra seamer, if your frontline three seamers are going for runs, it is slightly difficult for somebody like a Rishi to come in. He may bowl well, but I am saying it will be slightly difficult for him to be successful with the fielding restrictions. He is not someone who bowls very quick. At the same time in the middle overs you need to bowl a lot of dot balls. That's where you have to decide whether you are better off playing with the two spinners.

"The only option you have is, you will have to sit out Ashwin because Jadeja gives you that cushion of batting. It is a difficult one. I still feel 3-2 (seamer-spinner) is the best combination. If somebody was there who could bowl a bit of seam-up, that obviously helps. As of now we don't really have [one]. We can't really look at Rishi because to play him we will have to get rid of a proper batsman. Then we will have to play six bowlers. Six bowlers is a bit of luxury to have in cricket nowadays."

Australia, on the other hand, have handed out debuts to two fast bowlers and have stuck with them. They have rotated two other quicks, but have been blessed with the presence of a proper allrounder in James Faulkner and a batsman who can bowl in Glenn Maxwell. The only "allrounder" in the Indian squad is not being considered much of a bowler. In the absence of any evidence against proper batsmen, Dhoni's assessment of Rishi is the only considered one we have even though it goes against the view of the selectors.

At any rate Dhoni seems to have stopped asking for better from his bowlers. After India lost defending 309 in Perth, there was a clear change in the way they batted in the middle over in Brisbane. They had now set themselves up for 340, but lost their way in the end, and the bowlers gave up the defence of 308 just as easily in Brisbane as they did in Perth. Now Dhoni says there are only two choices left: either score in excess of 330 or just choose to chase. And he said that while answering a question about the extras - 11 wides and a no-ball.

"In both the games we have given a fair amount of extras," Dhoni said. "That takes that number of runs off the total. On good wickets it does matter. As far as Ishant is concerned, I think the breeze was flowing in circular motions. I felt that made it slightly difficult for him. I feel even if we cut down the extras we will have to score more runs. There are two options: either put pressure on [our] batsmen and score 330 or chase down the score, give them the batting first. These are the only two options we have got. We will have a look and decide what suits us the best."

If India are to score those extra 30 runs a quick start from Shikhar Dhawan can go a long way, but he has thrown his wicket away twice. Even if Dhoni wanted to drop him, he wouldn't be able to because the selectors have given him only five established specialist batsmen. The only way for that to happen would be for Ajinkya Rahane to open, the idea of which Dhoni likes; he is not entirely convinced with the idea of Rahane the middle-order batsman.

"Jinx has improved a lot in his batting," Dhoni said. "But also the wickets are good here. What is important is to see him when the wickets slow down and he is pushed to play the big shots. When ball comes on he loves it, and plays very good strokes. I feel he has improved a lot. We will wait and watch and see what the best position for him is. I have personally believed he is very good opener because he plays proper cricketing shots. He cuts and pulls, but he plays proper shots. He can accelerate whenever he wants to. Also once he starts with the new ball, he is quite good by the time the middle overs start. So far it is good he has done well in both the positions. We will see how it goes."

For now, though, Shikhar has the captain's confidence. "Shikhar is someone who loves to play his shots," Dhoni said. "If somebody plays shots from the very start, there will be periods when he won't score runs. You can say it was a rash shot, but that's the time you are supposed to back your stroke-players."

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • J on January 20, 2016, 6:27 GMT

    I like the way dhoni seems to go out of his way to pick faults in rahane. Honest feedback is perfectly fine but criticising (or offering backhanded compliments) to a player who has been your best and most consistent batsmen - especially in fast foreign pitches - reeks of bias. Particularly when dhoni goes out of his way to defend an average, slow scoring and out of form player like dhawan.

  • IndTheBest on January 19, 2016, 14:56 GMT

    I don't agree that India does not have good allrounders. Realty is that the team management doesn't respect them and don't nurture properly. You have never tried Gurkeerat, Rishi Dhawan and Pandey (to certain extent) then how can you say at least one of them is not better than Shikhar Dhawan who has been given chance and continuously failing. Can't Rahane open and Pandey/Mann come a bit ahead in the order or even can you not give chance Jadeja on number 4 to see if he can accelerate the pace. Come on Dhoni, you are given what the selector think is best and that what you have to use in a tour. Next time either you get a better team or team gets a better captain. You know what I mean, right?

  • Heramb on January 17, 2016, 4:50 GMT

    SABBI5 Could not have put it better. Virat's positive approach to winning matches rather than whining at press conferences has brought positive results for India in Test matches including a rare series win in SL and a near whitewash of then World No.1 SA at home. Virat should be made the captain in all 3 formats and if this is considered too much of an ask for one man,India's selectors can even consider Rohit to be India's T20 captain after the T20 WC at home,till which Dhoni has been named captain. Rohit has done well as captain for IPL franchise Mumbai Indians and there is no reason why these 2 cannot resurrect the damage Dhoni has caused Indian cricket by unabashedly backing his chosen few.Poor selections,negative mindset and poor on-field tactics of MSD have taken India's shorter format cricket backward.However,one cannot deny that he remains India's most successful captain with 3 ICC trophies(next only to Ricky Ponting) and even took India to the No.1 ranking in Tests in 2009.

  • Pradeep Naga on January 17, 2016, 4:02 GMT

    when frontline bowlers (Ishant, Umesh) are going for runs, Rishi might find it difficult to restrict the batsman.... why not bhuvi in place of Aswhin/Jadeja? given these flat wickets, why are 6 batsman not enuf? Bhuvi can bat too

  • Devinderpal Singh on January 17, 2016, 3:37 GMT it is so difficult to pick Rishi Dhawan, because India would then have to drop a batsman, leading to India having a sixth bowler, but it is so easy to accomodate Stuart "only gets picked because know who" Binny, because India can easily drop a batsman, in order to have half a bowler? What rubbish. If he was Rishi Binny/Tendulkar or similar, he would have debuted at, or before, the World Cup last year.

  • manminder on January 16, 2016, 19:39 GMT

    virat is slowly building the test team which dhoni ruined. now he is doing same to odi team if dhoni will be captain any longer things will become worst for team. just imagine if rohit lose his form again or virat or ajinkya get injured what this team will do. middle order strength is zero. dhoni please go. selectors needs to think about it before its to late

  • Sumit Nishant Kujur on January 16, 2016, 19:19 GMT

    dhoni is just being rigid in his team selection..

  • Gokula Krishnan on January 16, 2016, 16:49 GMT

    Dropping Raina and Not picking Yuvraj for ODI has costed one batting slot allowing Dhoni to stick with Shikar.

    If Dhoni is expecting an allrounder from India of Kallis caliber than he should captain a side for which Kallis is playing.

    Ashwin has totally let down all the hopes which we had on him, if he is not performing well in 3rd ODI as well, then he should not play next 2 ODI, as either pitch is not assisting, not being used at right time or not bowling well, and Shikhar should be in spectators stand already.

    Ravindra Jadeja as all rounder pure joke. Rishi Dhawan and Gurukreet should replace Jadeja and Ashwin. Raina should come in for Dhawan.

    Rahane, Rohith, Kohli, Dhoni, Raina, Manish, Gurukreet, Rush I Dhawan, Shran, Yadav, Ishanth.

    This will create depth in both bowling and batting.

  •   Harshad K Trivedi on January 16, 2016, 16:35 GMT

    Hahaha...The Breeze was flowing in Circular motions ! That would be Cyclone, isn't it! Well you could have changed his end or maybe a spinner would have benefited from the Circular motion ! Don't they spin the ball, which is a circular motion ? It is time Dhoni stopped making any comments about any bowler and Rishi Dhavan! It was a bad selection to take him as a passenger, we had lots of options but the selectors have limited intelligence !

  • Souvick on January 16, 2016, 15:57 GMT

    Dhoni dude... please consider retirement. Please justify your place in the team first. You go on judging others (Rahane) when your own performance has been far below his. You tell about Rahane not being able to play the big shots or accelerate. What the hell have you done in the past one year? None of your big shots seem to come off. You should consider coming in before the slog overs so that we don't lose important runs in the slogs owing to your failure. Really sick watching a captain demoralising his own players. It spells the bell has tolled on Dhoni's career.

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