England v India, 4th ODI, Edgbaston

Dhoni's evolved wicketkeeping

Plays of the day from the 4th ODI between England and India at Edgbaston

Sidharth Monga at Edgbaston

September 2, 2014

Comments: 31 | Text size: A | A
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Highlights: Raina dazzles in the field in the fourth ODI at Edgbaston


The reverse-sweep caused Joe Root's downfall, England v India, 4th ODI, Edgbaston, September 2, 2014
MS Dhoni seems to know exactly where the stumps are while wicketkeeping, even if they are behind him © Associated Press
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The field placement
It didn't take MS Dhoni long to realise this was not a quick pitch. As early as the first over, he had moved his second slip to a fine gully and placed him a little close too. Almost like a wide fourth slip standing a couple of paces up. In the fifth over, Alastair Cook got a shortish, widish delivery that he didn't cut whole-heartedly, playing just a chop, right into the ankles of Suresh Raina at that fine short gully.

The field placement, part II
Ever since the start of the South Africa tour last year, Dhoni has been obsessed with the leg slip and leg gully. It initially looked like a plan just for Graeme Smith's strong leg-side play, but the presence of that fielder almost everywhere for many other batsmen, and for both spinners and quicks, has been a source of frustration for observers. In this match, too, when Eoin Morgan and Joe Root got a partnership going and limited Dhoni's catching options, the India captain went for a leg slip as opposed to a regulation one. Finally, at long last, that leg slip got a catch. Morgan moved across to Ravindra Jadeja, got inside the line, closed the face, played it with the turn, and found that man Raina again. Dhoni stood and clapped nonchalantly.

The passage
While wicketkeeping has not evolved as much as batting and bowling with the advent of shorter formats of the game, one of the modern features is wicketkeepers standing in front of the stumps to save that half a second when they have to whip the bails off. On some occasions, though, you can come in the way of a direct hit. Not Dhoni. His knowledge of where he is with relation to the stumps is phenomenal. He showed it in this game. First he deflected a throw, from in front of the stumps, by opening the face of his glove to hit the stumps, but couldn't beat the batsman. Later in the innings, though, when Raina threw from short third man, Dhoni was in front of the stumps again. This time Dhoni knew the throw was accurate even though the stumps were behind him, and made way for the ball. Chris Woakes was caught short.

The reaction
In the third over of the day, Ajinkya Rahane made a diving save at cover. He saved four runs. As per the modern convention all the fielders, led by Raina, converged on Rahane to congratulate him in a manner mildly more animated than that of the 1970's bowlers after taking a wicket. The change this time was Dhoni, who ran nearly 30 yards from his wicketkeeping position to pat Rahane. Only fielding efforts manage to draw such emotion from Raina. Later in the day he was seen clearly cross when an outfielder was slow to come around and conceded a second.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (September 4, 2014, 0:47 GMT)

Classical and pop music are both music. The 100 meter sprint and the marathon are both legitimate running competitions. Grass court and hard court are both valid tests of tennis skills. Cycling has different formats, as do skating and swimming. Why do we need to detrmine what is the "true" test of cricket? Why can't players play what they want and the audience view what they want?

Why do we need to have elite pundits determine for the rest of us that classical music is true music and test cricket is true cricket?

Posted by Ranjit_sourav on (September 3, 2014, 20:26 GMT)

Come on Guys.. You all lauded when India won the second test in Lords and there were no criticism on Dhoni that day, When India lost the next 3, Again started putting salt in Dhoni's wounds. Is Dhoni the culprit for India's losses? From my opinion Dhoni stood out the best on his fielding positions right from the start of the test series unlike his defensive tactics which he always does in overseas tours. The batsmen flopped(so called India's future stars), Even If either Pujara or Kohli has clicked in right time, India would have atleast levelled the series. Stop Blaming one of India's greats, Laud this Guy who has done wonders for Team India in the past and doing it in the present and will do it in the future as well. He knows when to step out from test captaincy.

Posted by NP_NY on (September 3, 2014, 18:03 GMT)

@myStraightTalk: "Any cricket playing nation is judged by the skills in Test Matches and not by the shorter version of the game (ODI and T20)". We've all heard that before. A lot of modern fans would argue that scoring runs quickly is more skillful than just hanging about. So why don't we just let the fans judge the players whichever way they want instead of making one judging rule for everyone?

Posted by myStraightTalk on (September 3, 2014, 17:17 GMT)

Any cricket playing nation is judged by the skills in Test Matches and not by the shorter version of the game (ODI and T20). India need a good captain for Test. Both Dhoni and Fletcher has to go or resign from Test cricket. Dhoni want to shine in IPL and he use this ODI as a testing ground.

Posted by myStraightTalk on (September 3, 2014, 17:05 GMT)

Any cricket playing nation is judged by the skills in Test Matches and not by the shorter version of the game (ODI and T20). India need a good captain for Test. Both Dhoni and Fletcher has to go or resign from Test cricket. Dhoni want to shine in IPL and he use this ODI as a testing ground.

Posted by   on (September 3, 2014, 14:35 GMT)

Dhoni is an example of perfection.He is a legend.Nothing else needs to be said about him.

Posted by subramanianv on (September 3, 2014, 10:35 GMT)

@vicky_777 'Quote: no classic and elegance shots seen these days'. Have you not seen Murali Vijay and Rahane's innings it is as classic as it gets. Dhoni has his own technique and that works for him, only him. He has showed he can be successful with that in last 2 tests. But, never should he be considered a role model for the technique. It is what he had achieved, in the absence of a technique makes him more special, and that is what youngsters can learn from him.

Posted by subramanianv on (September 3, 2014, 10:21 GMT)

@ramli It is actually the other way around. There is some mental block for English players while playing ODIs. We Indians lost Overseas Tests and ODIs alike in the previous outings. The only difference this time is the meek English team.

Posted by   on (September 3, 2014, 9:59 GMT)

'Only fielding efforts manage to draw such emotion from Raina' That dude is all over the place all the time! You meant MSD?

Posted by espncricinfomobile on (September 3, 2014, 8:57 GMT)

Why not everyone keep their test analysis to the right forum. Please don't pull irrelevant strings just to give a opinion.

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