June 25, 2013

Dhoni's feel for cricket

India's captain has an instinctive sense of the rhythm of the game; he hears its heartbeat acutely
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MS Dhoni possesses a rare and charming combination of intuition, judgement and experience © Getty Images

As the rain came down at Edgbaston, many blurry TV hours were filled with punditry, most of it lost on the airwaves to heaven. Somewhere along the way though, someone, and I don't recall who, said something like this: "At heart, MS Dhoni is a gambler… "

If that's so, he's the man you want to be standing next to at the roulette wheel; the chips are piling up, and there's nothing his India have not won.

But is he? As anyone closely affiliated with actual professional gambling (not spot-fixing or bookmaking, but making a living from betting legally) will tell you, done properly, it is for the most part a boring and pragmatic assessment of odds and value. There are very few coups de theatre to be had.

What Dhoni did in offering Ishant Sharma the 18th over of England's innings with Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara at the crease and 28 runs required from 18 deliveries, was something altogether more instinctive, a rare and charming combination of intuition, judgement and experience that carried with it inherent risk. Here was the match, in the hands of the team's most profligate bowler.

Ishant, still coltish at 24 and with a career that often seems to be gripped by slow but inevitable entropy, was nervous - which he had the grace to admit afterwards. Morgan and Bopara had timed their charge, and both had begun to clear the boundary. Ishant began with a slow, short ball, a dot. Having got a look at him, Morgan dispatched the next over backward square leg.

Spooked now, not quite in rhythm around the wicket, Ishant bowled consecutive wides. He galloped in again, this time cutting his fingers across the ball for more control and slowing it down enough for Morgan to spoon him up wristily to Ashwin on the edge of the circle, a shot miscued to the degree that the batsmen had time to cross as it fell. Then a faster, shorter one on the line of the stumps that Bopara flat-batted straight to Ashwin, who had materialised as if by magic in the right place once more.

There was an element of Napoleon's dictum on luck about Dhoni's decision, and there is no doubt that had things gone the other way, he would have come under heavy fire

The game that was England's mid-way through the over was India's by the end, and hearteningly for all of us who love a trier, it was Ishant Sharma's, too. Dhoni applied his coup de grace, the mugging of England completed by the estimable partnership of Jadeja and Ashwin.

There was an element of Napoleon's dictum on luck about Dhoni's decision, and there is no doubt that had things gone the other way, he would have come under heavy fire. But one of his great qualities is a calm fearlessness that he has shown so often. The underlying logic behind using Ishant was sound; Dhoni knew that England would take the batting Powerplay in the last two overs, and he wanted his spinners for them. But his decision was proactively to bowl Ishant rather than Umesh Yadav or Bhuvneshwar Kumar, and that was at the heart of India's win.

It would be fascinating to hear Dhoni talk about it in depth, to know exactly where it came from. He has played so much cricket now, and so much of it under tremendous pressure, he has a deep feeling for the rhythm of the game; he hears its heartbeat acutely. It informs his subconscious, it leads what we might call intuition or instinct, but in reality it is something more weighty and useful. Let's call it intellect.

England have a great sense of order to their cricket, but they, and Alastair Cook, don't quite have what Dhoni has. It makes an eloquent argument for harmonising the calendar and allowing the players to go to the IPL and suchlike, to get game time in front of huge crowds when there is something on the line and they can absorb the kind of rhythm that Dhoni runs to. At heart he is a gambler, but beyond that, at heart he is a cricketer, in every sense of the word.

Jon Hotten blogs here and tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • makingsillypoints on June 27, 2013, 5:39 GMT

    The author has articulately expressed something I've long felt.

    On a whimsical, reflective note, I'd like to draw a parallel with a figure in Formula 1, another sport I follow. MS Dhoni seems to me strikingly reminiscent not of any driver, but of Ross Brawn.

    Both have built teams, and been the keystone to their teams' success. Both are somewhat grizzly figures, combining vast experience with displays of genius. Both are unflappable - and perhaps even more inspired - under pressure. Both are unafraid to make calls that fans slam in the moment but praise with hindsight. The intellect-instinct-intuition that the author mentions flows stronger in each of these men than in anybody else in their respective sports. Part of each one's success, incidentally, has come from managing superstars effectively. In the sporting world (barring, just possibly, Sir Alex F and Doc Rivers), Dhoni and Brawn are the finest examples in recent times of apparent gamblers who somehow bend the odds with genius.

  • Mittaraghava on June 25, 2013, 17:27 GMT

    The author has aptly said."Call it intution or instinct or call it intellect" about Dhoni's decisions.I was also equally surprised when Ishant was given th 18th over to bowl.The previous over he was smacked for about 12 runs .The 1st ball is a dot and second ball hit for 6 by Morgan followed by 2 wides.I thought another costly over is in the offing and the match is lost for India .Next 2 balls 2 wickets and match turned topsy turvy.(Once before in an od played in the recent past,Dhoni give the ball to Ishanth in the 18th over after being hit for 16 runs in his previous over and Ishanth stood to the challenge and gave just3 runs in that over),May be Dhoni brought confidence to Ishant ,to remind him that he is the main strike bowler and he has to peroform and face the challenge.The last 2 overs of the match Dhoni has plenty of experience in IPL with Jadeja and Aswin ,who has won many games by bowling the death over.Dhoni follows the pulse of the match,like no other captain.

  • PeterJerome on June 29, 2013, 14:31 GMT

    P Mutalik & Goorha: Excellent comments describing MSD's tactics. The thing about Dhoni, is his cool headedness, through which he sorts out his opponents by getting into their shoes and does things that can unsettle an otherwise calm mind. Both Morgan & Bopara were calm at that moment and exuded confidence in the way they went about the chase. But then, they still had that urge to get over the line, and there was no way a req. runrate of 8.33 would bother them at all. Dhoni figured it out. As intelligent batsman of their stature they would have definitely foreseen and planned for the 2 overs of JR & RA and the threat of it. Then suddenly the cunning Dhoni dangles a mango in front of their eyes... And then went for a mango in trade for the CT. This is no luck mate. This Dhoni the Psychologist at work. Amazing brain.

  • on June 28, 2013, 15:14 GMT

    Pradeep Mutalik has hit it squarely on the nail. The gambit simply was to do the least expected thing for (a) it lulls the opposition into believing that an idiotic decision has been taken, which was confirmed by the mindset Morgan got into and further reinforcing that by hitting that six. And (b) it placed a great responsibility on Ishant Sharma who is fully capable of bowling winners amid howlers. "Lucky" is a word used by people who find it difficult to understand the phenomenon.

  • TRAM on June 28, 2013, 2:23 GMT

    Very well written article and beatiful & excellent persepectives from many readers. 18th over, the ALWAYS-EXPENSIVE, BRANDED UNLUCKY and poor-death-bowler ISharma with the ball, taking 2 consecutive wkts, due to HORRIBLE shots from well settled batsmen? (remember first wkt they crossed over so fast!). You call those wickets Dhoni's tactics?? Absolutely not. It is nothing but pure un-adulterated LUCK. So let us look at just what Dhoni could have thought at that moment at the end of 17th over. I cant come out with any logic on why Isharma, except if Dhoni wanted to use that as the final nail in ISharma's career-ending coffin. Until Dhoni comes out and says the logic behind why he brought ISharma and not BKumar or UYadav I will keep calling him luncky, lucky and lucky.

  • on June 27, 2013, 3:25 GMT

    These are bold decisions. We have to remember that they will not work everytime. We should not go for MSD's head everytime they dont work. If they work more times than they don't, MSD has done a good job.

  • ProdigyA on June 26, 2013, 19:43 GMT

    I think Im seeing a totally different Dhoni since the Nagpur test against England last year. Having lost 8 tests in row, loosing the series against England in India was the biggest blow. Like many, I too though he should be dropped from the Test team, let alone captaincy. In that test match, for the first time, I saw Dhoni being more proactive and more aggresive, may be because he has the team that he wants.

  • on June 26, 2013, 18:20 GMT

    @shumbu ...I am not saying dhoni is lucky every time he goes into the ground. what i m saying is whenever at a crunch time he takes a terrible decision and gets away with it. That won't happen every time without luck. For example:

    1. Bowling joginder sharma at the T20 finals. With basic cricket knowledge u still wont believe that.

    2. Chamions trophy finals with Umesh & buvanesh having overs to bowl Ishant still gets a bowl.

    What would have happened if he didnt got any wicket at the over. At the presentation dhoni would have said that after all its just another game for us. It happens some times to everybody bla bla bla....

  • Just_saying87 on June 26, 2013, 18:15 GMT

    No doubt Dhoni is the best captain of modern era. But giving sharma 18th over of the inning, provided he still had option of using yadav or kumar and considering ishant sharma went for 16 in his last over, dont know how thoughtful was that. Now when you have 3 overs with 25 some runs to play with, you will use your best bowler to bowl 18th or 19th, according to me ashwin and jadeja. If they ball tight overs and england end up needing 15 odd runs in last over, then may be its undersatnable to give bowl to whoever you want. (Whoever mean I still say yadav or kumar, not ishant). Dhoni better should explain what made him take that decision.

  • Pradeep_Mutalik on June 26, 2013, 17:17 GMT

    Great article, There is a game theoretic rationale for what Dhoni did instintinctively. It can be called the 'girl-with-a-curl gambit' after the young miss who was famously either very very good, or horrid. When you face almost a definite loss, it makes sense to make a move with higher variance than any other. Such a move will likely result in a more horrid loss, but more importantly, will increase the likelihood of a win from say, 1% to 5% - a very, very good improvement. If the outcome turns out to be horrid, who cares? A loss is a loss. Bringing in Ishant for the 18th over was precisely such a guy-with-unruly-curls gambit. Why Ishant and not Yadav or Kumar? Precisely because they are more consistent bowlers. Ishant with his variability and bounce had a higher chance of eliciting a mistake - as happened not once but twice. The other two bowlers, even had they struck once, would have elicited more conservative play - and England would probably have trickled over the line.

  • makingsillypoints on June 27, 2013, 5:39 GMT

    The author has articulately expressed something I've long felt.

    On a whimsical, reflective note, I'd like to draw a parallel with a figure in Formula 1, another sport I follow. MS Dhoni seems to me strikingly reminiscent not of any driver, but of Ross Brawn.

    Both have built teams, and been the keystone to their teams' success. Both are somewhat grizzly figures, combining vast experience with displays of genius. Both are unflappable - and perhaps even more inspired - under pressure. Both are unafraid to make calls that fans slam in the moment but praise with hindsight. The intellect-instinct-intuition that the author mentions flows stronger in each of these men than in anybody else in their respective sports. Part of each one's success, incidentally, has come from managing superstars effectively. In the sporting world (barring, just possibly, Sir Alex F and Doc Rivers), Dhoni and Brawn are the finest examples in recent times of apparent gamblers who somehow bend the odds with genius.

  • Mittaraghava on June 25, 2013, 17:27 GMT

    The author has aptly said."Call it intution or instinct or call it intellect" about Dhoni's decisions.I was also equally surprised when Ishant was given th 18th over to bowl.The previous over he was smacked for about 12 runs .The 1st ball is a dot and second ball hit for 6 by Morgan followed by 2 wides.I thought another costly over is in the offing and the match is lost for India .Next 2 balls 2 wickets and match turned topsy turvy.(Once before in an od played in the recent past,Dhoni give the ball to Ishanth in the 18th over after being hit for 16 runs in his previous over and Ishanth stood to the challenge and gave just3 runs in that over),May be Dhoni brought confidence to Ishant ,to remind him that he is the main strike bowler and he has to peroform and face the challenge.The last 2 overs of the match Dhoni has plenty of experience in IPL with Jadeja and Aswin ,who has won many games by bowling the death over.Dhoni follows the pulse of the match,like no other captain.

  • PeterJerome on June 29, 2013, 14:31 GMT

    P Mutalik & Goorha: Excellent comments describing MSD's tactics. The thing about Dhoni, is his cool headedness, through which he sorts out his opponents by getting into their shoes and does things that can unsettle an otherwise calm mind. Both Morgan & Bopara were calm at that moment and exuded confidence in the way they went about the chase. But then, they still had that urge to get over the line, and there was no way a req. runrate of 8.33 would bother them at all. Dhoni figured it out. As intelligent batsman of their stature they would have definitely foreseen and planned for the 2 overs of JR & RA and the threat of it. Then suddenly the cunning Dhoni dangles a mango in front of their eyes... And then went for a mango in trade for the CT. This is no luck mate. This Dhoni the Psychologist at work. Amazing brain.

  • on June 28, 2013, 15:14 GMT

    Pradeep Mutalik has hit it squarely on the nail. The gambit simply was to do the least expected thing for (a) it lulls the opposition into believing that an idiotic decision has been taken, which was confirmed by the mindset Morgan got into and further reinforcing that by hitting that six. And (b) it placed a great responsibility on Ishant Sharma who is fully capable of bowling winners amid howlers. "Lucky" is a word used by people who find it difficult to understand the phenomenon.

  • TRAM on June 28, 2013, 2:23 GMT

    Very well written article and beatiful & excellent persepectives from many readers. 18th over, the ALWAYS-EXPENSIVE, BRANDED UNLUCKY and poor-death-bowler ISharma with the ball, taking 2 consecutive wkts, due to HORRIBLE shots from well settled batsmen? (remember first wkt they crossed over so fast!). You call those wickets Dhoni's tactics?? Absolutely not. It is nothing but pure un-adulterated LUCK. So let us look at just what Dhoni could have thought at that moment at the end of 17th over. I cant come out with any logic on why Isharma, except if Dhoni wanted to use that as the final nail in ISharma's career-ending coffin. Until Dhoni comes out and says the logic behind why he brought ISharma and not BKumar or UYadav I will keep calling him luncky, lucky and lucky.

  • on June 27, 2013, 3:25 GMT

    These are bold decisions. We have to remember that they will not work everytime. We should not go for MSD's head everytime they dont work. If they work more times than they don't, MSD has done a good job.

  • ProdigyA on June 26, 2013, 19:43 GMT

    I think Im seeing a totally different Dhoni since the Nagpur test against England last year. Having lost 8 tests in row, loosing the series against England in India was the biggest blow. Like many, I too though he should be dropped from the Test team, let alone captaincy. In that test match, for the first time, I saw Dhoni being more proactive and more aggresive, may be because he has the team that he wants.

  • on June 26, 2013, 18:20 GMT

    @shumbu ...I am not saying dhoni is lucky every time he goes into the ground. what i m saying is whenever at a crunch time he takes a terrible decision and gets away with it. That won't happen every time without luck. For example:

    1. Bowling joginder sharma at the T20 finals. With basic cricket knowledge u still wont believe that.

    2. Chamions trophy finals with Umesh & buvanesh having overs to bowl Ishant still gets a bowl.

    What would have happened if he didnt got any wicket at the over. At the presentation dhoni would have said that after all its just another game for us. It happens some times to everybody bla bla bla....

  • Just_saying87 on June 26, 2013, 18:15 GMT

    No doubt Dhoni is the best captain of modern era. But giving sharma 18th over of the inning, provided he still had option of using yadav or kumar and considering ishant sharma went for 16 in his last over, dont know how thoughtful was that. Now when you have 3 overs with 25 some runs to play with, you will use your best bowler to bowl 18th or 19th, according to me ashwin and jadeja. If they ball tight overs and england end up needing 15 odd runs in last over, then may be its undersatnable to give bowl to whoever you want. (Whoever mean I still say yadav or kumar, not ishant). Dhoni better should explain what made him take that decision.

  • Pradeep_Mutalik on June 26, 2013, 17:17 GMT

    Great article, There is a game theoretic rationale for what Dhoni did instintinctively. It can be called the 'girl-with-a-curl gambit' after the young miss who was famously either very very good, or horrid. When you face almost a definite loss, it makes sense to make a move with higher variance than any other. Such a move will likely result in a more horrid loss, but more importantly, will increase the likelihood of a win from say, 1% to 5% - a very, very good improvement. If the outcome turns out to be horrid, who cares? A loss is a loss. Bringing in Ishant for the 18th over was precisely such a guy-with-unruly-curls gambit. Why Ishant and not Yadav or Kumar? Precisely because they are more consistent bowlers. Ishant with his variability and bounce had a higher chance of eliciting a mistake - as happened not once but twice. The other two bowlers, even had they struck once, would have elicited more conservative play - and England would probably have trickled over the line.

  • on June 26, 2013, 15:03 GMT

    I think the legendary Imran Khan comes close to MSD among great Captains. But even he won only one world cup. Ponting won world cups, but he had awesome teams full of greats. MSD has won world cups with youngsters, which none have done.

  • Cruzan on June 26, 2013, 14:26 GMT

    After all those good things said about him, he is still modest and humble and yet gutsy. I think he can make a good PM for any South Asian Country.

  • inswing on June 26, 2013, 14:21 GMT

    Dhoni is simply an average captain. He is not "lucky". His teams win when a few players are in form, and loses when they are not. Dhoni has not shown any special insight or done anything unusual ever and is generally a negative and defensive captain. Remember that he was also the captain in 0-4 loss to England followed by 0-4 loss to Aus. What happened to all his magic then? Nothing, it is just that player's didn't perform and they didn't drop anyone. People mysteriously assign all credit for all of India's wins to Dhoni, which is silly. Dhawan in the form of his life, and Jadeja and Ashwin able to bowl well on slowish turing wickets in low scoring games. That's the only reason for India's win. As a player, Dhoni is a outstanding ODI and T20 player and so-so Test player.

  • thinkgood on June 26, 2013, 13:34 GMT

    I still remember - barely few weeks ago Dhoni was hounded by India Media for his alleged conflict of interests. Now he is a hero ! I can understand this from schizoprenic, sychopantic and sensation mongering Indian Media . What I dont understand however is the manner in which Dhoni wetn about his job calmly and did it for his country and board - Hats off !

  • on June 26, 2013, 12:24 GMT

    he is clearly the best cricket captai i the world right now .

  • EternalRaja on June 26, 2013, 11:07 GMT

    There is one more interesting fact is that Ishant Sharma was given 18th over from the other end of the bowling side which is an opposite end from what he has bowled all his previous overs.

  • Sachin_Ramesh_Bradman on June 26, 2013, 10:48 GMT

    I think it is time to acknowledge Dhoni as the greatest tactician of this decade, if not all time. Captaining in ODIs/t-20s is the real deal where you dont have all day and a millenium to make your decisions like in tests.

    Joginder Sharma in 2007 world t-20 final, Dhoni's move up the order in 2011 WC final and now this super call with Ishanth in 2013 champions trophy final.

    It is definitely much more than luck and let us face it, Dhoni has led india to no.1 ranking in both tests and ODIs, so it is not exactly like these are one-off successes he has had.

    Anyone who calls MSD "lucky" has absolutely no idea how professional sports and life work.

    To me MSD is the greatest captain of all time. Ahead of taylor, fleming, ranatunga, clive lloyd and brearley.

  • on June 26, 2013, 8:51 GMT

    I am still scratching my head, how did England lose this game? I think this is the best cricket game I have seen. But how did England lose it? 20 runs, 16 balls, 6 wickets in hand. I mean I thought it was game over. What a game!

  • McMurdo on June 26, 2013, 8:46 GMT

    We might all write big books on Captaincy etc, but cometh the time, it is the instinct that matters. Dhoni is a born captain. Period.

  • on June 26, 2013, 7:47 GMT

    Excellent analysis and nicely put. Waiting to read more from you, Jon.

  • Naresh28 on June 26, 2013, 7:30 GMT

    NICE ARTICLE BY OUTSIDER on Dhoni. @auntyChrist we Indian fans also miss the good articles by Peter Roebuck gave us. Lets remind people that Dhoni has brought us enough titles and cups - he was endorsed by people like Dravid, Kumble, Sachin etc. His heartbeat is with the game and he gets added advantage in that being a wicketkeeper he can keep tabs on the game quite well. All in all its worked very well for India whether its smartness or luck.

  • Christy1268 on June 26, 2013, 7:25 GMT

    @ Vasu Devan - Thanks for your "intellectual analysis". Keep saying "he is lucky" till your last breath as nothing is going to change your or similar other people's mindset !!

  • on June 26, 2013, 7:19 GMT

    I didnt really know what to make out of it when Dhoni handed the ball again to Ishant. I was literally pulling my hair apart and hurling choicest of abuses at Ishant (mind you, he had been hit around the park in all his previous 3 overs). I was looking for all possible logics that might have convinced Dhoni to rely on Ishant rather than Umesh Yadav who gave away only 10 runs in his 2 overs. I was kind of sure that he is bound to fail. And he almost did but eventually responded back with 2 wickets. I was in loss for words. I really made me think hard about it. Was it just a slice of luck for generally luckless Sharma or a response by Ishant for the faith reposed in him by Dhoni? It may have been former but certainly has been a real life lesson of sorts as what can be achieved by individuals if we can keep faith in them specially when things are not going their way. I have been an ardent fan of Dhoni, not becoz he has won so many silverwares for India but for his calmness. Love him.

  • Shumbu on June 26, 2013, 7:03 GMT

    @Vasu Devan; Very sad to read comments from people like you claiming Dhoni is lucky every time. Okay, people might get lucky once, twice or thrice... but not every time. Dhoni looks lucky because of his smartness. He is not a stylish classic batsman like Sachin, Drawid, VVS or Kohli, but he does know how to use his talent effectively (99.9%). He reads the game well and pace the innings according to the situations. This makes him a match winner and great ODI batsman. He does well behind the stumps with his great fitness to set standards for the young fielders. And as captain, he is capable of understanding the strength and weakness of his players, opposition, match conditions etc to takes right decisions at the right time. As he does things differently, people claim he is lucky when he gets results. But as long as he is bringing success to Indian team, why don't we celebrate that talented 'luck' in him...cheers!

  • Pathiyal on June 26, 2013, 5:01 GMT

    May be his policy is to keep things simple, dont fear losing and just enjoy your game. it is not always easy to maintain that frame of mind. it is not that MS is a legend or someone from the heavens. but many of so called legends are not able to have MS Dhoni's attitude. remember he has to take care of his part of the play as well as that of others, and boss, it seems he takes all in his stride.

  • shiv_mishra on June 26, 2013, 4:57 GMT

    I have never waited for presentation ceremony so impatiently, anticipating this question from Naseer, and frankly very poor of him not to ask this question.

    Taking a guess, i think Dhoni tried to capitalize fear of English batsment towards quality spin. Probably they wanted to be very near to winning total before spin came in play. And who to hit without thinking than Ishant. Dhoni could have brought in one of Ashwin or Jadega, however Morgan would not have tried lofted shot with a ball equally good as Ishant's. But still we were robbed of extraordinary insight in Dhoni's mind by Mr. Hussain. And for God's sake, why was Naseer there? He is a very bad commentator and was not up to task.

  • tickcric on June 26, 2013, 4:44 GMT

    He keeps it simple. He uses his judgement, instinct, common sense just like all of us do. It's just that he is way better at it than most of us. And very importantly Dhoni is courageous.

  • couchpundit on June 25, 2013, 23:07 GMT

    @Vasu Devan... is sachin lucky or smart or talented? Going by your yard stick. sachin is lucky right?

    I say Dhoni is impeccable decision maker and brought in Ishant purely for percentage of ball he naturally bowls in short of good length region.

  • bharath74 on June 25, 2013, 22:13 GMT

    After watching Ishant being dispatched for six, i stopped watching. After an hr i just wanted to see the final score board, i was surprised to see India winning the match, Unbelievable stuff, Dhoni has his own plans and it is hard to understand them.

  • on June 25, 2013, 18:31 GMT

    Very Funny.. How people still think he is smart rather than lucky. Before the CT finals some people wont accept that he is a very lucky guy. And the final is there for every one to see how lucky dhoni is. Those people still wont accept that may have their mind working overtime to justify dhoni's decision every time he gets lucky.

  • on June 25, 2013, 18:26 GMT

    the one who called Dhoni a gambler was Sourav Ganguly in a televised interview. If I am not grossly mistaken, his exact words were "Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a bit of a gambler at heart". And I am reminded of what the gret Richie Benaud said about captaincy, about it being 90% luck and 10% ability, but of that 10% being the critical part...

  • AuntyChrist on June 25, 2013, 17:31 GMT

    Such eloquence remind me of the late Peter Roebuck. I would miss his unmatched perspective during the Ashes

  • Temuzin on June 25, 2013, 17:03 GMT

    One of the nicest article I have read in a long long time. It was kind of a poetic tribute to Dhoni the genius. Keep writing Mr. Hotten.

  • ladycricfan on June 25, 2013, 16:41 GMT

    Not only you Jon, every Indian paper and television is analysing Dhoni's captaincy skills. how does he do it? His success rate as captain in Tests, ODI and T20I is more than 50%. Gamblers lose more than they win. Dhoni has won 50-50 WC, T20 WC, CT, took team india to No 1 ranking in Test and ODI. Won 2 IPL trophys.Won Champions league. . Dhoni's intelligence is out of the world. We( people like me) don't have the intelligence to analyse Dhoni's intelligence.

  • Un_Citoyen_Indien on June 25, 2013, 16:18 GMT

    Well written Mr. Hotten, Dhoni truly is a master of the game.

  • NP_NY on June 25, 2013, 16:10 GMT

    Excellent article about an excellent cricketer and captain. Only Dhoni knows what is going on in his head when he makes certain decisions, but as long as he succeeds (which he most often does) no one will complain.

  • Cricket_Fan_And_Analyst on June 25, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    Beautifully written . I believe Dhoni went for Ishant because of the following reasons :

    1. He didn't want Ishant to bowl the last or penultimate over. He probably knows Ishant can become nervous.

    2. Ishant can bowl to a set field , Umesh can't do that. He bowled too many leg stumpish delivery in the beginning when the field set was set for him to bowl outside off. He also didn't have enough confidence on Bhubaneswar.

    3. If for some reason ball didn't turn in the penultimate over , he probably wanted Umesh to finish.

    Dhoni didn't get all the grey hair for nothing. He is a master thinker and analyzer.

  • IndCricFan2013 on June 25, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    Honestly, the decision to bowl Ishant was an easy one. With Aswin and Jadeja to bowl last 2, Buvi bowls, line and length effective at the start, not at the end, Yadav is going for runs through out the series, Ishant had the potential, not to bowl at length. It was a risk for sure, but in my opinion, the option between Yadav and Ishant, Ishant was preferred.

  • on June 25, 2013, 15:41 GMT

    How very true.Some say its pure luck but nothing else.What they don't seem to understand is that the man has calm mind under pressure and we all know how uncluttered mind works. there might be some luck involved too but to say that everything was/is due to luck is not acceptable. Surely there must be some tactical thinking behind giving Ishant 18th over of the match and we don't know what it is so we call it luck. Unless Dhoni himself says what was the thinking behind that move we will never know. luck may work once or twice but to say everything he won is based on luck can't be true. Thanks for the column though.

  • on June 25, 2013, 15:41 GMT

    How very true.Some say its pure luck but nothing else.What they don't seem to understand is that the man has calm mind under pressure and we all know how uncluttered mind works. there might be some luck involved too but to say that everything was/is due to luck is not acceptable. Surely there must be some tactical thinking behind giving Ishant 18th over of the match and we don't know what it is so we call it luck. Unless Dhoni himself says what was the thinking behind that move we will never know. luck may work once or twice but to say everything he won is based on luck can't be true. Thanks for the column though.

  • IndCricFan2013 on June 25, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    Honestly, the decision to bowl Ishant was an easy one. With Aswin and Jadeja to bowl last 2, Buvi bowls, line and length effective at the start, not at the end, Yadav is going for runs through out the series, Ishant had the potential, not to bowl at length. It was a risk for sure, but in my opinion, the option between Yadav and Ishant, Ishant was preferred.

  • Cricket_Fan_And_Analyst on June 25, 2013, 16:01 GMT

    Beautifully written . I believe Dhoni went for Ishant because of the following reasons :

    1. He didn't want Ishant to bowl the last or penultimate over. He probably knows Ishant can become nervous.

    2. Ishant can bowl to a set field , Umesh can't do that. He bowled too many leg stumpish delivery in the beginning when the field set was set for him to bowl outside off. He also didn't have enough confidence on Bhubaneswar.

    3. If for some reason ball didn't turn in the penultimate over , he probably wanted Umesh to finish.

    Dhoni didn't get all the grey hair for nothing. He is a master thinker and analyzer.

  • NP_NY on June 25, 2013, 16:10 GMT

    Excellent article about an excellent cricketer and captain. Only Dhoni knows what is going on in his head when he makes certain decisions, but as long as he succeeds (which he most often does) no one will complain.

  • Un_Citoyen_Indien on June 25, 2013, 16:18 GMT

    Well written Mr. Hotten, Dhoni truly is a master of the game.

  • ladycricfan on June 25, 2013, 16:41 GMT

    Not only you Jon, every Indian paper and television is analysing Dhoni's captaincy skills. how does he do it? His success rate as captain in Tests, ODI and T20I is more than 50%. Gamblers lose more than they win. Dhoni has won 50-50 WC, T20 WC, CT, took team india to No 1 ranking in Test and ODI. Won 2 IPL trophys.Won Champions league. . Dhoni's intelligence is out of the world. We( people like me) don't have the intelligence to analyse Dhoni's intelligence.

  • Temuzin on June 25, 2013, 17:03 GMT

    One of the nicest article I have read in a long long time. It was kind of a poetic tribute to Dhoni the genius. Keep writing Mr. Hotten.

  • AuntyChrist on June 25, 2013, 17:31 GMT

    Such eloquence remind me of the late Peter Roebuck. I would miss his unmatched perspective during the Ashes

  • on June 25, 2013, 18:26 GMT

    the one who called Dhoni a gambler was Sourav Ganguly in a televised interview. If I am not grossly mistaken, his exact words were "Mahendra Singh Dhoni is a bit of a gambler at heart". And I am reminded of what the gret Richie Benaud said about captaincy, about it being 90% luck and 10% ability, but of that 10% being the critical part...

  • on June 25, 2013, 18:31 GMT

    Very Funny.. How people still think he is smart rather than lucky. Before the CT finals some people wont accept that he is a very lucky guy. And the final is there for every one to see how lucky dhoni is. Those people still wont accept that may have their mind working overtime to justify dhoni's decision every time he gets lucky.