Ind v SA, Champions Trophy Group B, Cardiff

Dhoni disorientated but India far from lost

David Hopps

June 5, 2013

Comments: 28 | Text size: A | A

Umesh Yadav at a practice session in Hambantota ahead of the first ODI on Saturday, July 20, 2012
The emergence of Umesh Yadav is a big plus for India © AFP
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"It's good to be in England." MS Dhoni did not just utter it once, he uttered it twice. But, oh dear, Dhoni is in Wales, a land proud of its distinct national identity. For all Dhoni's charming smile, the good folk of Cardiff will be shuddering, there will be revolution in the valleys and in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerych-wyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch, the village with the longest name in Britain, they will be lost for words. There again, with a name like that, that is not altogether surprising.

Welsh passions have occasionally boiled over. Robert Croft, a former England spinner, much loved in the Land of Song, was such a proud Welshmen that he always insisted he was playing not for England but for the British Lions. Croft once got into a dressing room altercation with Mark Ramprakash when Ramprakash questioned his allegiance.

But India's captain need not worry himself unduly about his slip. Britain is routinely confused over whether it regards itself as Great Britain, the United Kingdom, or three of the UK's constituent parts: England, Scotland and Wales. That is even before you consider the European Union.

If Croft leads a party of protesting Welsh nationalists outside the ground they will be lost in the general melee because, by the time the match begins, Cardiff will not be in Wales, it will be part of Little India. India v South Africa, the opening match of the Champions Trophy is sold out, and flags of saffron, white and green will fill Bute Park. The bottomless passion for cricket among India and Pakistan fans will help to bring this tournament alive.

The ECB (that is actually the England and Wales Cricket Board, not that everybody remembers the silent W) expects 10 of the 15 matches to be full to capacity - 11 if India top the group and return to Cardiff for the semi-final, perhaps to meet England. If there is one thing Cardiff could rely on, it is if England reached the semi they would know they were in Wales.

But that is not all. Even those who know they are in Wales might be confused once they reach the stadium. For years, the locals have implacably referred to the ground as Sophia Gardens, in defiance of its renaming as the Swalec Stadium when the old ground was largely demolished in the search for international cricket. And we have to admit, ESPNcricinfo has often not known what to think.

Thanks to naming rights issues, for the Champions Trophy, and Champions Trophy alone, the ground has been rebranded as Cardiff Wales stadium, with poor old Sophia Gardens nowhere to be seen, except in the hearts of tens of thousands of county supporters.

It is astonishing what confusion can descend upon a cricket ground once the politicians and business executives get involved. They would be better advised to turn their attentions to why so many shops are boarded up in St Mary's Street.

 
 
"The way the game has progressed, most sides in the first 10 overs will be happy to get 40 runs and keep as many wickets intact as possible." MS Dhoni on how ODI cricket has changed
 

Dhoni, of course, proves that all this renaming malarkey is largely a waste of time unless somebody posts it on Facebook.

One matter Dhoni was definite about was that India will respond to the new rules - two new balls and more fielders in the circle - by fielding five specialist bowlers. "With the new rules it will be very difficult to play four bowlers and rely on the part-timers so definitely five bowlers will feature," he said. "It depends who you consider an allrounder and who you consider a bowler.

The team, at a best guess, will have Rohit Sharma and Shikar Dhawan as openers and Ravindra Jadeja and Ravi Ashwin batting at No 7 and No 8. The weather is set fair in Cardiff, at least for this week, so India should be able to field two spinners without suffering as a consequence.

This is the first tournament India have played outside their own country under the new regulations -- two new balls and an extra fielder in the circle. In India, the regulations keep the balls harder in the middle overs and make strokeplay more possible, but in England, more conducive to seam bowling in any event, the bowlers will have a distinct early advantage.

The emergence of Umesh Yadav, in particular, makes India well equipped to take advantage with the new ball when batting but there are questions over whether they can achieve early stability with the bat if the conditions are testing. Even so, they should begin overwhelming favourites against a South Africa one-day side which lacks the strut of its Test counterpart.

"The game, you can say, has changed a bit with the introduction of the new Laws," Dhoni said. "It means if you keep wickets in hand you can really exploit the conditions and make a lot of runs. Most of the teams will see a bit of a change in their approach and try to keep wickets intact in the first 10 when the new ball may do a bit.

"The fast bowlers have a really important role. If you see the way the game has progressed, and see the statistics, most of the sides in the first 10 overs will be happy to get 40 or 45 runs and keep as many wickets intact as possible. That loss of 20 runs in the first 10 you can make up later if you have wickets in hand. If a side gets going more often than not they will end up scoring more than 300. We need to adapt quickly."

Yadav, who collected five top-order wickets in as many overs against Australia, has been allowed a privilege not granted to other members of the Indian party. He married Tanya Wadhwa, a fashion designer, in Nagpur on May 29 and has been allowed to bring his wife on honeymoon. There will be a few envious looks from team-mates in the hotel reception.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (June 6, 2013, 10:52 GMT)

India should score over 400 in this match. I can smell the same result that India played Australia. Only team that can beat India is Pakistan as PAK's apparently have the best fast bowling attack. Hope PAK and IND get through from this group and also met in the final.

Posted by LALITHKURUWITA on (June 6, 2013, 10:43 GMT)

Looks like SA is already gone. Rohith is batting really well and a good reply to those who criticised him in comments here.

Posted by   on (June 6, 2013, 7:36 GMT)

Rohit Sharma at No. 1? Well, in England, he is a prospective 1st over prey for the opening bowler.. He has yet to prove his credentials if he wants to be considered as a permanent fixture in the batting line up. My playing XI for the match against SA today is : Murali Vijay, Shikar Dhawan, Viral Kohli, Suresh Raina, Dinesh Karthik, Dhoni, Jadeja / Irfan Pathan, Aswin, Ishant Sharma, Umesh Yadav and Bhuvanesh Kumar. If the team management choose to sit Vijay out, then better ask Dinesh Karthik to open the innings and take Rohit Sharma as a middle order batsman.

Posted by sriramamurthy on (June 6, 2013, 7:18 GMT)

Why all the people bashing rohit. He is a talented player&far more better than vijay for the opener slot. Irfan pathan instead of ravindra jadeja would be a good choice in english conditions.

Posted by Great_Vaas on (June 6, 2013, 6:36 GMT)

Rohit Sharma is utter waste to be in 15 men squad. IPL-6 was clear evidence that he plays ONLY if he offered a Captaincy? Sheer rubbish, this guy needs to be thrown. Dhoni should nurture Baba Aparajith in place of Rohit Sharma which will be handy in 2015 WC in Australia.

Posted by TheBigBoodha on (June 6, 2013, 4:43 GMT)

"The emergence of Umesh Yadav..." Say what? He has played 17 ODIs and averages 46 runs a wicket. How is that "emerged"? Oh, his last (practice) game was good. Is there anybody left in the cricket world who can look back further than one game? One practice game is not a trend. 17 ODI games doing poorly is. Wake me up when he is able to do it during genuine contests on a regular basis.

Posted by   on (June 6, 2013, 4:07 GMT)

Very good to see Indian's mulling with the idea of using Rohit Sharma to open in the 1st game itself along with Shikar . Vijay is definitely in patchy form and lucky to be in the squad. Without the likes of Smith, Kallis and Steyn, it should be a good outing for India

Posted by srikanths on (June 6, 2013, 3:50 GMT)

Give Rohit Sharma one last chance and dump him for good. We can close the chapter atleast for the next few years on him and declare that what could have been and what was.

Utter waste of talent. It just shows that in top class cricket , it is the small adjustments even if you appear ungainly , that matters and not grace and elegance which lends itself to good TV now and then

Posted by AnanthKumarM on (June 6, 2013, 2:44 GMT)

Rohit Sharma for M Vijay is probably a major mistake. Vijay got a poor decision in the Australia warm up game and should definitely play against South Africa. I think our IPL master -Rohit Sharma should warm the benches.

Posted by bobagorof on (June 6, 2013, 2:13 GMT)

The tactic of scoring 'slowly' and keeping wickets in hand in England is not new or due to the new ODI laws - I remember the 1999 World Cup in England, where the swinging ball nullified many of the big-hitting opening partnerships that were in fashion following Sri Lanka's World Cup win 3 years earlier. In that tournament, the middle orders of most nations were the most productive and Pakistan, who had a remarkable ability to score quickly in the latter overs, did remarkably well. Sri Lanka, as it turned out, didn't make it past the Group stage.

Posted by   on (June 5, 2013, 23:36 GMT)

I got that the writer is trying to differentiate between England and UK in only about the third paragraph. Move on Mr. Hopps, Dhoni is a foreigner and he doesn't care. For most of us, England and UK are the same and we use it interchangeably.

Posted by Naresh28 on (June 5, 2013, 23:25 GMT)

India need a good left armer but Pathan needs to lift his game for this role. Dinesh Karthik has done well to edge himself ahead of Rohit Sharma and Vijay. Where will he slot in? With worries on Raina's (good odi player) form as well. Dhawan also not in form So plenty for Dhoni to ponder. Karthik has certainly eased Dhoni's worries.

Posted by AvidCricFan on (June 5, 2013, 22:29 GMT)

Hope the recent events don't distract the team. This team selection is gutsy and long overdue. The big non-performing names with personality issues have been side lined. This is a welcome change. Selection of Rohit Sharma is still questionable. He has done pretty bad in the warm up games, continuing his pattern of failure when playing for India. He has been given enough chances. If he doesn't perform when given chance, he should be dropped for good. The same for Murali Vijay and Karthik.

Posted by Javed_17 on (June 5, 2013, 22:19 GMT)

i believe jadeja and aswhin are absolute necessities, depth in batting will be absolutely necessary if chasing big targets and of course reliable bowling options. Aswhin has more to be successful with his pace variations being more useful on non turning wickets as shown by swanne. I have always been satisfied with yadhav as a secondary bowler, but a frontline strike bowler (the 5fer against austrailia), never crossed my mind. I seriously doubt india getting to the semis with lack of condition experience.

Posted by crictejas on (June 5, 2013, 21:46 GMT)

With new rules, you have to have 4 seamers..my team for tomorrow's game would be..Karthik,Dhavan,Kohli,Raina,Dhoni,Jadeja,Pathan,Ashwin,B.Kumar,Yadav,Sharma....Rohit...unfortunately will miss out...in order to make room for Karthik..

Posted by Batmanindallas on (June 5, 2013, 20:46 GMT)

Pathan and BK are same mold of bowlers...I dont think Pathan is playing. He will have to wait his turn

Posted by   on (June 5, 2013, 20:23 GMT)

Ths is such a stupid article. Who cares if Wales belongs to Britain or whether they would like to call themselves England? stop giving so much importance to this. If you came to chennai and called it north india, that will definitely not be the headline, nor would it feature in an article supposedly about India's prospects in the game. This was such a waste of time.

Posted by ThatsJustCricket on (June 5, 2013, 19:39 GMT)

@Munafis810 : Only way this would be possible is if one of Jadeja or Pathan bat in the top 6, but don't think Dhoni is too keen on that.

Posted by   on (June 5, 2013, 19:22 GMT)

Playing Rohit Sharma is almost like playing with 10 men. There is only a 5 % chance of Rohit coming good, and it doesn't happen for more than twice a year, Rohit already scored an 82 against England earlier this year. So go in with the specialist openers, and bat Dinesh Karthik at 4. Jadeja is the form man, so play him ahead of Irfan. Not really convinced about Ishant, but he has been among the wickets in the warm-ups so fair enough. Umesh, Bhuvi and Ashwin pick themselves, as do Dhoni, Kohli and Raina.

Posted by couchpundit on (June 5, 2013, 18:40 GMT)

@Munafis810 - you should be in Indian Selection committee, Rohit Sharma will be perennially selected no matter if he keeps failing for another 10 years.

I dont understand why was he even selected for this tourney and here you are....asking him to open.

Posted by   on (June 5, 2013, 18:05 GMT)

You cannot fault Dhoni for not knowing the difference between England and Wales.. Iam sure more than 90% od people in the world will have problems differentiating between England, Great Britian and United Kingdom... If you have a problem why not rename the England team Great britian team or UK team... If u call them England when you have included the Wales also in it... then there is nothing wrong in Dhoni calling Wales as England...... Why not make a separate team for Wales juts like how Scotland has a team???

Posted by DILEEPMJOHN on (June 5, 2013, 17:10 GMT)

Innovations like Pathan to Open with Dhawan and all is not likely because the UK conditions are alien to most of the members of Indian team and opening the innings with 2 new balls is always tough.Pathan is a capable batsman down the order when the ball is not doing much. So in case Pathan is in playing XI it should be strictly as a bowler and as a batsman coming low down the order. Rohit Sharma is short on confidence when he plays for India.His carrier is like 'play well in IPL->selected for National team->Plays poorly for an extended period->Gets dropped from national team->Plays in IPL next edition->Good performance in IPL fetches Nationals election again, this process goes on.May be one final chance can be given to rohit in tomorow's match as he is expected to perform better only tomorow(early in the tournament) rather than in pressure situations later on in the tournament.Karthick is in good knick and its not a bad decision even if he opens the innings. All the best India. Jai Ho

Posted by Anubhav-the-Experience on (June 5, 2013, 16:58 GMT)

@ Muafis...Pathan can come only if hugely swinging conditions are expected but that itself is highly unlikely.

Posted by IndCricFan2013 on (June 5, 2013, 16:58 GMT)

Based on the performance Rohit does not deserve a place in playing XI. How many positions and ways will you invent to give him chances? Yes, Vijay is on poor form on run, the only way he can get in form is to play the match. If he does not perform you can always drop him from ODI team. But it does not make sense to have Rohit open instead of Vijay. Jadeja deserves a place more than Ashwin. If playing 4 seamers then Ashwin has to sit out.

Posted by TM on (June 5, 2013, 16:53 GMT)

my team would be: Dhawan Karthik Kohli Rohit Raina Dhoni Jadeja Ashwin Bhuvuneshwar vinay kumar UMesh

Posted by   on (June 5, 2013, 16:31 GMT)

One of the worst articles I have ever read. No proper orientation of points and things are stretched to connect one point to another.

Posted by Sultan2007 on (June 5, 2013, 15:27 GMT)

Gimme a Break. Pathan at this moment is not the player he once was. He is actually better value with the ball than with the bat...but not a great deal more

Posted by Munafis810 on (June 5, 2013, 14:59 GMT)

For India in order to be handy....Pathan has to come in for Rohit sharma and Kartik instead of Vijay. This was 2 all rounders - medium pace Pathan and left arm spin Jadeja...both capable of making 25 odd runs most of times. Innovation could be send pathan to open with dhawan. But we need to play 4 seamers - Yadav, BK, Pathan and Ishant sharma and two spinners jadeja and ashwin in team to be succesful in UK with new rules

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David HoppsClose
David Hopps David Hopps joined ESPNcricinfo as UK editor early in 2012. For the previous 20 years he was a senior cricket writer for the Guardian and covered England extensively during that time in all Test-playing nations. He also covered four Olympic Games and has written several cricket books, including collections of cricket quotations. He has been an avid amateur cricketer since he was 12, and so knows the pain of repeated failure only too well. The pile of untouched novels he plans to read, but rarely gets around to, is now almost touching the ceiling. He divides his time between the ESPNcricinfo office in Hammersmith and his beloved Yorkshire.
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