Ind v Pak, Super Eights, World Twenty20, Colombo

The absurdity of making Irfan open

There is no logic behind is using Irfan Pathan as an opener, when there are others better suited for the task

Abhishek Purohit in Colombo

September 29, 2012

Comments: 84 | Text size: A | A

Irfan Pathan took 5 for 25, Sri Lanka v India, World Twenty20 2012 warm-up, Colombo, September 15, 2012
Will Irfan open the batting? How about the bowling? © AFP

Knock knock? Who's there? Irfan. Irfan who? New-ball bowler? Bowling allrounder? Batting allrounder? None of these. For the moment, opener. If the sight of Irfan Pathan walking out with Gautam Gambhir to open the India innings against Australia does not seal the argument in favour of MS Dhoni primarily being a defensive captain, nothing will. On the day he took what he called one of his toughest decisions, Dhoni effectively nullified the rare selection decisiveness he had shown in leaving Virender Sehwag out by having Irfan open.

Irfan is no Shane Watson. He has a decent technique and can hit a few big shots, but he is nowhere close to being Twenty20 opening material. It was immaterial how many runs Irfan actually got against Australia. For the record, he made one of the scratchiest thirties you'll ever see. But it was never about how many runs Irfan could have scored anyway. He was opening not because Dhoni thought he was the best opener in the selected XI, but because Dhoni did not want any of his middle-order batsmen to. He was opening because Dhoni did not want Irfan to bat at No. 7, a position where normally Dhoni himself or Suresh Raina bat. It was the height of defensive compromise to needlessly cushion a brave, by Dhoni's standards, selection decision.

Dhoni invests a lot in setting an innings up for a final assault. It is evident in the way he bats, content to play out several dot balls initially with the confidence that he or someone like Raina can make up at the death. At times, he has been criticised for leaving it for too late, for letting the pressure build up. Gambhir made the point in the Australia tri-series earlier this year that Dhoni should not have taken the chase till the final over in an ODI against the hosts.

Whether Gambhir or the world agrees with Dhoni or not, that is the way he has approached limited-overs cricket increasingly over the years, and his record shows he has mostly been successful, especially in ODIs. The point is, can the need to have a potent batsman at No. 6 or No. 7 justify fiddling with the opening slot, especially in a format where there is little time to recover from a diffident start? The bigger point is, Dhoni's most-eggs-in-the-death-overs-basket batting strategy does not suit T20s as much as it suits ODIs. There is a limit to how much damage even the best finishers can cause in a T20 because of the sheer paucity of time in the format. That is why most sides have their best batsmen opening in Twenty20 internationals. Watson and David Warner for Australia, Chris Gayle for West Indies, Tillakaratne Dilshan and Mahela Jayawardene for Sri Lanka, Tamim Iqbal for Bangladesh.

India had opened with Irfan against England as well, but that was an inconsequential game, and Dhoni wanted to give the fringe players in his squad a chance. But against Australia in the opening game of the Super Eights, a stage where India have famously struggled in the World Twenty20 in the past?

Will Irfan open against Pakistan as well? India had an optional nets session today at the beautiful Colts Cricket Club ground in Colombo for which the entire squad turned up. Most of the time was spent in playing a lengthy game of football after which a few batsmen practised in the nets for a short time. Sehwag was not one of them. Irfan was.

If Sehwag plays against Pakistan, the Irfan debate ends there. If Sehwag is left out again tomorrow, there is no justification in having poor Irfan open. It is not as if there is no one else in the middle order to do the job. Virat Kohli can and has done it before. If India feel he is too valuable a batsman to be disturbed from his No. 3 position, Rohit Sharma is another man who has done it before.

Will Irfan get the new ball tomorrow at least? Don't bet on it. He came on in the 10th over against Australia.

Abhishek Purohit is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 13:33 GMT)

Next World cup line up should be Dhawan, Gambhir, Rahane, Virat, Raina, Manoj Tiwari, Unmukt Chand, Ambati RAYDU (WK), Ashwin, Iqbal Abdulla, Yadav, Awana, Varun Aaron.

Posted by AusieBangaleeShameem on (September 30, 2012, 13:29 GMT)

Dhoni is a smart captain cool --- he knows that "Sehwag_Is_Ordinary". So he left Sehwag out -- a very good move!!!

Posted by Bota on (September 30, 2012, 12:56 GMT)

India come HOME back :-). So bye bye!

Posted by lense on (September 30, 2012, 12:38 GMT)

Spot on. India is loosing mainly because of defensive approach by dhoni. His approach to batting is wrong, i say that even when he spectacularly finished some matches, most of which he should finished without much fuss. I am not totally against dhoni but if india really wants to be a top side then we cant have a captain who is defensive.

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 12:26 GMT)

MSK has to drop Harbhajan & Chawla and bring back balaji & shewang….use yuvraj as the second spin option… Irfan is not at all a good option to open an innings in T20, sometimes he bats , but 31 runs from 30 ball and all is not at all good enough in T20, more than that even this 31 runs also not always guaranteed from irfan.. if its shewang who faces 30 balls (also not always guaranteed ), but definitely it will be a different story…

Posted by Cric_info_pak on (September 30, 2012, 12:03 GMT)

india will win today as rehman malik is coming to recue india

Posted by kevindouglas on (September 30, 2012, 10:56 GMT)

Hi fans, No" worry" today, India is going to win both theremaining matches in the super eight.This is an astrological prediction!!Good luck Doni and co.

Posted by cricvoice on (September 30, 2012, 10:32 GMT)

Irfan has already proved that he is one of the best available all rounder in Indian cricket, but still people like Abhishek purohit did appreciate him instead of he is comparing with Shane watson and degrading his Indian all rounder, if you want to compare compare the captaincy between shane watson and Dhoni ?

Even I have seen cricketer like Madan lal and Ashok Malhotra didn't accept Irfan as all rounder, and have created a new terminology - batsman all rounder and bowler all rounder. What i have learnt that all rounder is all rounder, either you say all rounder or batsmen or bowler but Indian experts commentors need more maturity to judge their Indian players with equal eye.

Posted by S.N.Singh on (September 30, 2012, 9:49 GMT)



Posted by Mob_King on (September 30, 2012, 9:16 GMT)

Irfan Pathan

James Franklin

Albie Morkel

Steve Smith

Seems like every team's got one!

Posted by S.VIJAYRAJA on (September 30, 2012, 7:50 GMT)

All th BEST "team" INDIA...Al th BEST captain MSD

Posted by Drakhtar on (September 30, 2012, 7:45 GMT)

see the way how one gets out.Ifone gets out defending,beaten by pace again and again eg Rohit,he needs a break,if one gets out in the same fasion eg Viru at 3rd man position he should avoid that short till slog period.Viru should also fall in line of disciplin.Irfan is the only pace allrounder so if Dhoni wants to hone his batting by opening with him,there is a logic.I can't understand how the best show in batting line up(31 was the best score)can be criticised.Getting out at boundry in T20 should be excused eg Uvraj.

Posted by nikkam on (September 30, 2012, 7:44 GMT)

the episode of sehwag getting injured at major tournaments and the media giving it a different now common. look at how england dropped KP..i think anybody who has a megative influence on the team should be dropped regardless of their star value...of course the player replacing might take time to learn...but it does not affect the team morale. I still back MSD in dropping sehwag and zaheer...both are the last survivors from the senior only request to MSD is that rohit needs to open the innings...irfan can be used as floater..but only after first 6 overs...3 spinner logic is not very sound...variety is more important and two full time spinners and 2 part timers covers the requirements. the order can be rohit, gambhir, kohli, irfan, raina and yuvi as finisher alongwith MSD. tiwary can be back up..balaji, harbhajan, ashwin make up the tail which can bat a bit...i hope this would help in allotting diff roles to diff players and make them perform to the optimum.

Posted by Bruisers on (September 30, 2012, 7:34 GMT)

Stop asking for Rohit's removal.. It was Rohit Sharma's 55* (33) that took India to a total of 170 against England. If it was not for him, India would have barely made 150 and probably lost the match. Drop Yuvraj and get Sehwag in the team.

Posted by ThirdRenegade on (September 30, 2012, 7:32 GMT)

I agree with many things said but one thing that's not crossed anyone's mind is that Dhoni may be thinking of using Irfan as a pinch hitter for the first 5 overs which isn't a bad idea considering his big hitting. But the problem is Irfan was never preferred as an opener even by Delhi Daredevils on the flat Delhi pitches to thwart the opposition so how can he do it here!! Plus Irfan's batting has fallen away a lot, looks like he's not been practicing for it for some time now. I don't agree with Dhoni's tactic of bunching the middle order for last 5-8 overs, the best you could hope for would be 75~120 runs. In the initial overs,consider a run a ball, we have 70~90 runs. Best/Practical scenario 190+/165. The 165 score's more likely to come about & even that is high & by no means insurmountable!! Also makeshift openers waste a lot of deliveries & may not be able to put away the bad balls.India's playing spinners off the pitch rather in the air means scoring restricted

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 7:27 GMT)

What if all these are speculations. Did Abhishek Purohit have a sneak peek into Dhoni's mind? What if Sehwag was not fully fit! That kind of situations also happened in the past. As a tactic, Dhoni had kept the injury of a key player as a secret, till the tournament was over, NOT to give a psychological edge to the opponents.

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 7:21 GMT)

dhoni didnt open the bowling with irfan against australia. that is the reason india lose. poor captaincy from dhoni. and shewag should bring back to game aganist pakisthan.good luck india.

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 7:00 GMT)

@Vis Kanuri. Agree with you. Bring in Viru & Tiwari in place of Rohit and Chawla

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 6:57 GMT)

Why Yousuf is not there, he is much more destructive then Irfan with bat.

Posted by Vindaliew on (September 30, 2012, 6:50 GMT)

Opening with an allrounder whose wicket will not put you on the back foot so much always sounded like a good idea. Manoj Prabhakar was a good enough batsman to open for India towards the end of his career, and when he scored runs it was nice. Even if he got out for a 1st ball duck, you effectively start again with your real openers. It's something like a nightwatchman principle, although on quite a few occasions Prabhakar outstayed his opening partner. It's a nice luxury to have, but in T20 it's a bad idea. Unless it's someone like Greatbatch or Kalu (no offense to either of them) who isn't a top-order batsman (or in Kalu's case, not even a particularly good batsman) there's no point. India have a settled opening partnership, both quite suited for T20, so it makes no sense to spoil that. Even Pakistan, where Afridi is crying out to be a pinch-hitter (especially as he's looking quite hopeless where he is) they are rightly loathe to break the Nazir/Hafeez partnershipe

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 6:41 GMT)

In a battle of wits, Pakistan has always had the upper edge against India. As a final gamble, Dhoni might just flip for the mercurial Sehwag to deliver the master blow. Still, Pakistan look to be the all-time favorites. Watch this space!

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 6:28 GMT)

on his day sehwag can be destructive but those days have reduced in number in recent past. keeping spining wickets in mind and his unpredictability Dhoni must have kept him outside though i wud want him to be in the Indian squad too but as a captain this is too tough to be a call...

Posted by nmdasaya on (September 30, 2012, 6:19 GMT)

i would say this again ! dhoni has won two world cups bro ! , what do we know compared to him!

Posted by baqs on (September 30, 2012, 6:14 GMT)

The only way to use Irfan is with new ball. He is good when it's swinging and can even come handy with the long handle in the final overs..

Posted by uday2294 on (September 30, 2012, 6:12 GMT)

I think Sehwag has a great record against pakisthan and he should play this game because Dhoni has no choice now and irfan maybe vulnerable to pakishtan bowlimg attack

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 6:06 GMT)

In my view better option is to remove rohit sharma and give place to viru.uv can help team with his bab ball and field.

Posted by cricmad81 on (September 30, 2012, 6:06 GMT)

T20 is about powerhitting.Who is the power hitter in indian side ? Sehwag.All others are either nudgers or sort of classical batsmen.Please don't talk about raina as he is joke at international level and bowl short to him and he is gone. Dhoni has the worst strike rate amongst all batsmen who have scored more than 500 runs in t20 cricket.Why is he still in the side ? Uthappa/kartik/ojha all have better strike rates than him.We should remove dhoni and give a chance to these players. As for irfan he lost his swing when he was used as a opener in greg chappals's era.Now that he is beginning to get his swing back a bit once again using him as a bowling allrounder does not help.Play him as a bowler he bats a bit in the lower order. India's biggest probem is the snail pace batting and poor caiptaincy with biased team selections by dhoni.Remove him from the team and all our problems will be solved.

Posted by indianfan535 on (September 30, 2012, 6:05 GMT)

Sehwag has to play! He is an impact player, and everyone seems to be talking about his consistency, or rather the lack of it, but in T20's no one has the consistency, bar Chris Gayle or Virat Kohli.

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 6:03 GMT)

may be piyush must be replaced with sehwag because piyush is just a spinner and is not good at batting where as sehwag is an all rounder he can hit Huge bangs with bat and can ball ok!

Posted by EngineerKhan on (September 30, 2012, 6:00 GMT)

Yeah indeed it was most agonizing innings of the tournament. And he was responsible for running Gambhir out who was in good nick

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 5:59 GMT)

sehwag and manoj tiwari must be in playing 11.Rohit shoud be out from team bc he never perform good, he only struggle for playing 11.Best of luck team India........

Posted by prakash2431985 on (September 30, 2012, 5:58 GMT)

It is not fare to put irfan in place of sehwag. Irfan could never match the skills of sehwag as a pure explosive batsman and his abilities shown over the years. If you need a bowler you should depend on bowlers and not by vacating the place of a batsman that too of sehwag,s caliber so there is no need of depending irfan to do both jobs which he could not make it instead use raina and yuvraj a minimum of 2 overs each or who ever is better at the moment as squad legally lacks an important pace bowler and its not going to be easy to match the bowling department with only spinners which you need to understand the most a pure pacer is always an asset in any format of the game

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 5:50 GMT)

dhoni/boyz hit some six's, in T20 without hitting six's you cant win the maches ;)

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 5:42 GMT)

If he can open with Irfan Pathan, Why not Yusuf Pathan open the T20 Innings. Dhoni brings him in ODI's he fails and he is not even considered for T20's. He could serve as a bowling option too. This is absurd decision to open the innnings with Irfan. Dhoni you've got this one wrong

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 5:40 GMT)

Open with Tiwary. He has done it before.

Posted by screamingeagle on (September 30, 2012, 5:37 GMT)

I dunno about the opening part in batting. But Irfan definitely should take the new ball if he is playing. Piyush Chawla should not be even carrying drinks, he is best left to clean up the dressing room. It should be Gambhir and Sehwag to open. Kohli, Sharma, Tiwari, Raina and Dhoni at 3-4-5-6-7. Then Irfan and Bhajji, followed by Ashwin and Zaheer. Bowling Zaheer-Irfan, then Ashwin and Bhajji. Sehwag, Kohli, Raina to make up for the remaining 4 overs. Thats the best they can do with this set of players. Not saying that is a winning combo, but better than the ones who took the field so far. I, for one, expect India to get thrashed in the remaining two matches. After this drop Mr. Dhoni who seems to have become too big to care about the team.Drop a few non performers and get the new guys in and let them get the experience. Otherwise we are going to struggle against other teams at home too.

Posted by greenluv on (September 30, 2012, 5:33 GMT)

Send Irfan in .....we will send our Pathan >GUL< bach kai this guy can hit and hits really good LOL

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 5:32 GMT)

sehwag shuld play no matter what...nd also even if dhoni doesnt want to play him then rohit sharma shuld whtas the point in making irfan open the ings...damn what is going in dhoni's mind i dont know but if its nt sehwag then it has to be rohit sharma...

Posted by 777aditya on (September 30, 2012, 5:27 GMT)

Yeah well, let us not make a Yusuf out of Irfan again. First of all, it hardly makes sense to pick up Irfan as a batsman or Yusuf as a bowler. Secondly, if at all Irfan deserves any criticism, it should be reserved to his bowling. He gave away 19 runs in the only over he bowled, which stinks. Finally and more importantly, he was the highest scorer for India in the match. The whole team looked terribly listless, so they lost. Team India would be better off planning about today's match against Pakistan than paying attention to these rhetoric bubbles.

Posted by indianpunter on (September 30, 2012, 5:23 GMT)

Sandip Patil's new selection committee has an immediate task at hand. India will lose today and will be out of contention from the semis. That would mean that we havent won any super eight games in 5 yrs ( after the 2007 win). Take one hard long look at the teams. Are we playing our best 11? Is T-20 the game for everyone? Should Gambhir, Yuvraj, Sehwag, Zaheer etc be playing T-20? Isnt it time for a complete overhaul? shouldnt the teams be different for T-20 and 50 over games? I am not holding my breath as nothing happened after the 8-0 test debacle. Such a shame that no one cares.

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 5:14 GMT)

We cant say anythng by just seeing the match in the tv or sys or in the ground... we dnt knw wat is gng on the dressing room... i thnk so irfan pathan is dng some kind of Rahul Dravid things... asked to open the batting and he does without any reply and infact topscored 4 India but NOT AT HIS BEST RHYTHM... but one thing to note is he had the comeback to the indian team purely due to his bowling abilities and his form to strike in the first few overs... but he was sent to bowl at the middle overs (10) and there is no swing in the ball he couldnt find his rhythm as it was clearly visible from his bowling-- too short.. SO ITS BETTER TO MAKE ROHIT OPEN as he had done b4...

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 5:12 GMT)

I am not sure why is everyone so much reluctant in talking about Rohit Sharma? This guy has played no where close to his merits and still Dhoni as well as the board is giving him chances after chances.. Is it really worth having him in the squad?

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 5:05 GMT)

he frinds...shehwag wil make a return that's for sure...only concern for batting is yuvraj and rohit...however when sehwag will come,anyone has t to be on the bedcnh,but bring manoj tiwary bacfk in...he should pay at no. 4...a good stablizer with kohli...he can play shots,make 50 odd runs.......yuvraj is not fit...and we cant give anymore chances to rohit for 1 fo 7th batsman,i think indians are idiots,irfan ashwiin and harbhajan all have tes ttons,they can together paly 30 deliveires and scre 50 runs...we saw irfan limpses in cb series and bhajji;s against nz.ashwin is not so good.but he can bat....irfan must opent he bowling..just look how succesful he is when he open s the bowling...zahher can choke early overs..;harbhajan and ashwin are more than better for middle overs...but the major concern in 5th bowler...for slog overs...dinda is nothing as we saw against eng when hegave 15-16 runs ithwrwise india would have won with 100 gamble at zk and irfan

Posted by loks07 on (September 30, 2012, 4:56 GMT)

I feel in T20's you can actually fill in the team with 11 batsmen. All part-timers will be as effective as some of these front-line bowlers. Just for T20's, what say?

Posted by spinkingKK on (September 30, 2012, 4:25 GMT)

Also, please don't forget that opening in an Hit and Miss game like a T20 doesn't need skills like Gavaskar. Indian players are taking it too serious. They should go out there and enjoy hitting. Who cares if you get all-out for 20 and lose or scramble 140 and lose. A loss is a loss. However, this is a hit and miss game anyone can lose to anyone any day. The same Watson and Warner could be made to look ordinary on another day. Indian players got the talent to hit hard and big right down to Harbhajan. So, just enjoy and keep hitting for 120 balls or 60 balls in a rain-affected comedy matches. What baffles me is, even when there are only 10 overs per side, these captains and former cricketers will be talking of building an innings, pitch deteriorating and spin playing a role etc.

Posted by spinkingKK on (September 30, 2012, 4:17 GMT)

In 2005 Ashes series, the aussies were saying Watson is no Flintoff. In an Ashes series before that, the poms were saying Flintoff is no Botham. Irfan has got it in him to open and hopefully the same writer will be saying sombody else is no Irfan in the near future. I think, in this match, he had a message from the captain to build an innings. It was not his style. However, he still managed to top score and get out at the right time to give chance to the other hitters. I think a good captain should let the players make their own decision to the way they wanted to play. At this level, everybody knows what is right in any given situation. Captian should try to be transparent if he can. Captain doesn't own the team. He just got some extra responsibility like choosing the players required for different situations and making the decistion to bat or bowl etc.

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 3:52 GMT)

sooooooooooooo INDIA iz gng to WIN today.............. 1}V Sehwag 2}G Gambhir 3}V Kohli 4}SK Raina 5}Yuvraj Singh 6}MK Tiwary 7}MS Dhoni 8}IK Pathan, 9}R Ashwin 10}Harbhajan Singh 11}Z Khan, diz is d perfct team today fr INDIA......

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 3:48 GMT)

Dhoni should himself open the innings in T20s - now that would be called brave captaincy! Given that Dhoni is watchful initially it might help India's cause. I would prefer Gambhir and Dhoni to open the innings with Sehwag coming in at #3 against Pakistan!!!

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 3:39 GMT)

IF harbajan or Aswin comes to opening ,who could strike at fast bowlers very hard,It would intimidate the bowlers if they hit and if they fail, it's not a big loss to the indian side whereas if Irfan fails it is sure loss of backup after the 6th wicket and It means dhoni can't go for his weird shots and has to play sensible upto 17-18th over which cripples our scorecard..!!

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 3:15 GMT)

I also make Irfan responsible for Gambhir runout. There was no run and he should have turned down the run.

Posted by Realfighters on (September 30, 2012, 3:06 GMT)

Irfan should open, stop hating irfan

Posted by mayank125 on (September 30, 2012, 2:47 GMT)

if sehwag is not playing again then put rohit sharma in opening.pathan should bat in lower order.

Posted by venkatesh.raghunathan on (September 30, 2012, 2:46 GMT)

Guess this article has highlighted most of the points in my mind after that loss. What was Dhoni thinking?? Irfan is good player but not a match winner at the top, Rohit played at #4 against Eng, if he is a match winner, why was he sent before Yuvraj? Dhoni is supposed to be a big hitter but has a SR of around 100 which is dismal in T20 and can't remember him hitting in Indian colors. Coming to bowling, only time Irfan is potent is with the new ball, everyone but Dhoni seems to know that. 3rd spinner or 3rd seamer is debatable but with Chawla as your 3rd spinner, that ends your discussion. If it was Ojha, it can be discussed, but here, anyone who can run in and bowl should be best bet. Overall, Strategy wise prior to match Dhoni might have been correct, but made a big mess in the execution part. We need 3 quicks against PAK. If u need Seh, drop a batsman. My X1 woud be Gamb, Kohli, Rohit\Seh, Yuvi, Raina, Dhoni, Pathan, Ashwin, Harbajan, Zaheer, Balaji\Dinda.

Posted by singhinderjit95 on (September 30, 2012, 2:37 GMT)

let ashwin open too. he's the best indian batsman right now. in tests he should come to 3/4

Posted by niksaims on (September 30, 2012, 2:12 GMT)

I am a die hard fan of Indian Cricket Team. But I feel sorry to say that. Right now the best team is playing NKP Salve Challenger Trophy. India A team.. Yusuf Pathan, Robin Uthappa, Ajinkya Rahane, Sikhar Dhava, Ishant Sharma, Pragyan Ojha in INdia A team. I guess this team has more chances of winning T20 world cup than this current team full of useless players. Lets hope this new selection team make some good changes

Posted by dimple8usa on (September 30, 2012, 1:50 GMT)

Agree !!! Don't know why people keep pushing old Shewag. Who was never consistent. We don't have that Luxery to give him 15 more flops before he hits 30 or 40 by luck (People call it on his day) Irfan just got the second chance and even though slower rate, at least he was holding the wicket. None of the other star player could even hold the wicket. Dhoni is no dummy, he doesn't want to ruin his reputation as the best captain. At this time India's weakest link is their opening pair. There are so many talented people sitting on bench. Why push Sehwag only. People have figured out how to get him out. Also Rohit who can't even play one ball and people are still supporting him. Compare to Rohit, Yuvraj is definitely valuable to have in the playing 11.

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 1:33 GMT)

If one recalls, it was Greg Chappell's idea to have Irfan open batting which caused him unnecessary stress and took away from his bowling. I get the feeling that Dhoni does not want to support Irfan and do the same. Also, Yuvraj looks very lethargic and shouldn't play in the rest of the tournament if India wants to win.

Posted by georgebhai on (September 30, 2012, 1:13 GMT)

Sehwag should open. If he is not fit, he should be sent back. In Sehwag's absence, Kohli should be asked to the job just as Tendulkar took on the job of opening years ago at New Zealand. If Irfan Pathan is picked in the XI, he has to be given the new ball instead of Zaheer. Irfan's utility is best with the new ball. Zaheer is perhaps better with the older ball.

Posted by mannan_ma on (September 30, 2012, 1:11 GMT)

Abhishek got it right 100% when he called it absurdity,i e opening with irfan. i think dhoni has decided to finish irfan's career as a player once and for all. a few years back so much pressure was put on this bowling allrounder by asking him to open by the then coach greg chappell and co that his career almost ended prematurely.his bowling was in tatters and he lost the confidence in himself and was out of the team for 3 or 4 years. irfan has just returned to the team as a bowler and there they go again. dhoni is definitely out of form as a captain/leader.sehwag needs to return to the job he does best ,as an opener.perhaps the most destructive opening bat in the business with gayle,and watson .drop yuvraj. you cannot win matches by being sentimental. dhoni must show that he deserves to be the captain.

Posted by   on (September 30, 2012, 0:04 GMT)

I feel Irfan is naturally gifted as a batsman. I have seen him score against the best attacks (in Australia in test, in SA) while other "specialist" batsmen look tentative .....I am not as confident about Rohit or even Yuvraj !!

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 23:58 GMT)

Very good article. Dhoni's strategy of "delaying the charge" has costed many times. Regarding opening slot, I think bringing Sehwag back is only choice. Absent that, Pathan is as good a choice as any.

Posted by vj3478 on (September 29, 2012, 23:37 GMT)

I too agree with the author that Irfan shouldn't be opening the innings not bcoz he doesnt have the technique/capability.. its just unfair to put so much pressure on his comeback after years of struggle with form/injuries. Let him play his natural game at lower order... let him settle down in the team by playing for a season... let him njoy the game and, let us too!

Posted by KabaabRoll on (September 29, 2012, 23:20 GMT)

I don't see how picking on Irfan can solve India's problems. He actually did his job as the opener, and got a decent start. What would Viru have scored? The answer is simple, throw out Rohit Sharma, and bring in Viru, better yet Tiwary.

Posted by Desihungama on (September 29, 2012, 22:54 GMT)

Thank you for leaving Pakistan out when you said most sides have their best batsmen opening in Twenty20 internationals. Their best batsman does not play Twenty20's. (Azhar Ali). Look. You can score most runs against fast bowlers and you should be sending in your specialist players. Sehwag, Gambhir, Kohli any one can do. They are all match winners. Good luck in tomorrow's match. Go Pakistan.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 22:31 GMT)

Bring in Sehwag and Manoj Tiwari instead of Rohit Sharma and Piyush Chawla. Rohit has got enough chances already and he only proved that he shouldn't be in the team. I wonder what is so special about him to get more chances than any other talented cricketer in India. Hope India wins tomorrow

Posted by Meety on (September 29, 2012, 22:22 GMT)

I think it's all well & good to bag Irfan's innings as one of the "...scratchiest thirties you'll ever see..." - however that is the nature of the game, & ultimately he outperformed MOST in the batting line up. Without him, India could of scored LOWER!

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 22:07 GMT)

If opening is so much of an issue, then Dhoni should send himself along with Gambhir and stop tinkering with the rest of batting line-up.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 21:34 GMT)

yeah he didnot succeed now time to try zaheerkhan or dinda as opener

Posted by Feroz9700 on (September 29, 2012, 21:32 GMT)

I dont agree with the Author's comments on Irfan's batting technique. He has a test hundred to his credit and we have seen him play many useful knocks coming lower down the order. He is pretty effective using the long handle as well. However I feel Sehwag should open for India, as I feel he is the most destructive batsmen as opposition fear him. Captain Dhoni should howver give Irfan the new ball as he seems to have found his bowling rythm.

Posted by montys_muse on (September 29, 2012, 21:04 GMT)

Sehwag seems to be injured as he isnt even taking part in the practice sessions!

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 21:02 GMT)

Why is no one questioning Rohit Sharma? First we had Yuvraj and now Irfan, give them a break. They need to play some more games before saying whether they should or not be in the team. In comparison, Sharma has been playing for long even got chance in Australia but doesn't perform. Still plays a World Cup, need to commend Dhoni for having at least one non-performing player - Ravindra Jadeja and now Rohit Sharma.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 20:54 GMT)

Sehwag, Gambhir, Kohli, Raina, Dhoni, Rohit, Irfan, Ashwin, Harbhajan, Balaji, Zaheer. No need of Piyush Chawla.. Rohit,Kohli and Raina are better part timers..and another thing Shane Watson is a great player but in batting not compare to Kohli, Gambhir, Raina and MSD. these players can take on any bowlers in the world..its just mental thing..and you will even whacked by ireland players if you'll bowl short tiny practice shot balls to the likes Shane Watson and Warner. Dhoni must play up the order if 50+ for MSD doesnt look good..he should open if possible..India will win all the matches.

Posted by captainzaibee on (September 29, 2012, 20:43 GMT)

I am a Pakistani and i feel Indian team management should bring back Shewag against Pak... drop youraj and bring Manoj.. Zaheer, Irfan, Ashwin, Bhajji can be the 4 bowlers whereas Mix of Shewag, Raina, Manoj and Sharma can look after the spell of 5th bowler...

Posted by cricket_fan_1980 on (September 29, 2012, 20:38 GMT)

With the kind of batsmen India have, I really can see no logic in sending Irfan Pathan as an opener. First of all, he is not really that explosive of a batsman. Second, that trend of sending Afridi or Razzaq or Klusener or Flintoff or whatever to open to get 30, 40 runs really quickly on the board has really been relegated as old-fashioned, and something people try or used to try in ODIs. No one does it in T20s, so this kind of strategy from India is kind of confusing. This is also pointing towards a bit of a tough patch for Dhoni. I am one of his biggest fans, but he is really not delivering well in this tournament. Well, in either case, as far as good cricketing decisions go Sehwag really should play. As a Pakistan fan, I ofcourse hope he doesn't and Dhoni sticks with Irfan as the opener :)

Posted by KapilsDevils1983 on (September 29, 2012, 20:35 GMT)

Irfan Pathan is a player who will put his hand up when a task needs doing and do his best to do it. He has limited ability, but a lot of heart. I am sure he would not want to open and is far more comfortable hitting pacers for six late in the innings but Dhoni asked him to open and therefore he did it. As his ability is limited, he needs to be effectively utilised by Dhoni, whether that means maximum overs with the new ball, or at no.7 striking big ones out of the ground. If used effectively, he is more than an handy player to have.

Posted by Imran ACCA on (September 29, 2012, 20:29 GMT)

I would ay give irfaan another chance as a last chance tomorrow.

Posted by Angry_Bowler on (September 29, 2012, 20:29 GMT)

Dhoni's luck ran out and I hope this series will be last for him as captain. After 2007 cup India couldn't win a single match in super 8.

Posted by Viru219 on (September 29, 2012, 20:23 GMT)

By sending Irfan to open, Dhoni "thinks" he is doing two things - 1. Nullifying Sehwag's position, hoping on Irfan to emulate Sehwag, having given hit-at-will license (But, he doesn't know that's not practical to even imagine somebody to be as gifted/destructive as Sehwag). 2. He is setting "high" expectations on Irfan to perform as a dashing opening batsman, in order to justify his place in the team (He doesn't know that makes a HUGE impact in Irfan's bowling, as evident in Australia's Match)

Question of an average Indian Fan, Why is Dhoni setting such stringent tests on some selected Individuals, what about consistent Non-performers, who are getting plenty of chances even after series of failures.

Bottom line: Dhoni has to rethink about his strategies, before jeopardizing his own position in the team.

Posted by Ruchit on (September 29, 2012, 19:51 GMT)

Well I disagree with one statement in the whole article...

"If Sehwag plays against Pakistan, the Irfan debate ends there"

No it doesnt, cause I see Gqambhir being rested against PK! Dhoni has this habbit, to solve one problem, he creates another!

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 19:37 GMT)

Baffles me that a captain who has won the world cups of all the formats for a country is being criticized for his decisions. What is going on in the cricket team, dressing room and in the ground, only the captain can judge best. Its easy to sit out and criticize. Leave him alone, and let him do his job. He has done it for you before and he can do it again only if he is given the correct resources.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 19:27 GMT)

May be Dhoni wants to see Irfan Pathan turn up into a Shane Watson type of players. :D

It is heights of experiments, what is the coach of Indian team thinks about this experiment. I will be very much surprised if India can win the match against Pakistan. Why Dhoni comes so low in the batting order I never understand. Anyhow I personally feel that Sehwag is far better player than Piyush Chawla. If team India wants to take any hard decision on Sehwag then they have to take in his training sessions not when team is touring a foreign country for an World Cup.

Posted by   on (September 29, 2012, 19:27 GMT)

Dhoni should have been dropped him self.He never had a fifty in t20 with 110+strike rate..Because he is keeper and captain ..he is still playing

Posted by krik8crazy on (September 29, 2012, 19:21 GMT)

Irfan at 6 is a better bet if you want to go with 5 bowlers. Make Rohit open - he has done it in the 20-20 2009 world cup.

Posted by zuber21886 on (September 29, 2012, 19:15 GMT)

Irfan is a player, who when asked to perform a task will do with all his effort to accomplish it. He isn't an usual opener, he was asked, and he scored highest against Australia. But still as an allrounder he should be sent behind, and in bowling as he have more swing then the current bowling line-up. New ball should be shared with him.

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Tournament Results
Sri Lanka v West Indies at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 7, 2012
West Indies won by 36 runs
Australia v West Indies at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 5, 2012
West Indies won by 74 runs
Sri Lanka v Pakistan at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 4, 2012
Sri Lanka won by 16 runs
India v South Africa at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 2, 2012
India won by 1 run
Australia v Pakistan at Colombo (RPS) - Oct 2, 2012
Pakistan won by 32 runs
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