Austalia v India, 1st T20, Adelaide January 26, 2016

Dhoni pleased with allrounders stepping up

ESPNcricinfo staff
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'Allrounders give us stability' - Dhoni

MS Dhoni, India's limited-overs captain, has welcomed the return of batsmen who can also contribute with the ball although it may, as a tangential consequence, delay Ajinkya Rahane's comeback into the team after a hand injury.

On a pitch that slowed down, India looked in control for the first time on the tour, and it possibly came down to the fact that Dhoni had many bowling options up his sleeve. Besides the frontline bowlers, he tried debutant Hardik Pandya for three overs and Yuvraj Singh for one and even had the option of Suresh Raina had the need arose.

Rahane is a specialist batsman who does not bowl. When asked how difficult it would be for him to fit into the team combination, Dhoni said: "We will wait and watch once he gets fit. That will only increase the problem, but it is a good problem to have. Allrounders are important. If Hardik doesn't bowl me four overs in every game; even if he gives two overs or three overs, I can still use others.

"What I don't want is top five or top six batters, including the keeper, where you don't have a bowling option. If somebody goes for runs, you don't really know what to do. In this format, you will have bowlers going for runs. At that time, you want your part-time allrounders to come in and give you that one over because that one over can help.

"We will wait and watch how it goes. I think it's important to have players like Yuvraj Singh who can bowl and bat, Suresh Raina, who can bowl and bat. Because if you have too many one-dimensional players in your top order it becomes really difficult when someone has a bad day."

One of the "part-time allrounders" Dhoni is now looking at is Pandya, and his stronger suit - batting, primarly his ability to hit big from the get go - hasn't been seen in international cricket yet. He was on a hat-trick at one time, but it wasn't really the kind of debut that will end India's search for a seaming allrounder. Pandya bowled five wides in his first over, and his first wicket came off a delivery that would have been another wide had Chris Lynn not driven him straight to extra cover.

"When it comes to international cricket it is all about handling the pressure," Dhoni said. "Once you are given the ball, there is some pressure on you because it's your first game and you don't know what kind of bounce is there or what kind of pace is there. There would be some kind of pressure. After the first over I knew the second over would be better. I was happy with the second and third over. Still he [Pandya] will have to be more consistent with line and length. That will give me a lot of confidence to consistently play him as the third seamer when the need arises."

The two big factors to India's win, though, were two of the most consistent performers on the tour: Virat Kohli with the bat and Ravindra Jadeja with the ball. Kohli's almost risk-free innings of 90 off 55 gave India a target they could defend, and on a pitch that slowed down Jadeja gave Dhoni four overs for 21 runs and two wickets, including that of Steve Smith.

"In Adelaide, they are making a stand [named after] him," Dhoni joked referring to Kohli's red-hot form at this venue. "By the time he ends his career, quite a few Australian grounds will have his stand. Yes, he is batting really well. The important thing is when he is taking the risk of playing the big shot, he calculates it well. It is easy to play the big shot, everybody can play it, but it is how you calculate, and according to your strength take the risk. Then there is more chance of being successful.

"Also he is somebody who looks to score in front of the wicket. Of course, he is a good cutter and puller too but he looks to hit in front of the wicket. That gives you more chances of being successful. He is somebody who reads the game well. Right from the start whenever we have an interaction he is always looking to improve as a cricketer. If you have that kind of curiosity it helps you become a better cricketer. It is good when youngsters grab their chance, I think Virat did really well when he got a chance to bat up the order. It makes the work easy for everyone."

Jadeja has the same calming influence to his captain. "Whenever there is a bit of help he is somebody who bowls generally," Dhoni said. "You know his spectrum of performance is generally narrow. The difference between his good and bad performance is little, which makes it slightly easy for us and gives us that stability."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • cricpanther on January 28, 2016, 6:38 GMT

    This is what MSD was looking from Day 1 at Aus odi series!! Too late response of indian players not only hurting Great MSD but also all Indian fans and costing important odi series lost too. If there are more all rounders, more reliable youngsters like Bumrah, MSD's captain life is much easier than now, which he is facing, every match need to run out of all plans due to worst indian team players not at all executing the plan which MSD is expecting. This smart indian players doing all good performances in net practice and selectors think this can be good but real match situation, pressure or intentional bad performance making MSD and Team India down. Now in t20, because of new players intake (including old exp players) bad group of team members can not do more bad. This is the force of young and honesty, which was possessed long time back by Great Sachin. Even though, that time so much bad activity happening Sachin and Saurav handled those single handed for the country!! Hats off!

  • viraj09 on January 27, 2016, 18:22 GMT

    Currently there are only 3 players in India who can feature in all 3 formats and they are Ashwin, Kohli and Rahane! People are just going by Rahane's overall stats which were below par sometime back (in reference to ODIs), but now he has become consistent in that format too! All those doubting his abilities should check his recent performances against SA n Aus! In last 9 ODIs, he only failed once against Aus that too when he was badly injured! Open your eyes haters and admire the talent of this gifted player

  • Oldtimer01 on January 27, 2016, 15:30 GMT

    @abkik Sarkar - do you remember the last ODI of the recent India-Saf series? Do you remember Rahane's innings there and the strike rate? What you are saying is that you are so anti-rahane that you prefer a new uncapped player to a proven consistent player who has shown that he can play attacking innings.

  • Oldtimer01 on January 27, 2016, 15:26 GMT

    @Corridor of certainty - so pandey plays well in one match and cements the no 4 slot ? And a player like rahane who has ben consistently the best batsmen over the last few years is not good enough for the ODI team? Have you hear of the proverb 'one swallow does not a summer make'? Rahane has made the no 4 spot his own, so we will need to wait for others to prove themselves over a few matches before making comparisons. And remember we are not always going to play on flat pitches, so we need good and reliable players who can deliver in all conditions and against quality attacks. Otherwise you will have a team full of players like shikhar dhawan.

  • Corridor-of-Certainty on January 27, 2016, 14:48 GMT

    Rahane shouldn't be in the ODI squad either. Manish Pandey has earned that number 4 position. Rahane can be a reserve opener at best. For the middle order we already have Rayudu, Jadhav, Nair, Iyer, apart from Pandey. So no need of Rahane in the middle order.

  • viraj09 on January 27, 2016, 14:28 GMT

    All those pointing fingers at Rahane, just check his IPL stats, 400 runs in all previous years while opening with healthy strike rate, what has dhawan done to justify his place? If Pandya n bumrah n Nehra are selected on IPL performances then why ignore Rahane in this regard? Sheer double standards!

  • Avik Sarkar on January 27, 2016, 12:43 GMT

    If Dhawan out i want S.Iyer in....not slow Rahane who can not clear the ground easily....in t 20 you need player who can hit sixes at will,Rahane is not one of them....

  • ManjunathaHk on January 27, 2016, 9:59 GMT

    I'm a big fan of Rahane but we have to accept the fact that he is a classy player and not the t20 player. Making him play in the t20 will only put pressure on his classy style of batting. He will be forced to take more risk and play big shot which doesn't suit him. This can only deteriote his batting in tests and ODI form. He is a player best suited for test and ODI. Rahane should concentrate on tests and ODI than in t20. He is a very much improving over an year with clean hittings and orthodox batting. He should be left to continue doing so by not putting t20 big hitting pressure on him.

  • Oldtimer01 on January 27, 2016, 9:10 GMT

    @alexk400 - what do you mean by gurkirat and rishi dhawan not getting a chance because they are not from mumbai? Are you aware that rahane, a mumbai player, was not given a chance for almost 2 years? Or that Rahane has been forced up and down the order (inspite of performing well) simply to accommodate dhoni's favourites? Or look at kedar jadhav - another mumbai player, a big hitter and a great no 5 or 6 - who has a excellent record in domestic cricket and has played very well in the few international matches he played but has been dropped even after doing well, without any reason. Lastly, players like shikhar dhawan, jadeja and rohit have received so many chances simply because they had dhoni's support. Neither shikhar dhawan/ jadeja nor dhoni are from mumbai, so why do you only mention rohit and drag in the mumbai connection?

  • Oldtimer01 on January 27, 2016, 9:03 GMT

    @2005 Indian wins - you are missing the point. The criticism levelled at dhoni is because he selectively and unfairly criticises players. He publicly criticises rahane (instead of one-to-one feedback in private, which is what a true leader would do) and when rahane proves dhoni wrong, there is no corresponding praise (or half hearted/ conditional praise at best). As aginst this, dhoni has never criticised dhawan inspite of repeated failures (or even after the slow selfish innings with 54 dot balls in the 3rd ODI. Dhoni here criticised the bowlers but not a word on dhawan). Likewise, dhoni never criticises jadeja. These are signs of a captain playing favourites and openly displaying his bias against certain players, which is exposed only now because dhoni's personal batting form is no longer good enough to cover for the failure of his biased selection. The selection committe stepping in to ensure that the best and most deserving players are selected in the teams best interests.

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