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Senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

Is there madness in Dhoni's method?

The Indian captain's instincts and reasoning have worked in the past - even giving Nehra the final over - but there are times he needs to take a leaf from his batting and play it safe

Sharda Ugra

March 16, 2011

Comments: 225 | Text size: A | A

MS Dhoni blazes one over point, India v New Zealand, World Cup 2011 warm-up, Chennai, February 16, 2011
Dhoni's strike rate at No. 3 and 4 is vastly better than his overall strike rate, so why does he choose to bat down the order? © Getty Images

There is an advert seen on Indian television these days that has celebrities of varying significance egging on the Indian team in the World Cup. The Hindi tagline at the end says, "Team aise nahin jeet ti, jitaana padtaa hai." Translated that means, "The team doesn't win just like that, you've got to make it win." It is meant for India's fans - as if they needed to be told to put the weight of their will behind MS Dhoni's squad. Should Dhoni turn his attention away from his favourite off-field pastime of video-gaming and watch the advert, it might sound like an instruction directed at him as well.

Dhoni has spent a relatively unharried four years in charge of India, or at least he has been careful to ensure it looks that way. More than his brand-building, cringe-making Captain Cool persona, Dhoni's tenure as skipper has been secure, rival-proof, and therefore wrinkle-free. Now, suddenly, over the course of a few weeks of the World Cup, creases are beginning to show both in the Indian team and its captain. India's World Cup is still alive, but already gloomy calculations are being made as to how their place in the quarter-finals is actually not secure. For the first time since his oxygen-depleting ascent, neither is Dhoni's as captain. On Sunday against West Indies in Chennai, he will be watched closer than he has been in a long time.

As startling as Dhoni's message may have been to his batsmen who played "for the crowd" on Saturday, it has not surprised them. Nor has it sent them, the India faithful will be relieved to hear, into despair or doubt. It is what Dhoni's modus operandi has always been: to speak directly, briefly and non-confrontationally to players; let them know what he believes needs to be done. In media briefings he does most of the same, but can frequently be snippy. Always, though, he will laboriously explain why he changed the batting or bowling order, chose to bat or chase, and then offer philosophical observations about hybrid fuel and life jackets.

At the World Cup, Dhoni's captaincy has been under the cosh for a set of reasons: in larger terms, it has to do with selection, like in the Piyush Chawla case. In smaller measure, decisions in Nagpur about changes in the batting order, and giving Ashish Nehra the final over. Until now Dhoni's has been captaincy by instinct over method, his own school of reasoning, and like with most captains once they gain greater control of their team, a healthy dose of obstinacy. In the last four years of his captaincy in the short game, if Dhoni had to be asked what was India's best ODI performance under his leadership, he would be choosing between the early CB Series win of 2008, an Asia Cup victory, or bilateral series wins in New Zealand and West Indies. Not such a tough choice, is it?

Now Dhoni's decisions, made using both reason and instinct, are backfiring often because their basic premises may be incorrect. Why should the cotton-woolling of Chawla not be interpreted as cricket's version of babysitting? Dhoni said Chawla had been picked to play in Delhi against Netherlands, because "basically you have to see which was the player that needed this game most, rather than the team needing the player". Or how about No. 4 being Virat Kohli's sacrosanct spot, before or after which he should ideally not be sent? Kohli is 22. Should he not be running loose wherever and whenever he is sent? Yuvraj Singh has spent all but 41 matches of his ODI career flitting between Nos. 4, 5 and 6, Rahul Dravid has kept wicket in ODIs, Sourav Ganguly broke one of the most successful ODI partnerships for India to go down to No. 3, Virender Sehwag went from being a middle-order batsman to an opener who has redefined the Test-match art itself.

Like all captains, Dhoni also has his players of choice who are given more licence, and his team recognises instinctively who those players are. Unfortunately for Dhoni his captaincy has not coincided with the discovery of new match-winners, like those found under Sourav Ganguly, for example

To move Yusuf Pathan up the order in a match against one of the best attacks in the World Cup on a wicket that was stopping was again based on a formula that the openers had given the platform and the pace of the innings needed to be amped up. The decision that had to be taken was which among the "explosive power" hitters Dhoni had spoken about would be able to do the job required: Yuvraj, Kohli, Dhoni or Pathan. Against Ireland, Pathan (30 off 24 balls, two fours three sixes) was pitch perfect. Against Dale Steyn in the Powerplay, he should have been the last option. Like all captains Dhoni also has his players of choice who are given more licence, and his team recognises instinctively who those players are. Unfortunately for Dhoni his captaincy has not coincided with the discovery of new match-winners, like those found under Sourav Ganguly, for example.

When a captain's instinct starts to head off in a direction where things do not go the way he wants, they sometimes overwhelm and undermine reason. A random example being not letting Harbhajan Singh immediately at JP Duminy, who has been dismissed by him three times in Tests in single digits. Four overs from the pacemen passed, Duminy put up 19 off 14 before Harbhajan came on. Immediately Duminy's runs dried up and he was out off Harbhajan's sixth ball to him.

The decision between Nehra and Harbhajan Singh became a 50-50 toss-up, with the spinner offering to bowl the 49th so that the team's most nerveless bowler, Zaheer Khan, could send down the 50th. If the 49th goes well - like it did for the Indians against South Africa in Nagpur, where Zaheer conceded four - the man bowling the 50th at least has a buffer. So far it had gone to Dhoni's plan. Nehra was the moment Dhoni gambled, because he has been India's best ODI bowler over the last year, the go-to man at the death. In Rajkot last year Nehra bowled the 50th against a rampaging Angelo Mathews with 11 needed off the last over to go past India's 414. He conceded five off the first three balls and took Mathews' wicket with the fourth.

Nehra has bowled the final over for India four times in his career, the two now forgotten instances being Karachi, the first ODI of the electric 2004 India-Pakistan series and against West Indies in a 2005 tri-series in Colombo, which took India to the final. Nagpur was the first time India lost. Before the World Cup he had taken 73 wickets (62 in ODIs and 13 in Twenty20s) since his comeback into the Indian team in June 2009. Why should Dhoni not have gone to him? Other than the fact that he may not have been warmed up not having bowled for 12 overs. It was a logical gamble that didn't work. Pathan and Chawla are the illogical gambles - they were perhaps doomed to tank.

As much as Dhoni wants his batsmen to "curb their instincts", it is the best time for his leadership to internalise the same message. Since his debut for India in 2004, he has changed his batting to eliminate risk (as if we haven't noticed that the cola-patented "helicopter shot" is not to be seen these days), yet he will not bat higher up the order as Ganguly repeatedly beseeches him to do in both commentary and column. He has a better average and 100-plus strike rate batting at either No. 3 or 4, but has done so in only 32 of 162 innings. His keeping has vastly improved from the 2007 version, and he still remains one of India's better runners between wickets. The match versus West Indies may have to mark the moment that his leadership evolves in a different direction. Or it could take a route he would rather not contemplate.

Sharda Ugra is senior editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (March 19, 2011, 1:11 GMT)

hi is very cool person

Posted by   on (March 18, 2011, 14:36 GMT)

To be a great team one has to use Australia as the standard while making comparisons. Australia never plays a game that does not have the best playing 11 for a game - they do not experiment. This creates competition and every player is always trying to be on top of their game. They also choose players based on form and not past performance. Even Bret Lee is put on the bench if he is not in form. Dhonis method of instinct and gambling is never going to let him win a world cup - moreover he is not really contributing with runs either.

Posted by   on (March 18, 2011, 2:23 GMT)

Dhobi (Dhoni) needs to be shunted out....In the mnatch against South Africa, he took singles and let nehra and munaf face in the deatth overs and they got out..Dhoni remained unbeaten 11 runs from 20 balls...what a captain...TELL ME LAST TIME WHEN HE HAS PLAYED WELL FOR INDIA..SCORED OVER 100 PERCENT STRIKE RATE

Posted by   on (March 17, 2011, 22:49 GMT)

I just cant figure out y people have taken so long to understand dhoni s decision making flaws. To start with the 20-20 final final over was given to joginder sharma when harbhajan had an over left, and i can count n such cases where his judgement cant be justified by any means. Even the horse of luck get tired if u test it to the limit. Hope india wins

Posted by SriBob on (March 17, 2011, 22:15 GMT)

The decision that cost us most was the one to take the power play when it was taken. We were scoring at 6.75 runs an over and there was no need for any acceleration at that time considering that Gambhir had just managed to score 10 runs in the over prior to the power play. We could have waited till the 45th over to take the power play. Well settled batsmen who were scoring runs at a very good pace were forced to change their strategy for no reason. The same thing happened against England too and we fell short of what we should have scored. And when we needed to take the power play against Netherlands to increase our NRR, Dhoni waited till 2 runs were required.

Posted by kumarcoolbuddy on (March 17, 2011, 19:31 GMT)

Good say @Thilak Raam, its not easy taking CAPTAINCY FOR INDIA , with so much pressure from huge # of fans, especially when players are not in form (including Dhoni).Being a captain he shud take responsibility if his team loses but that doesn't say he takes all blame. Dhoni cannot go into bowlers' mind while bowling. Unfortunately Nehra's bowling didn't work fine at right time. @DaisonGarvasis, FYI luck plays only for couple of games not for years of success.

Posted by Nampally on (March 17, 2011, 19:17 GMT)

Some of Dhoni's tactics defy logic. Luckily India has the top 3 batsmen in Tendulkar, Sehwag and Gambhir to save his neck for some of his bizzare moves. These 3 are need to perform again for India to prevail over WI on Sunday. Dhoni's team selection is simple - restricted to just 2 bowlers. Zaheer & Harbhajan + Yuvraj, are automatic bowling choices. One paceman who is half decent is Patel and the choice of spin is between Ashwin & Chawla. Ashwin is more steady & experienced compared to Chawla. If the pitch is spinners one, Chawla comes in otherwise Ashwin wins.The batting order is also settled but again Dhoni's interference is amazing. Kohli is needed at #4 to provide stability. This leaves only 5,6,7 spots discretionary for Yuvraj, Dhoni & Pathan.Nehra's choice in the XI was poor let alone him bowling 50th over.Ashwin was needed for economy. Dhoni seems to lack the understanding of his players strengths & weaknesses.This is the main reason for his strange & illogical tactics.

Posted by Alexk400 on (March 17, 2011, 18:00 GMT)

Why people don't get this basic concept. It is not easy to HIT out in worldcup match compare to ODI. Normal ODI bowlers left alone to do the work. In world cup match whole team work towards same goal. So it won't be easy to hit out for sloggers like pathan unless he is playing against minnow team.

I see india lacks urgency in the whole world cup matches...may be sleep walking or may be opposition is not afraid of indian team...

The lack of fielding enthusiam will make fielders drop important catches and that will doom India.

I can see even England can win the world cup. My bet is it will be srilanka vs South africa and srilanka win it.

Posted by mak_22 on (March 17, 2011, 16:16 GMT)

BRING BACK SREESANTH....Firstly Sreesanth is a lucky mascot...and secondly the statistics of Sreesanth would have looked better if he was given the allotted 10 overs per innings like all the rest of the specialist bowlers get in his team and around the teams in the world. Please look at this statistics...... the last 7 ODI's he played - he should have bowled 70 overs like the rest of the specialist bowlers... but he was given only 50....20 overs less than what he was supposed to bowl (that's really unfair and I really hope someone will agree with me here) If every captain's decide not to give another spell after an expensive spell from a bowler, none of the great bowlers would have come this far. If India have a different attitude to bowlers compared to batsmen then we will never produce great bowlers (fast bowlers especially).

Posted by shafeek55 on (March 17, 2011, 15:52 GMT)

I think dhoni lose his confidence in batting,,,thats why he is not promoted upto the order. when India has standing players like sachin,yuvraj,dhoni.India must chose between kohli and gambhir and should give chance to raina,since he is consistent in any position and patan must be in team since he is a match winner..and despite playing with munaf and nehra should give chance to sreesanth and aswin.sreesanth is best suitable to ball with zaheer since he is a wicket taker.and aswin has been tidy in giving runs and he is also a wicket taker and can be use in power plays.good luck India

Posted by jay57870 on (March 17, 2011, 14:50 GMT)

(Contd) There's some sanity to Dhoni's method of madness. We all know the Achilles Heel is the team's bowling and fielding. And the batting lineup is arguably the best. It's also a numbers game: Just 4 bonafide bowlers in a predominant batting side. No world-class match-winner/finisher amid the bowlers. The cool captain understands the situation: He makes every effort to protect the weaker part by deflecting any criticism away from them. Why put undue pressure? Let the batsmen take the heat: They are the match-winners, the superstars. That's his psychology. And it has worked, given his track record of the past 4 years. If Sharda is suggesting Dhoni's leadership is in jeopardy, then what's the alternative? We don't have another ready-made Ganguly waiting in the wings. It takes years and years to develop good players (ask Yuvraj & Sehwag), let alone a seasoned captain (ask Ganguly). Who wants the job anyway (ask Sachin)? As somebody wisely put it: "Sanity is madness put to good uses."

Posted by jay57870 on (March 17, 2011, 14:17 GMT)

Monday morning quarterbacking - like 20-20 hindsight - is a popular pastime of sports pundits. Sharda is no exception. With her rhetorical overkill, she also shows a lack of journalistic candour. Not even a mention of Tendulkar in her long-winded (over)analysis of the current team; still she finds kind words for Dravid & Ganguly! Just 5 days earlier in "Dhoni wants top order to bat longer," she agreed: "There will be no better time for India's top order to jump-start it than against South Africa." Yet now, she offers not a word for the fantastic start of 267/2 by Tendulkar, Sehwag & Gambhir. Nor for the good stands vs. Bangladesh (152/2) & England (180/2). Why suppress these facts? Instead, Sharda second-guesses all of Dhoni's "backfiring" decisions and "illogical gambles." The reality: In cricket, as in life, there are ups and downs. Dhoni took a calculated risk with his "explosive power" but failed this time. Not by much. 296 is a decent score: Defensible, given the close finish. TBC

Posted by InnocentGuy on (March 17, 2011, 13:28 GMT)

Ok this is too much. Give this man a break for heaven's sake! Dhoni's the best captain India has had in a long time and he's brought India forward in all formats of the game. Clearly he relies very heavily on his instincts and more often than not they've paid off. Best example - Joginder Sharma final over T20 WC 2007. Just because a couple of his tricks didn't work doesn't mean he's a bad captain. Nehra was as good a gamble as any other at that time. It was not like we had someone like Umar Gul in the team and Dhoni still picked Nehra. The only thing that he didn't do that baffles me is not including Ashwin and the reason for sticking on with Chawla - team doesn't need him, he needs the team! :-S ?? Wat the? Who cares what Chawla needs? The team needs the best players to win matches and we needed Ashwin. If however, there was a deeper reason than what was said publicly, then I completely understand.

Posted by OBGINEESHKUMAR on (March 17, 2011, 12:59 GMT)

The last over in a tight match will be very crucial. Here on luck will win. Some of the Indian fast bowlers have the luck. Even though they give more run, but they will take wicket in a crucial time like last over. Sreesanth is the bowler who is aggressive while bowling has great luck than any other indian bowler. I cant understand why team management gave rest to Sreesanth in the series with New Zeland while he was in a great form. For next match... dhony i beg u to include sreesanth and aswin. Avoid Munaf and Nehra. then only u can save the match btwenn WI.. god bless u

Posted by mitgop11 on (March 17, 2011, 12:49 GMT)

well, Sharda... in hindsight, it is always easy to say that pathan decision is bad... had it worked india would have crossed 400.. it was a gamble worth taking as india had 8 wickets with less than 10 overs to go... its only that it dindt work and the other batsman didnt apply the mind according to the situation. Maybe they thought that anything less that 350 is unacceptable becasue of the start they had. Also, Nehra bowled lengths in the last over that anyone can hit... Dhoni was right to gamle in both pathan's and nehra's case... its only that the players let him down.. and dont blame MS for that!

Posted by blondblackberry on (March 17, 2011, 12:37 GMT)

the problem is not with is the bowlers.nehra,sreesanth,chawla lack in confidence that's the problem.bringing in ashwin would help along with raina who will do something special in the field if the chips are down.they may not be game changers but, have fighting spirit till death.

Posted by GrtIndia_Ann on (March 17, 2011, 12:33 GMT)

to lead a side of a nation with 1 billion selectors...each of them having an opinion that their pick is the best......must be tough for MS..

Posted by   on (March 17, 2011, 11:58 GMT)


Posted by   on (March 17, 2011, 10:44 GMT)

no comments untill u bring Ashwin & Sreesanth back in team.. for a Good Bowling side. with "" ZAHEER,SREESANTH,HARBHAJAN, MUNAf/ASHWIn"" INDIA Gonna Rock With this..

Posted by mogan707 on (March 17, 2011, 10:35 GMT)

Dhoni was an aggressive captain when he led the Indian team to a 2007 Twenty-20 World Cup.His captaincy was severely tested in the subsequent years.But until recently he lost his midas touch he carried with him when he was made captain.His glovework deteriorated a bit and then his batting and now he is seen in the team as a liability rather than an asset.Calmness and Defensive techniques crept into his captaincy and that cost him several matches.Now he is under extreme pressure to lead the present Indian team to a World Cup Triumph which has a very ggod batting unit but neither has a decent bowling unit nor an good fielding unit.Time for him to up his game in setting the right tone for other team members to follow or take a break from the game,refresh his basics

Posted by   on (March 17, 2011, 9:35 GMT)

I think Nehra was a perfect choice but it went wrong as he is the most unlucky bowler they have, he creates more chances then Zaheer which depicts that he is a better bowler then him but lacks finish(luck)

Posted by DaisonGarvasis on (March 17, 2011, 8:23 GMT)

How can Dhoni Say "Our fielding is not gonna improve, take it or leave it"??? And how can he act like a dictator and try disciplining his own player in public? Would any other captian in world cricket say things like dhoni told about sreesanth in a press conference? He has lost the plot clearly. He is talking about "curbing the instincts" and look where he has reached now with his batting. The curbing of instincts apply to him too where he simply threw the number 10 and 11 batsmen to Dale Steyn and steyn obliged by remonging both. Even after losing those quick wickets if being the Captain had he taken the strike and played the remaining 8-10 balls that would still have made the difference in the end. His batting has taken a great dip. Cant remember Dhoni playing match winning innings in the past year. His luck has run out on him in his captiacy as well.

Posted by sivakumar009 on (March 17, 2011, 7:49 GMT)

The article is based on more of personal thoughts rather than facts. Nehra is the best final over bowler but considered this world cup he is not at his best. Bajji should have bowled the 49th over and Zaheer the last over.

Posted by amsunny on (March 17, 2011, 7:39 GMT)

Give chance to Ashwin and Sreeshanth.....Let them prove that they are wicket takers......Don't give preference to your Ego and friendship......You are playing for India...Choose best players Dhoni Bhai.......

Posted by cupid02000 on (March 17, 2011, 7:28 GMT)

India not defending scores of 300s twice in the tournament does not mean that we react vigourously at time as critical as this.Indian bowling had always been like this and with players like Praveen Kumar missing , it makes the attack even weaker.The time is not right to rectify the weakness and analyse Dhoni's career here.The decision to have Zaheer bowl the penultimate over was correct as he did his job on containing runs and gave away only 4. Nehra had performed well for last few tournaments. Let's not forget that he made an exceptional comeback and a bowler in India doing this makes it even more special.Let's back the team now and lift the cup once again.This is the best time.

Posted by   on (March 17, 2011, 6:44 GMT)

The way we lost to SA, is an ideal example of, how good teams can bounce back even when they were buried in graveyard by undertakers like Sachin & Sehwag. On that day, SA was perfectly read by Sachin only, who could hold the front till 38 overs, anticipating strong bounce back of the opponent, if India loose wickets early and, was communicating the same to Gambhir throughout his innings when Gambhir was extravagant. Now, 9 wickets under 30 runs was a surprise esp when the Captain was standing on the other end witnessing half of the team coming in and going out in miniutes. Captain's fury didn't end here and goes to the last over of the inning when given it to Nehra. Well, that was a decision out of many taken by him but this time gone wrong. But, you got to give it to Dhoni as, if I remember, a similar situation when opponent ( Pakistan) required 12 runs of the last over ( T20 world cup final at SA) , Dhoni gave it to Joginder Sharma instead of Harbhajan and the rest is history........

Posted by unbiased_referee on (March 17, 2011, 6:33 GMT)

IND, from this position, have no control on proceedings--at least until SUN, when they will know exactly what not to do in a likely loss to WI. That is, how not to destruct their net run rate!! On the other extreme, if WI beat ENG in Chennai; and BAN can repeat their feat against SA they did in the last WC, IND will have motivation to beat WI on Sunday and finish at the top of the group, fixing an appointment, almost certainly with NZL in QFs and SL in the semis, and finally, with PAK in Mumbai--what a prospect that would be!!!!!

Posted by   on (March 17, 2011, 6:21 GMT)

If india won that game against SA , everyone will say good decision made by dhoni, good captain etc. come on guys lets leave the game to dhoni and co, will support and encourage them. please don't let our team down.they done it in the past. they'll do it again. I hope all criticism will go quite after a big win again West Indies. All the best dhoni & co.

Posted by   on (March 17, 2011, 5:20 GMT)

Dear Sharda... Since when did man started applying 'logic' to gambling? Right from the beginning, Dhoni was a gambler. And his unorthodox methods have won us many a matches. When a gamble pays off, you guys hail him to the hilt. When they fail... his captaincy skills are questionable?!!!! Ever heard of the LAW OF AVERAGES?!!!! Don't you think this is the time we all must shut up and trust him to do the job? For obvious reasons, it looks like Dhoni knows what he is doing.

Next time I suggest you must listen to the expert commentary while watching the match. It seems they are for sure figuring out the method in Dhoni's madness as and when the the match happens.

Posted by hardsmile23 on (March 17, 2011, 5:16 GMT)

Dhoni should go for a different bowling attack with zaheer,sreesanth, harbajan and ashwin. Munaf is not making any impact ,Nehra not in good form..let us try with sreesanth because he is a wicket taking bowler(every bowler wil have a bad day-Forgot abt bangla match , just bowled 5 overs only) so my team line up is Sachin, Sewag, Gambir, Kholi, Dhoni , Yuvraj, Yousef, Harbajan,Ashwin,Zaheer & sreesanth.

Posted by   on (March 17, 2011, 4:56 GMT)

dhoni's captaincy is given more credit than what is due. he keeps only 4 fielders in the circle for a majority of the mid overs of a one dayer. this only renders our bowlers redundant and incapable of taking wickets. india is the no 1 team in world in test cricket and it is well known and accepted that it is the bowlers who help win tests. this shows that are our bowlers are in any way lesser than any bowlers from other countries as our main bowlers zaheer and harbhajan play tests as well. it is just that the captaincy is mind bogglingly defensive in one dayers.

Posted by mits6 on (March 17, 2011, 3:42 GMT)

To those criticising the article , we all know indian team is not self motivated as it never had been . They are these people And fans who spank them for better results (although needed in limits ), 2003 WC for example . Leniency cost the later two editions of T20 WC . This article is not too offensive , and has absolutely right timing from this perspective .

Posted by kumarcoolbuddy on (March 17, 2011, 3:38 GMT)

I don't think it was bad choice opting Nehra for last over. It was Nehra's responsibility to do well (as did sometime back). Spinner is not a good choice for final overs. I dont blame him. I am not supporting him but donot want to blame him completely as well. if India had not performed well how come SA struggled till the final over (6 balls 14 runs needed) and that over turned the match to SA's side? Batting middle order failed miserably and some of the bowlers couldn't bowl upto their Stamina.

Posted by ThirdSlip on (March 17, 2011, 3:18 GMT)

Excellent article backed by some terrific research and stats. Agree that Nehra wasn't the bad gamble (limited options after all and Zaheer's 49th did help with easing the pressure on the last bowler), it was the other decisions that raise questions about MSD's reason and wisdom. Good job Sharda!

Posted by Shasank_India on (March 17, 2011, 2:09 GMT)

I fail to understand why MS Dhoni promoted Yusuf Pathan up the order the second time against South Africa, when he failed once against Netherlands. What is the need for a batting order if it can be changed in every game. I also cannot understand why the 50th over was bowled by Ashish Nehra against the South Africans. Nehra or Harbhajan could have bowled the 49th over and the more experienced Zaheer could have bowled the 50th over. Is it not?

Posted by Deepkar on (March 17, 2011, 2:00 GMT)

I support dhoni in sending pathan and last over to nehara bcoz when yusuf came to bat it was perfect time to send ur most powerful hitter it Was powerplay and only 11-12 overs reamaning and about nehara if i was captain i would have thought of giving over to my opener bowler as zak bowled good over there was nothing like batsmen were comfertable with pace but nehra bowled real bad over so what is dhonis mistake in that?

Posted by   on (March 17, 2011, 1:55 GMT)

I agree tat Dhoni has to come out of his conventional mind of play and be more aggressive than he currently is in his batting. He being the captain shud not hav lost his cool instead blaming on his teammates cos it was he who shuffled the batting order to play for the crowd. I cant see any reason y Kohli is not being sent at 2down instead of yuvraj and y Ashwin is not being played. As for as Sreesanth and nehra goes u can never decide.

Posted by   on (March 17, 2011, 1:55 GMT)

Dhoni succeeded in the past both as a bastman and as a captain through shear luck... I totally agree with the article and he should not be copared with the great captains just by his statistics.. And as it always happens the luck which was favouring him has slowly started to fade... It is just a matter of time now...

Posted by   on (March 17, 2011, 0:56 GMT)

I don't think Ashish Nehra's last over lost us the match. What about one of the previous over bowled by Zaheer where he leaked 17 runs?

We are losing matches because we are messing with our strength which is batting. How many more matches we have to play to prove that Pathan is not good in any other position than No.7. The only batsman that can really moved around is Dhoni himself. In the first 40 overs, Kohli should come in at No.3. In the last 10 overs, Dhoni or Yuvraj should come in earlier and Kohli should be pushed way down. Because Kohli has a bad mindset that he is married to No.3 position and cannot improvise.

Posted by   on (March 17, 2011, 0:37 GMT)

"Pathan and Chawla are the illogical gambles" ?? There was no Chawla in the match against South Africa.

Posted by cyberobe on (March 17, 2011, 0:20 GMT)

Well, the most important factor is nobody other than Zaheer can bowl accurate yorkers, be it Munaf or Nehra. You can't bowl juicy halfvolley balls in 50th over.

Posted by vedanthy2 on (March 16, 2011, 23:57 GMT)

Why all of you (us) blame Nehra?Dhoni gave the last over to a pace bowler "as per Formula.Nothing wrong.But Robin Peterson suddenly erupted and had Nehra smashed aeound.Blame him.This is a game where "hit hard and look around" type. So enjoy the game. By the same token,can we say,Tait and Lee should not have been used against Hiral Patel(Canada)an unknown Quantity.The boy played great cricket.Did any one see the Kenyans field against Aussies.They did a far better job than our team.The result is not important but how you played (and learnt) is.

Posted by tejseleven on (March 16, 2011, 23:09 GMT)

everyone knows that south african batsmen are not good at spin bowling. we have defended 6 runs in last over against south africa before. and tendulkar bowled that over and gave 3 runs. he should have opted spin bowling rather than pace.. bad decision by dhoni..

Posted by cric_follower on (March 16, 2011, 23:00 GMT)

Don't agree with your views. Sending Pathan was the right decision. If there 10 overs left and you are 267 for 1, you should go for the maximum!! Giving Nehra the last over was a bad decision. Why give the tailenders medium pace. Harbhajan is difficult to pick.

Posted by jugadu on (March 16, 2011, 22:32 GMT)

All Leaders have critics, yet they are the ones who have to wear the crown of thorns and take key decisions.

Harbajan has been ineffective in this world cup and as a captain, Dhoni had every right to try what he thought was the best choice at the moment. If Harbajan had given away those runs, Sharda would have found strong reasons to criticize Dhoni because he didnt pick Nehra for that last over.

Dhoni is probably one of the best captains India has ever had - period. This team doesnt have another leader in its ranks - not by a mile !

Posted by Dev_Anand on (March 16, 2011, 22:11 GMT)

@VAS4 - Did you even watch the IPL? Why would Dhoni talk negative about CSK fielding when they were basically the best feilding team in the IPL. I agree Dhoni hasn't done much with the bat and I hope it comes during the knockout stages. Regarding fielding, India need to find a way to bring Raina in. Raina seems to be out of favour with the captain. As far as bowling is concerned, Ashwin needs to play right away as he is one spinner who has the confidence to bowl in power play overs.

Posted by hardhitter71 on (March 16, 2011, 21:41 GMT)

The useful time of dhoni for Team India has expired and happens to be in past. He has forgotten how to strike the ball. You do not give strike to Zaheer Khan and Munaf Patel, if you are batting as a champion captain batsman. Dhoni will perish for less than fifty with strike rake of less then 100, even if he decides to open with Tendulkar against West Indies. He simply cannot bat against competetive teams, and that is the reason he needs to be dropped as a player. He just can not in current times, bat against Australia, South Africa, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and England, the formidable opponents. He lost his mojo of striking the ball.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 21:30 GMT)

Now no more experiments wid the team Mr Dhoni..... Keep it simple now. You should play 2 spinners and its quite an obvious choice i.e. Harbhajan & Ashwin. Zaheer and Munaf will share the pace attack. And now please listen very not shuffle the batting order unless the openers are out in 45th over. Always play Virat at two down and please donn make him play down at number 6 as it'll only lead to collapse. If theres still somethin lackin in his performance then replace him wid Raina.. Apart from this no more changes are required at all.. This is the Mantra to proceed in d tournament.. ALL THE BEST AS OF NOW n I hope u grab that trophy if u manage the team this way.. Rest depends on d Luck n destiny...Ciao

Posted by therealgibbs on (March 16, 2011, 21:23 GMT)

Dhoni is trying to please too many people rather than concentrating on wining games. Yes the crowds love the boundaries and even the commentators seem disappointed when a team does not get to 300; but you play cricket to win, whether you make 300 or 200 or 150. Playing to win means making the correct decisions, playing three seamers against a team that does not bat spin well is not a good decision. Changing around your batting order is not a good decision, if a player cannot bat lower in the order for the CAPTAIN to move up the order then that player should be dropped. India has the secon highest percentage of runs scored in boundaries. Players seem only interested in planting the ball in the stands or over the rope. What about rotating strike and turning singles into two and three runs? It is a mystery after Chawla's performances Nehra was picked ahead of Ashwin. I am neutral on the Kohli/Raina issue as to who should play, but Kohli has not performed since his 100.

Posted by Atheequrr on (March 16, 2011, 21:18 GMT)

Last over should not be given to Nehra it was a big mistake by Indian team done. How can MS Dhoni who is having lot of experience in ODI as a captain can make this kind of foolness. Wake up Dhoni and mates. This way you cannot win the cup. Captain should lead the team from front. Try to come in top order and make runs for team.

Posted by kumarcoolbuddy on (March 16, 2011, 20:34 GMT)

Ofcourse chosing right bowlers for the game is captain's responsibility but atleast in case of Nehra's last over its not fair to blame Dhoni. He might have thought its not safe to send spinner at that time. If Nehra had bowled well in 49th over (as he did in past matches) then matter wud have not been this serious. If Bhajji was given that last over and if they had smashed him too then we wud have criticized Dhoni for chosing Spinner for death bowling. We don't know what happens until it is complete. Everyone says that India's bowling is not strong but SA still struggled till the last ball. Chances were even for both the teams till the last over.

Posted by Angry_Bowler on (March 16, 2011, 20:21 GMT)

Sharda Ji, you are underestimating Dhoni, remember how he took the Mimbai Indians in Mumbai in the finals of IPL-3. Right now he seems playing carelessly, or I should say stupidly, but I tell you what, he knows how to play his cards better than any current captains in this tournament, including the punter! Just wait and watch from the next match at Chennai.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 20:03 GMT)

Completely back Dhoni and all his decisions - from giving extra match practice to chawla to promoting Pathan to giving the Last over to Nehra - his decisions have all been sound but unfortunate and without luck More than anybody else - the losses would be hurting the man himself !! Good time for us to SHOW support to our captain rather than being too critical of him i believe with Tendulkar, Gambhir and Dhoni capable of holding the innings together, there is room to leave Kohli out and bring in Raina (striking flexibility and decent bowling option) while also retaining Pathan. on the bowling front i believe Dhoni can look into the possibility of playing Khan, Harbhajan, Piyush and Ashwin as a new ball bowler (the move may bomb, but nobody wants to die for the lack of trying) But hes already made a public statement of being in principle against the 3 spinners policy simply because of the death overs bowling concerns the Indian Team has

Posted by teetay7894 on (March 16, 2011, 19:48 GMT)

since the joginder sharma v misbah gamble paid off dhoni has tried to make the magical move every time in crunch matches. he got lucky a few times but its time to stop now

Posted by Feddy on (March 16, 2011, 19:38 GMT)

Hailed him when he won across d world and doing the other when he lost against the proteas ....we have not lost the WC by asking nehra to bowl the last over. Mr.MSD has made us to smile and dance in the past with his methods and instincts. It may be nehra's mistake who failed to utilize his experience. And also MS changed the batting order which probably didnt work. He might have tried for some innovative experiments. So just stay calm....He knows what to do to make the nation proud by what he had achieved in the past. And definitely The CAPTAIN COOL will do it... All the best MSD!!!!!!

Posted by Aniruddha_K on (March 16, 2011, 19:28 GMT)

Giving the last over to Nehra and sending Yusuf Pathan up the order are understandable. Nehra has, as the writer says, bowled the last over on a few occasions for India and done the job. Also Yusuf Pathan was sent up the order in exactly the same situation(in the batting powerplay with Steyn bowling and the match being played on an Indian pitch) in the game that Sachin made 200...The only difference is that both those tactics came unstuck this time. What is not understandable,though, is his field placements. Far too many times,he has just put a fielder in a position after the ball has been hit there or just placed defensive fields and let the opposition run away with the game...the game against England for instance (It was only in the powerplay that he had to bring his men in and that's when the wickets fell) He just does not seem to put enough emphasis on taking wickets which can be done only by putting men in catching positions. He did the same in the last tests vs SA and Srilanka.

Posted by Vinayak_Damodaran on (March 16, 2011, 19:05 GMT)

Very interesting and insightful read although I believe Pathan coming up the order at number four made perfect sense given that he had the best batting numbers (in terms of average) in the recently concluded India-South Africa ODI series. Also his blitzkrieg century in the final ODI of the series when all the other Indian batsmen seemed lost, must have weighed strongly on Dhoni's mind. His decision to give Nehra the last over was a serious blunder purely because Nehra was expected to be rusty not having bowled for twelve overs and South Africans are known to struggle against spinners.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 19:05 GMT)

I agree with Kany ... It's too soon to draw so many conclusions.. something i feel people are too eager to do ....

Posted by Balumekka on (March 16, 2011, 18:59 GMT)

"Dhoni's strike rate at No. 3 and 4 is vastly better than his overall strike rate, so why does he choose to bat down the order?" A funny and silly question as it appears... Dhoni promotes himself to No: 3 & 4 given the combination of following factors: the pitch seems flat, openers have given a good start, not a chase, sufficient number of overs to left for him to get a decent score!!!!! Is there anyone could name one occasion where Dhoni came at no: 3 when openers out with a low score on board on a difficult pitch against a quality attack?

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 18:49 GMT)

Only the analysis of shuffeling the spot of Virat Kohli to Yousuf Pathan seems to be worth. And Dear Dhoni why do you bother to send Pathan for PowerPlay if he is as good player then he will fire irrespective of over and situation, which is as of now not in sight for this tournament

Posted by Reb73 on (March 16, 2011, 18:30 GMT)

The defeat against South Africa is not the be-all and end-all.. India have one foot in the Q/F's now and if it gives the players a wake-up call then I'm all for it. Better to go in to the knockout stages with expectations lowered than winning all the preliminary games.

Dhoni has done it with CSK last year - the game against KXIP in Dharamsala comes to mind - and CSK went on to claim the IPL and the CLT20 crowns. Perhaps it will be a similar formula in the WC, hopefully it is!

Posted by jrjegon on (March 16, 2011, 18:15 GMT)

@kany, I do support you that we need to let captain do his task. Maybe Sharda is over simplifying the task in hand and critizing Dhoni for SA game. But my humble request to Dhoni is not just in SA game but against England, we gave away too many easy singles and unless we had the help of England who pushed the "self-destruct" button by taking the batting powerplay, Dhoni wouldn't have made the move to bring on his best bowler (Z.Khan) with close in fields. This is where I seriously question Dhoni's Inability to take Risky decision making skills. We need Dhoni to be himself and he has the uncanny knack of doing things right @ the right time like for instance keeping Matt Hayden straight in Mid-off for K.Pollard against Mumbai Indians in the crunch final. We want the Captain Cool to be himself rather than taking ill-advised decision by some commentators/writer. He knows what he is doing. No offence to the article though.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 18:05 GMT)

Leave your ego. Get Raina, Sreesanth and Ashwin in. And send Chawla, Munaf and Nehra out of the world cup. We need a fast bowler who can bowl at death and he should be a wicket taker.

Posted by India_On on (March 16, 2011, 18:03 GMT)

While giving the last over to Nehra, Dhoni did not consider the fact that South Africa has problems playing against spinners and not fast bowlers. So, where is the method in his madness?

Posted by VAS4 on (March 16, 2011, 17:52 GMT)

It was horrible to hear the comments by Dhoni regarding the team's feilding. If the captain himself say that, then who will care??! Even if that is the truth, he was not supposed to say that. It was like giving license to the players not to field well. The team should understand that fielding is a part of the game. You cant just "not do " it. @somesh singh - Please tell me when was the last time Dhoni won a game for India with his bat?? You will need a lot of time to search and find out the answer. I would very happily blame Dhoni for the batting collapse = 9 wickets for 29 runs. Why couldn't Dhoni stick with the normal batting line up rather than shuffling it every now and then? Back to the fielding comment by Dhoni - Would he say the same about his Chennai superkings team? It seems he does not care much about what happens to India, as long as there is chennai team bidding for him. I dare Dhoni to announce in press conference that Chennai feilding cannot be improved!

Posted by nicudoc on (March 16, 2011, 17:38 GMT)

Indians are way too overconfident. I think their bowling, or lack thereof will prove to be their undoing. It is truly a shame that a country with 1 billion people has not had a genuine pace bowler of good calibre ever. To blame the wickets is not right. Look at how many good bowlers Pakistan has had and Sri Lanka as well ( Malinga). They have the same wickets on the subcontinent!!!

Posted by Legendofthegame on (March 16, 2011, 17:37 GMT)

Disagree with the writer regarding Nehra, what hasnt been ignored is Nehras most recent form - in last 6 games Nehra has taken jsut 4 wickets at economy rates ranging from 6.5 to 10.17. This is not form that the Indian think tank should beleive deserves a recall for a tough opponenet like South Africa. The logic of 3 seamers was also flawed and highlighted by the fact that the 2 SA spinners were excellent on this pitch. Dhoni nees to wake up quick lest india throw away an excellent opportunty to do weel in the World Cup, Overrriding revalation is - play the best 4 bowlers on current form, not based on some hunch, if that means 2 spinners + 2 seamers so be it. Im amazed Ashwin hasnt been given 1 opportunity yet. Zaheer, patel and harbhajan have been sound so far, the 4th bowler should be given some thought. Or alternative is to play a 5th in place of Pathan

Posted by CricUniverse on (March 16, 2011, 17:32 GMT)

This article is ill-timed and out of place. This is the time to support the national team till the tournament gets over. Once it is over, overall performance of the team can be analyzed by senior editors,journalists alike and comment. Out of place and harsh artciles like this in the middle of a high profile tournament will only bring the morale of the team down. I am sure Dhoni will not give a cent worth to what is written (most probably he may not even read it) but these type of articles should be avoided by responsible journalists.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 17:30 GMT)

Ind SA match I thought Bhajji might be a wrong choice and was glad that the choice was Asish Nehra, at first. But after 4 balls I thought and "realized" maybe Dhoni should have gone with Harbhajan. Harbhajan just starting to take wickets and looking good....Nehra's poor form...and all those things, you know. But what if Harbhajan had been whacked for 2 sixes in first 2 balls? How would the media have responded? The same thing happened in the "super over" of CL T20 against Victoria Bushrangers where Dhoni opted for Ashwin who was in good form at that moment. Maybe that was running in Dhoni's mind and that's why he opted for a seamer. I just think we should be behind and backing our team to make it to the knockouts without trouble. It's just one match and of course we were in a good position and did put up a good fight. I hope Dhoni stays cool and gives his master stroke during the WI game. And I really hope Raina gets that game.

Posted by VAS4 on (March 16, 2011, 17:30 GMT)

The last over by Nehra was unfortunate rather than a bad decision. We all can agree that Nehra did not bowl as well as we all and Dhoni wanted. I feel sorry for dhoni being criticised for that. Bad decision was sending Pathan up the order at no:3 against Dale Steyn. Kohli's dismissal was like a catching practice for the bowler and It felt like Kohli did not want to bat lower down the order and he was making a statement by getting out so quickly. Apart from that , I totally agree with sharda. I dont understand why Dhoni is not batting at no 3 , spent some time at the crease and get himself some runs. Some statements he is making at the press conferences are not going down well with the cricket fans. It is always who the team needs for the game , and not which player wants a game. Piyush is young and there is plenty of time for him to develope. I can understand Dhoni supporting his team mate, but not at the cost of the match itself. Be careful Dhoni! Watch what you say. Good luck!

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 17:30 GMT)

Too late Sharda. I have written these things in my blog ever since Dhoni lost the 3rd test in South Africa. He is an overtly defensive captain. His form as a batsman has declined in the past two years. From a prolific hitter he has converted himself to a grafter with a strike rate of 67.12(see cricinfo stats and calculate for last 20 matches). To better his average he has brought himself lower down the order such that he can keep his average better by increasing his chances of staying not out. He has purportedly not accelerated (and showed reason of anchoring) while the real reason is he is not capable of playing big shots anymore. I am surprised to see what we commoners foresaw long time ago, media representatives like you are understanding now. Remember 2001 Sharda? When u media people went after a certain Southpaw and said his average is poor in last 20 matches? He was a opener but still averaged better than Dhoni at that time when media declared him out of form.Why was it so?

Posted by GeekyCricket on (March 16, 2011, 17:18 GMT)

Sharda, there is always substance in your articles. This is by far your best article in my humble opinion. You couldn't have chosen a better header for this. It's great to see you question captain's methods.Infact, there are a lot of people who would want to ask the same questions to Dhoni. Captaincy has been less then ordinary during the world cup. Fielders look lacklustre and bowlers look hopeless and captain's field placings and bowling changes have been pathetic. You would want to see more intent from our team, they all look ragged. It took a desparate dive from sachin to lift some spirits in the previous game. I hope Dhoni is not saving all his tricks for the IPL. At the momment it's hard to say," if he is playing for the crowd or for the country". If it is for the country...Country needs more than what he is doing.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 17:12 GMT)

I have to completely disagree with the article. The point made regarding Yusuf about promoting him up the order u should remember the last time India played south Africa Pathan almost won the game for India single handedly ripping the pace apart in a bowling wicker.

I guess this is the problem with Indian people and experts they are judgmental . Dhoni has always been a gambler in the sense he weighs his cards and plays a hand most of the time it has worked out , and it is a worry that his luck is not favoring him when he needs it the most.

Posted by dipdown on (March 16, 2011, 17:11 GMT)

There was no wrong in giving Nehra the last over, neither was the decision to send Yousuf Pathan wrong. Just because India lost the match, there is so much of hullaballo... India was cruising along nicely and were just 2 down for over 250 runs... Why cant send pathan early, give him enough time and then let him play his strokes... Sharda if you r in favour of being flexible with kohli y not the same with Pathan. Is it mandatory for pathan to come only when 5 overs are left and then blast for the word go... By your logic Sehwag should never have got the chance to open for India...

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 17:10 GMT)

Please be fair enough to Dhoni for his decision to bring Nehra on the final over. It is proved previously that better a pace bowler is more useful than a spinner on the crisis period.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 17:09 GMT)

I like Virat Kohli's Batting but I guess his time would come. The current line up should be Sachin, Viru, Gautam for 1-3, Dhoni and Yuvraj for 4-5, Raina and Pathan for 6-7. Ashwin and Bhajji as two spinners and Zaheer and MUnaf as two pacers. That's all. Please don't do any further changes until the end of the worldcup.

Posted by Abhinav_Dixit on (March 16, 2011, 17:07 GMT)

Dhoni has ceased to be the explosive batsman he used to be. He struggles to hit boundaries (forget sixes) except maybe once in 6 months. Further, he is not the kind of batsman who can bat with the tail (unlike Steve Waugh of 1999). He keeps rotating the strike and exposes the tail-enders to strike bowlers.

Posted by BABULATA on (March 16, 2011, 17:06 GMT)

Hi everbody, " Sports should be sportive" A captain can take a decision of his own choice, who has to bat and bowl according to the situation. The choice opted to Nehra is correct. People are asking, why this was not given to bajji? the option went in a unity of the mind set, even a tail ender can hit sixes of spinners. The trust which was given Nehra, he really disappointed 100 crore peoples. Thats all in the game. anything can happen at any time. For god sake, past is past, dont keep the frame in mind, please come out and take a chances in big matches, show ur brilliance and kindly get back the world cup. India is only the one country have lot of fans for cricket. Proud to be Indian and get us the world cup.

Thanks, Babu latha

Posted by X-Team on (March 16, 2011, 17:04 GMT)

Simple stats:India Vs New Zealand in Quarters (whether or not England beats West Indies, and given that India will beat West Indies and Australia will beat Pakistan). In semis India will play either Australia or Lanka, and may play SA in finals... So stop worrying guys and hope for the best!!

Posted by SamRoy on (March 16, 2011, 17:00 GMT)

Sharda please be careful with your comments. Since his comeback in 2009, Nehra has taken 63 wickets in 47 innings at an economy rate of 5.92 and an average of 33.15. In the last one year (2010) he has taken 28 wickets in 20 innings at an economy rate of 5.76. In 2011 it is 4 wickets in 6 innings at an economy rate of 6.57! So how on earth do you consider him India's best ODI bowler (Yuvraj, Harbhajan and Zaheer when fit) have lot better economy rates in the ODIs last year compared to Nehra. Nehra was a very talented (yet very injury prone) bowler from 2001-2005. Nowadays he is basically rubbish unless the new ball swings prodigiously.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 16:59 GMT)

sharda ugra - any captain who thinks right would have done what dhoni did the other day. his logic was simple, the penultimate over which zaheer bowled went for only 4 runs, and that had to do as much with the fact that they batsmen were finding it hard to score off left arm paceman as zaheer's own brilliance. it was natural for dhoni to hand the ball to nehra for the same reason.

strange are the ways of cricket: joginder's last over was a bad decision, but it paid off: not many recall that misbah put pak in a winning position but threw it away. nehra's was a brilliant decision, too bad it did not come off.

it is hard to convince a critic this way. you need to be in the field of play. i am certain even today, not one of the indian players who played that day would feel that was a bad decision. not even harbhajan.

Posted by tapsy27 on (March 16, 2011, 16:56 GMT)

I didn't agree with Dhoni's decision to go with Nehra.. but so what! I think it's unfortunate that some of his plans haven't worked he thought it would... If I was the captain and Sachin and Gambhir played the way they did against SA... I would send Pathan for the powerplay.... why not... worse case if he gets out... we have the likes of Kohli, Dhoni and Yuvi to stabilize... unfrotunately our batsmen lost the plot! I don't think it was a bad decision to send Pathan... it was a bad decision on the remaining batsmen's part to lose the wickets the way they did... it was shambolic!!! I still think Dhoni' instincts is something that differentiates us from the rest

Posted by K-amps on (March 16, 2011, 16:54 GMT)

I am not an Indian.... but I can tell you from an outsider's perspective.... Appreciate him while you have him! He is special.

Posted by TimeKiller on (March 16, 2011, 16:47 GMT)

By conventional wisdom: Letting a spinner bowl the last over amounts to taking risk, whereas letting a pace bowler bowl it is 'playing it safe'.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 16:38 GMT)

Dhoni should not take mad decisons. He is a good captain but now is the time to fire.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 16:37 GMT)

Common Dhoni beleive in your batting, include a full time 5th bowler. India can still win the Cup

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 16:37 GMT)

I don't think so why people are over reacting because chawla is playing ahead of ashwin, The whole world knows Ashwin is a better bowler and is being preserved/not exposed for the crunch games.

If dhoni was stubborn, wouldnt Gary kirsten intervene ?

Posted by CricUniverse on (March 16, 2011, 16:14 GMT)

A very bad and harsh article from senior editor of Cricinfo. I would ask the writer how would she handle harsh and out of place criticism herself if she gets such criticism right in the middle of a very important examination/interview in her profession. It is extremely disappointing the way majority of indian sports journalists jump to quick conclusions and writes harsh articles. Wait until the tournament gets over, support the national team until then. That way you can help in achieving the glory the team has set for and not destroy it. The team needs support from everyone, fans, journalists..

Posted by johngalt2011 on (March 16, 2011, 16:00 GMT)

Although I admire and like Sharda's writing, I have not noticed lately that she has been overly critical of Dhoni's captaincy. Is there an agenda here or she just wants to get into the limelight of an otherwise populated cricinfo pages?

Let's not forget that cricket is a team game -- captaincy plays an important role, but not the only one. Had Ashish Nehra contained Peterson in the last Ind-SA encounter or had England not scored enough runs to seal a tie in the last over, we would be singing hosanna for Dhoni's captaincy, although the actual credit would have been due to the bowlers.

Let's wait until the world cup is over before criticizing his tactics. As a captain, he deserves to be given a 100% chance for testing his theories out. After all, they have worked in the past.

Posted by AnyoneButVettel on (March 16, 2011, 15:59 GMT)

"For the first time since his oxygen-depleting ascent, neither is Dhoni's as captain." First of all, I didn't understand it straight away. Please could any of Cricinfo's English pundit readers explain why I had to carry the essence from the line before while reading this one? Secondly, why on earth is Dhoni's place as captain not secure? What is wrong with losing one group match (in the final over)? Hasn't every team except AUS lost a group game this WC? Are we calling for every captain's head now? Harbhajan may have been a better choice to bowl the last over and on the other hand he could've been ripped apart if he did - we'll never know and there lies the reason why journos should STFU. Dhoni place unsecure - where do you get the nerve from?

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 15:56 GMT)

Is there madness in Sharda Ugra's article? Yes [Period]

Posted by maharam on (March 16, 2011, 15:51 GMT)

Come to reality. With this bowling lineup it is hard to even dream of winning world cup. Our best bowlers Zaheer Khan and Harbajan Singh are not in consistent in taking wickets. Singh more of a defensive bowler than an attacking one.All our wins are due to luck. All other teams are consistent and professionals in cricket. No one touches even 135 speed while bowling but others average speed is 140. A captain is as good as his team. Even Ponting is struggling as a captain because of the retirement of Gilchrist, Hayden, Warne and Mcgrath.

Posted by dumca.shobhit on (March 16, 2011, 15:45 GMT)

I am a great fan of dhoni just because of the way he puts things in perspective...yes it was a mistake to give nehra a bowl...and he was the first one to admit that he made a mistake. Also, his comments are not depressing but they are mere facts that we all know about...he has the guts to speak about fielding weakness and bowling disorientation. The only thing that i want to see from my captain is an aggressive approach. Luck or no luck...we will be (including every column writer) will worship him if India wins this but will make his life in case his decisions backfire...That is not fair in my opinion...Support them till the end...

Posted by Pavan_2020 on (March 16, 2011, 15:40 GMT)

I think its too critical and a bit unfair. as she concedes giving Nehra was a gamble that didnt pay off (which is understandable), the same can be said about pathan - remember he murdered SA attack that included steyn only a few weeks ago in SA, and that too at a stage where lost only one wicket and were almost into 40th over - that the time frame he generally walks in, even if he was not promoted - the collapse is what she should have been criticizing about, that too when dhoni was still around, the shot selection from Harbhajan, zaheer and munaf didnt make any sense. as far as chawla is concerned - well i think he made a choice based on insticts and C'mon, he is the captain of the indian team, he is just trying to defend his decision, but he didnot put our chances of advancing at stake for his pride - atleast not yet!! All in all - i think it was just one of those freak game, better in group stage than in knockout stage.

Posted by ShahzanHaiderBukhari on (March 16, 2011, 15:39 GMT)

Great article by Sharda!!! Team India has always been over-rated. Their weaknesses in all fields of the game have shamefully been exposed. They will exit prior to the quarter-finals. They way they lost 9 wickets on 29 runs tells alot they will be thrashed by the strong sides easily i.e. like Pakistan,Sri Lanka and Australia. The four sides deserve the WC. They are Sri Lanka, Pakistan, South Africa and Australia. These are balanced sides.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 15:38 GMT)

Sharda, don't ring alarm bells. I understand its your job to write. But a sense of timing & responsibility is expected. Sensentionalism, which serves your ego, at the cost of reason is & has been the bane of arm-chair opinionators. Its writers like you who call their own opinions as 'informed', 'logical' & out of knowledge .. but then go ahead & call the fans' & followers' opinions as ficklish & fanatic. Its writers like you who hv previleged acces to media, who first raise the tempo of favoritism & when it fizzles, go ahead & write how the fans' expectations burdened the team & hence they faltered. Be in Dhoni's position & see if you can take what u dish out. I don't say whatever you hv said is wrong .. just that it may as well be totally incorrect, just a matter of conjecture. He is the captain of the team for a reason & has got the mandate to take decisions. Trying to win both sides of the coin puts your credibility & competence in doubt.

Posted by mits6 on (March 16, 2011, 15:24 GMT)

To say Dhoni is a match winner ,i think is wrong .Yes ,Dhoni WAS a match winner , as was Agarkar in his early days . Right now he is an OK type player ( Gilchrist was a match winning WK ). Regarding average , playing down order and remaining Not out do have boosted it , and now every other descent batsman has an average above 45 . Well i do not criticise Dhoni , but blindly saying him a match winner is definitely wrong . And yes regarding talent , everyone knows after test series in SA.

Posted by Ulysses on (March 16, 2011, 15:18 GMT)

It is ridiculous to blame MSD for a couple of gambles that did not come off. Sending in Pathan when he did, or giving the last over to Nehra are judgement calls. While there can be debate about them, it is ludicrous to claim that these are "obviously wrong" decisions. Dhoni is an honest, forthright and smart captain, and the best player in the team to boot. He is the only one who can play in all 5 gears. He was the one who was left stranded at the other end while everyone else was busy committing suicide. He is the one with the best batting average in the whole team including Sachin. I think Dhoni's only mistake is not to bat up the order, perhaps at number 5, from where his calm & collected approach can control the game. For this to happen, Virat Kohli has to play at 6. I would bring in Raina at 7 and get rid of Pathan. Bhajji, Ashwin, Zaheer & Munaf complete a pretty good & balanced team.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 15:11 GMT)

Not exactly the players have to take responsibility as it is not just Dhonis cup but the entire ones too. All the players playing in the recent past have huge Experience in IPL and the time has come for every one to deliver. Dhoni should however believe in his batting skills and include one more bowler

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 15:03 GMT)

Common Dhoni believe in yourself. play 5 bowlers

Posted by mits6 on (March 16, 2011, 14:53 GMT)

They said they want to win WC for sachin , but its clear that tendulkar can win the WC for himself if others are even 70% committed . Feel sad for 38 year old genius

Posted by gani.adiga on (March 16, 2011, 14:34 GMT)

Honestly speaking, his technique is not so good to face bowlers like Steyn and morkel. he maintained his average around 50 either by batting down the order or by some good knocks on flat pitches. However he is good in his keeping.

Posted by InnocentGuy on (March 16, 2011, 14:34 GMT)

I'm a big fan of Dhoni. Like it or not, he's among the best captains India has ever had in all forms of the game. Dhoni has gambled based on his instincts many a time and more often than not they've paid off. Best example - Joginder Sharma to bowl the final over of the T20 WC in 2007. Not all well-reasoned decisions work right; neither do all instinctive decisions. We've to live with it. That said, I think his persistence with Chawla is really not good. At least for the SA game he should have given Ashwin a chance. Then again you never know what's gonna happen. If India end up winning the WC no one will even remember any of this. So lets just keep the faith and see what the boys do and reserve all criticism and complaints for later.

Posted by InsideHedge on (March 16, 2011, 14:22 GMT)

Excellent article, some really good points showing where Dhoni was correct and where he could have done better.

I personally remember seeing the celebrity ads, on Indian TV, for the 1st time in 2002 when the Champions Trophy was being held in SL. They are high on production quality but low on class. Sadly, it seems all of India is obsessed with celebrities, esp. movie stars. And this is where the public have confused the unreal world with the real world of sport. The true Indian cricket fan has been lost amongst the celebrities and their worshippers who think the matches can be scripted exactly to their wishes.

Posted by anilkp on (March 16, 2011, 14:05 GMT)

That Pathan is an explosive hitter is known to every ordinary Indian, and the ordinary thinking would be to send him up to blast the bowlers. Gamblers go for all or none, thinkers go for more or some. Do we expect ordinary, gambling decisions from as rich a thinktank as of Team India? Kohli has been batting very well at the top; but are we ready to learn any lession from history and statistics? Even the West Indies, who have now acquired their new status as a minnow, do not shuttle Pollard up and down. I would not dwell much on Nehra's last over (even as I gasped when he got the ball and started to set his field), the captain has to take a gamble at a critical juncture. But the consciuos fluidity of the batting order is no gamble, it is pure stupidity. Raina can take as many wickets as Pathan can, and can bat with a cool head too. We have options aplenty, only if the team management is willing to do some thinking and analysis.

Posted by PhilGoorha on (March 16, 2011, 13:58 GMT)

Good job, Sharda. Precisely right, I would say. I do not concur though with your reference to four earlier instances when Nehra was able to do what was needed in the last over, for reason that it is irrelevant to the present. Nehra is out of sync for lack of match practice. He was cautiously used for only few overs in the earlier game, and before that we kept hearing about his fitness in terms of percentages. You know it and I know it that when fitness has been iffy, it is rudimentary not to expect fiery spells of pace bowling. On that count alone Nehra should not have bowled the last over. Besides, you have omitted some very telling bloomer from Dhoni. He throws venom on lower order batsmen, without saying that he miserably failed in sheparding the tail. The horror of horrors was his taking a run on the first ball of the over when Zaheer was batting at the other end. I mean, what!

Posted by naveenkr on (March 16, 2011, 13:55 GMT)

I feel so good reading this, being a Ganguly fan! Ganguly would've been flattered by this article!

Posted by mrgupta on (March 16, 2011, 13:55 GMT)

I think letting Bowl Nehra the last over was justified as it is far easy to hit a spinner our of ground than a medium pacer, still we can argue it now that India has lost the match. Though i feel the match was not lost in the final over, it was lost in the India's batting powerplay. Sending Pathan against fired up Steyn just to hit was asking a bit too much. We know Pathan batted well in SA and scored century, but that does not mean that he is good enough to start hitting from ball one against the No.1 bowler. Dhoni himself or Yuvi shud have been there at that time. I dont understand why Dhoni is not pushing himself to bat higher as just months ago he was the No.1 ODI batsmen. For India to do well in this WC Dhoni has to understand his position in the team batting order. Our Bowling looks messed up. Other than Zaheer and Bhajji nobody is looking like making any progress. I hope a Win against WI can bring back some enthusiasm in our players who were looking down after the last match.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 13:45 GMT)

Dhoni can bat at any number. Even he can open in Indian conditions. But, not overseas. Players like Dhoni, Yuvraj doesn't have the traditional defense technique. Kohli, Gambhir have better techniques than Dhoni. So, Dhoni can bat no.3 in Indian conditions; yet, that leaves Gambhir and kohli to bat at no.5 or no 6 which they cant do...So, always the best batting order is 1. Sehwag 2. Sachin 3. Gambhir 4,5. Kohli/Yuvraj 6. Dhoni 7. Pathan....

Posted by shrastogi on (March 16, 2011, 13:43 GMT)

I agree with Sharada that Pathan & Chawala were not good choices and I also feel that Dhoni should try to bat himself up the order. Gary Kirsten has done very well as the coach but his influence in one dayers iseems limited. India team doesnt seem to have a plan B or C and it isnt just Dhoni's fault. The way batsmen in match against SA batted showed a lack of planning and instructions. Perhaps a Virat Kohli thought that after 5 down he can still take India to 340 and lower order didnt have faith in Dhoni to get a few more runs. India should win against WI rather than hope for other factors as on paper they are better. Pathan should be rested and Raina should be played and Ashwin must get a game instead of Nehra. All the middle order batsmen should be prepared to play at any spot. No 4 is not sacrosnct for Kohli. He has to learn to adapt. Dhoni shouldnt be berated for a few bad calls but if he admanant then there would be problem.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (March 16, 2011, 13:37 GMT)

I wish the media would leave Dhoni for after the World Cup. It does not matter what he does during the World cup as long as India finishes creditably. It is quite clear that our team has not been selected as many would have liked, but MS Dhoni has to ake do with the personnel he has on hand. For instance, if Praveen Kumar had been available, our bowling may not have looked as inadequate as it has reportedly been. Then again if the off the cuff changes in the batting order had worked we would have been talking about how good Dhoni's judgement has been. We live in a fickle world. Ready to bandy about our eloquence to praise even if it is inconsistent. When VVS Laxman took us to victory in Sri Lanka in the 3rd Test and against Australia at Mohali, people have bought dictionaries to be the best in praising a genius who has always been the same.It should not be the same now. Win or lose, let us stop writing about Dhoni till the Cup is over We may just be eating our hats if such bets are on.

Posted by rohandb on (March 16, 2011, 13:34 GMT)

OK, Gambhir has an excellent record at 3. Kohli has done well at 4 and is suited best for that spot. How in hell can Dhoni go in at 3 or 4? How can everybody go up the order?

Posted by NavalPatel on (March 16, 2011, 13:00 GMT)

When criticising his lower order batsmen, with justification, Dhoni should also answer why he so frequently takes singles early in an over and exposes the feebly capable tailenders to the attack of opposing fast bowlers, instead of "farming" the strike as long as possible himself.

Posted by Keralite10 on (March 16, 2011, 12:51 GMT)

Dhoni's comments are not to worry, different captains have different style and this is Dhoni's style. Him being outspoken about his own team mates will only bring professionalism to the indian team which they very much lack barring SRT. Exclusion of Suresh Raina is very much worrying. Why do we need Kohli at no.4 when we have batting heavy weights like SRT, VS, Gambhir, Yuvi and Dhoni. We need Suresh Raina who can go after any bowling in the world on the dead(little embarassed to say that, being an indian) indian pitches in the death overs. And, Kohli has proved he can't bat at any other position down the order because he needs time to settle down. What if SRT, VS and Gambhir bat for 35-40 overs. Kohli will end up not batting and we are wasting a place in the team, remember Raina is good fielder and bowler. Bring Raina on, he has played at no.3 in T20 and scored century against SA in WI, played at no.3 ODI against Pakistan in Pakistan (Asia cup, 2008) and he plays at no.6 as well

Posted by ThanveerAN on (March 16, 2011, 12:34 GMT)

I think dhoni is not a best captain that india had in the past... He ia a succesful captain from past four year means , surely the players he is having from past years is soo good and all of them are playing their best level for their nation... thats why india is wiinning continously not by dhoni. and more importantly master blaster is palying suprrbly....

in fact , you note one thing... dhoni's batting.... i think its worst from past one year he is not playing a good cricket and he not playing to his potential...

if india has to win this world cups means, dhoni have to rectify his captaining errors and his batting errors......

Posted by JD04 on (March 16, 2011, 12:27 GMT)

At the beginning of the World CUp, Dhoni had emphasized on the process itself, i.e. doing the basics right. Now, the team, especially the bowling and fielding departments need to focus on that more than anything! Bowling to the field, throwing up some yorkers in the end overs... simple basics needs to be done better, specifically in the last 15 overs of both innings! Good Luck Team India. - Joydeep M

Posted by HashimG on (March 16, 2011, 12:05 GMT)

It seems that Dhoni is loosing his lucky charm these days..He was riding on his luck & Indian team was reaching greater heights..But Its Ability that lasts and not the luck. I think its time India needs to look for a future captain who is aggresive , thoughtful & not rely only on Instict like Dhoni does...May be VIrat Kohli can be an option..Is Somebody listening..

Posted by cond_cool on (March 16, 2011, 11:56 GMT)

We should cheer up our team..

Posted by rmkmurali on (March 16, 2011, 11:40 GMT)

I think people have been very critical about our players. Our players are under immense pressure and we should back them rather than criticizing them. Yes, we did lose the game. But we fought it till the end. This is the best bowling attack we have at present and we have to back them. Our team is trying their best to bring the cup. Lets support them.

Posted by arvin on (March 16, 2011, 11:15 GMT)

not only as a captain but in recent times dhoni is a failure with the bat as well... his ave of 48 is more coz he likes to remain not out by scoring 15-20 runs at a strike rate of 50 without any concern for team... even in last match he exposed nehra by taking a single of first ball of steyn's over... coz dhobi himself wanted to stay not out...

Posted by nikhildevdesai on (March 16, 2011, 11:11 GMT)

I understand sending Pathan early because he has done a good job recently against SA, remember the recent series last month in SA. But others played poorly. Kohli gifted his wicket and Yuvi should have never played that shot. The tailenders were even trying to hit it out when they should have taken singles to support Dhoni. I think Raina should be given a chance, instead of Pathan or Kohli, i know they have both played good but Raina deserves a chance. Chawla should not be picked again in this tournament, we cannot afford the gamble, but Ashwin should be given a chance.

Posted by shakersid on (March 16, 2011, 11:11 GMT)

Too harsh. Dhoni has all the required characterestics of a good captain. A couple of mistakes do not make him a bad captain. Also, Dhoni has always tried to instill confidence in his players, and that has usually paid off. (Once, R Ashwin mentioned that he had been given the ball first change just a match after begin hit for 22 in an over in the IPL. That paid back big time). Dhoni might not be the greatest tactician but he is a very good man manager. Who knows, Chawla might be needed in one of the knock-out games, due to injury to Ashwin or Bhajji.

Also, sending Pathan was a calculated risk because 1) during india's innings the pitch did not seem to be stopping (partly because of Tendulkar and Sehwag!) and 2) had the remaining batsmen played sensibly we would have easily scored 320. And had Pathan worked, 350 would have been on the cards

Posted by stormy16 on (March 16, 2011, 10:57 GMT)

I am not sure if this article really captures the reality. Dhoni has been a great captain and batter and he made a few calls in the WC that didnt go his way and I honestly dont see the need for this sort of reaction. Also India's issues have been with its bowling and not the batting so line up and batting order I dont think are real issues. I thought sending Pathan in against SA was a good move - sure it didint pay off and Pathan will not all the time but that's part of the bargain. Even bowling Ashish was reasonable - he just bowled rubbish - not much Dhoni can do about that.

Posted by natasrik on (March 16, 2011, 10:53 GMT)

Nothing wrong in what dhoni has said in post match presentation. When you have captain standing at the opposite side it was ridicules of players slogging without any c'sense. Infact this has been the case against Eng and now against SA. Our Sachin in both the matches played in and gifted his wickets with wild stroke, his duty is to carry on till the end once he reached his personal milestone of century. I would also blame Gambhir for that matter he played so slow and it is immaterial if he catch up latter with the strike rate, he and sachin against Eng in particular already played lot of dot balls. Dhoni definitely was wrong when he bowled Nehra, infact cricketing sense will definitely say Harbhajan being the pick of the bowler (against SA) after Zaheer should have bowled the last over. Infact I would have bowled Harbhajan the 49 and Zaheer the 50 Over.

Posted by ANIL777 on (March 16, 2011, 10:50 GMT)

Dhoni's comments are really to be appreciated. Dhoni we have still Faith on you that this world cup will be INDIA' s

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 10:34 GMT)

Let me qoute something that dhoni itslef keeps saying and strongly beleives in "Everyday is a new day and everygame is a new game"...well said dhoni, but it is pretty agonising that dhoni itself has failed to live by it in the recent past.It is well known fact that dhoni has not performed well as a player neither his instinctive skills which fetched him a lot of accolades has stopped working blame it on the pressure from the crowds or the stronger opposition. Dhoni must find his lost form with the bat as soon as possible, he should take responsiblity coming up the order against WI, he must step up and start performing to his abilities there is just one league game and he can't afford take much time to settle which might cost us something unrepairable.Men in blue really need an inspiration now and it can very well come from MSD's batting against the WI. One can't rest on laurels and what we did in the past reamins history...again well said MSD, Live by it!!!!

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 10:22 GMT)

The fact is that India have a pretty ordinary bowling attack. Two good (although overrated) bowlers - Zaheer and Harbhajan, and nothing else. They try to tip the balance with an extremely good batting line, but it doesn't always work. India won't be able to defend anything under 320-330 against a good team with this bowling attack (except against Pakistan - around 250 should be enough)

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 10:10 GMT)

Admittedly MS Dhoni is good and there is no question about it. But when it comes to leading the team he has been relying more on taking gambles than normal prudence backed by some instinct. I donot blame him giving Nehra the last over, which people are saying costed us the match, I do blame him for bringing in Pathan in place of Kohli and there by completely making a mess of the batting order the Indian team is used to. How he is forgetting that it was Virat Kohli who was the biggest run getter in ODI s few months back and his performance was outstanding against South Africa. Further Pathan has been excelling all these days( see his record) when he has been coming late in the batting slot. I blame MS Dhoni for precipitating a debacle by topsy turvying the batting order for no rhyme or reason especially when Tendulkar and Sehwag alogwith Gambhir such a rollicking start. According to me it was a very pedestrian kind of captaincy on the part of DHONI. I sincerely hope that he learns fast

Posted by NRI- on (March 16, 2011, 10:05 GMT)

How can everyone bat in the top 3? Gambhir, Dhoni, Kohli are all capable of hundreds if allowed to settle in and then push up the strike rate. Even Pathan, Yuvraj & Raina will bat longer & better on average if not coming in in the last 10 overs. So the team has to decide...who are the best top 3? It has been decided - Sachin, Sehwag & Gambhir are least likely to get out early while keeping a good strike rate and scoring high. It's all about probabilities. Just before the world cup, Kohli batted beautifully...but if he comes in 6 or 7 there is no point in taking him, he does not bowl or start with a 200 strike rate. If Dhoni is to bat at no 4, Raina should replace Kohli - he can bowl and he can accelerate from a stop start position. They can try this against WI. Nehra is just out of form so either Ashwin or Chawla can replace him. Try Ashwin against WI as an opening bowler with Zaheer. Let's see what happens, India is in the quarters anyway.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 9:54 GMT)

The indian team always thinks that they are getting "30 free hits" (Batting Powerplay) in every match.The captain also backs this.Its a fact that when a tie occurs under dhoni's captaincy, the team wins the final and cup.( Eg:- world cup T20, Champions league 20-20) But I dont know what happens this time.Dhony must realize that this a time to end his experiments in Batting order.Put an extra bowler in place of a batsman.(may be sreesant).Nehra is not a fit man for final crucial overs.

Posted by bramville on (March 16, 2011, 9:51 GMT)

In reply to Somesh Singh... If what you say is true, then why didnt Dhoni promote himself up the order and score a few fast runs and increase India's score to a total the South Africans couldnt reach ? well the answer is that you cannot win a match by just have world class batters. You need a fairly good bowling side too, to defend the runs you have put on the board. And everyone has seen..until this stage of the WC, that India doesnt have the bowling that can win them matches.

Posted by sivakirankalaga on (March 16, 2011, 9:19 GMT)

We have seen the situations where Dhoni moved himself to the top order when first 3 or 4 batsmen failed to do their job. If openers did well then he wants to give chance to other players. Indirectly he wants to play like a batsman who can handle the situation under pressure. Like Laxman for the test matches. But for one day internationals we do not have. Even Sachin rarely handles pressure situations. So he wants to fill that gap by himself. That is why he changed his batting style and position in the batting order. Indial has so many better captains like Ganguly and CapilDev. Dhoni is not better, he is the Best. I know that this post is not going to be published. But still i want to report this to the Senior Editor who has written this article. I will be happy if this message has gone to atleast one person.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 9:14 GMT)

This is SO typical of people...whenever India wins a match well Dhoni is amazing, one of India's best captains, so awesome etc. When India loses a match, though, there's something wrong with his captaincy. His remarks may be clueless sometimes, but he is one of the most entertaining men in the cricket world. Perhaps Dhoni doesn't bat up the order because there are BETTER people that can bat there?

Posted by krazzyking on (March 16, 2011, 8:57 GMT)

Dhoni's comments have been really depressing at times. Like the time he admitted that fielding cant be improved. It may be the given reality but is an unfortunate statement to make.

Posted by kany on (March 16, 2011, 8:56 GMT)

too critical sharda!! its easy to word it sitting in a room, but on field is a different pen or typing skills!!! Let him do what he is doing and let the world cup get over before any such article is published. we needs to support the team and stand with it

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 8:52 GMT)

Just like he seems to have become more risk averse I'm his batting he probably should take clues from himself and not experiment much, especially with the batting line up. If the batting order was not tinkered with and we ended upnwith a huge score, the Nehra decision would indeed have just gone down as a bad over rather than a bad decision to bowl him - cos India would have won defending a far higher score.

Posted by Shreeshh on (March 16, 2011, 8:49 GMT)

Yes, In last 12 important matches he average 14; If others contribute he can win.

Posted by Raju_Iyer on (March 16, 2011, 8:39 GMT)

Thanks Sharda for doing a great service by reminding everyone that Nehra was NOT a bad choice for the last over. However I disagree with your views that the Chawla and Pathan moves were doomed to tank. The same Pathan blasted us to victory from a hopeless situation against the same SA attack just a few matches ago. As for Chawla, if you can't try him out against Netherlands, well you are basically consigning him to the bench so early in the tournament. Why should Dhoni come in at No. 3 when the team is packed with batters? At the end of the day the team is only as good as its members are.

Posted by abhi_dns on (March 16, 2011, 8:34 GMT)

Yes 48.79 to be precise. But same avg dives down to 24.56 in icc events. And if u ignore his efforts against weak associate teams, he averages 17.86 against test-playing teams in icc events.

Posted by colourworldsiraj on (March 16, 2011, 8:24 GMT)

I totally agree with your opinions. India should have taken the batting power play as when Tendulkar wished. Because he knows the situations better than those who sit in the pavilion. Every indian want to win this world cup. So we pray for the better performances from our team India...

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 8:19 GMT)

dhoni is totally a fluke captain....not only about giving nehra the final over against SA...even in the t20 WC which we won he tossed the ball to joginder sharma who was bowlin gonly fulltosses and half was totally a mindless tactic,...but luck worked out his way and a bad shot from misbah costed Pakistan the world cup

Posted by controcric on (March 16, 2011, 8:17 GMT)

I think ppl should think their ideas through before they suggest it to someone. If Dhoni was to bat at number 3, where would Gambhir bat? If he was to bat at number 4 what about Kohli? I cant see Kohli or Gambhir batting at 5 or 6. It would upset the balance of the team. The real problem is our bowling and fielding not the batting order. If we can notch up scores of almost 300 every match and still fail to win i think we need to look at our bowling

In my opinion, players like Nehra and Munaf should not even be picked. They are not athletes, hence they do not deserve to play professional sports. It is like a high school drop out wanting to be an engineering prof. Besides, It is not like they are match winners anyway

Every fast blower that comes to the Indian team, plays for a bit, looks like they have great potential. However, after a year or 2 their pace drops, accuracy drops and they just fade away into oblivion. Irfan pathan is a good eg of that. So there is something wrong there

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 8:16 GMT)

Have patience guys ..One loss and all hell breaks out !!

Posted by ganeshraam on (March 16, 2011, 8:14 GMT)

this is a well written article after a long time and it clearly explains what are Dhoni's shortcomings and his past decision making skills... Way to go Sharda Ugra

Posted by Sreerang on (March 16, 2011, 8:13 GMT)

The article seems too soon. Also, to call it a brand building captain cool persona is belittling his achievements over the past few years. He has shown an admirably mature and calm head and performed with distinction, both, as a batsman and as a captain. The team has achieved a lot in the last three-four years. And when for the first time when a few things don't work out, to pull out the daggers is unfair, if not mean. Giving Dhoni the benefit of doubt, maybe he is just trying out all options(personnel, batting order, death bowling etc) before the knock out phase. After all India has lost only one game yet. Here's hoping Dhoni knows what he is doing and comes up trumps when it matters.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 8:12 GMT)

MSD's captaincy skills will be more under scrutiny if India does not win WC. I know I am being pessimistic at this time but it has been Sachin, Sehwag. Gambhir and Zaheer that have attributed his success so far. Can he do it once Sachin leaves the cricket world? Remains to be seen.

Posted by ram_sachin on (March 16, 2011, 8:04 GMT)

Wake up and smell the coffee Dhoni.. Its high time we start delivering things on field rather than making nuisance comments off the field. The whole country is looking upto you, and as always, backing you. Commmon India

Posted by indianpunter on (March 16, 2011, 8:01 GMT)

Dhoni has always been obstinate. But, till now, he had results to back him. Once that wears thin, so will public patience. Persisting with the likes of Jadeja and Chawla, not giving Ashwin a chance.. all these show that Dhoni is trying to send a message that he is his own man. He is better served if he realises that he is no Imran Khan, and has not won any significant ODI crowns for India.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 8:00 GMT)

Even who doesn't understand Cricket will understand why Dhoni is on the non striker end letting Tail enders face the SA fury .

This shows what a player he is , in recent times I never saw him score good

Posted by sweetspot on (March 16, 2011, 7:59 GMT)

Sharda, now are we to believe that one of the most successful captains in the world, a respected leader of men and a wonderful tactician, actually has a chink in his armour? Truth is, many warriors have many chinks in their armour, but it doesn't matter in the ultimate analysis - they're good enough warriors to win most battles. In trying to hone Dhoni into a master tactician, let him not lose what comes to him naturally. He has kept this campaign uncomfortable for his team by INTENT, both his and Kirsten's. We all know how our boys can get if they start winning too easily. EVERY single match India played upto now in this WC, it could have won easily IF there had been no experimentation. Letting Bhajji bowl the last over may not have been the RIGHT decision either. But letting Dhoni do his job takes just knowing what he is made of. He is nobody's fool. He is testing his horses out, and in the 2nd half of this WC we will see how good our team really is. Till then....!

Posted by agamgoyal on (March 16, 2011, 7:58 GMT)

Good article . Sharda Ugra has rightly pointed out certain things 1. The fact that No Real Match Winners have emerged in Dhoni's Captaincy unlike Ganguly. 2.The whole instinctual based unconsciously driven theory to make decisions which are not working now. 3.The calm and reasoning demeanor.... A leadership style or a just a Defense Mechanism?? There are several other things which bespeaks of his strange methods ....and the fact that he has been lucky with them till date ...but now it seems that the luck is fleeing away.... But still a die hard Indian cricket fan ...I would still love to see India lifting the world cup ....for that I hope he just continues to be lucky for some more days :)

Posted by Losers1234 on (March 16, 2011, 7:55 GMT)

END of MS Dhoni is very near

Posted by nskaile on (March 16, 2011, 7:49 GMT)

I hope this gets post here - Well im not a Dhoni fan BUT what could one do when u have BOWLERS (Which are supose to be fast but cant bowl faster then Bhajji) like Nahera and Munaf as a striker bowlers? Even Ireland and Holland got better bowlers then them. And had Dhoni given tht last over to Bhajji and gone fo as many runs as Nahera did then all you ppl were gonna say things like DIN'T HE LEARN ANYTHING FROM Afirid's mistake in T20WC semi final where he gave last over to spinner & Hussy smashed him all over the park, Why dint he go fo Nahera when he had over left? Main question should be what were the other 7 batsman doing after Sachin and gauti got out? India should have reached 350 EASLY but noone, not even this writer is talking about tht BUt that ONE last over of NAHERA!

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 7:49 GMT)

but anyone remember or know when was the last time he won a match for india with this batting (dont say the warmup match against NZ)??????????

Posted by PienkZuit on (March 16, 2011, 7:46 GMT)

Dhoni is tactically extremely naive. Combine that with India's tendency to choke under pressure, and they have no chance in this World Cup. India won't make it past the quarter finals.

Posted by BudhaWillSmile on (March 16, 2011, 7:46 GMT)

Failure has no fathers.. This the apt statement to current situation of team India. Dhoni's innovations has failed in this WC .

Getting Piyush chawla in was seen as master stroke when he demolished Aussie batsmen in Practice match. But then when he failed against England and others then people started asking why ?

A lot of people wanted to give Yousuf batting practice when opportunity was given he failed.

What if Harbhajan was given the last over and still SA won. Then same people will say that Ashish Nehra should be given the over.

Posted by shaan_write2me on (March 16, 2011, 7:38 GMT)

I dont comment about Dhoni's captaincy but as a batsmen, he is failing very oftenly. And just to give you a jist of what happened in the last match against SA, being the captain (ofcourse a good batsmen) should take most of the strike when your team is 6 wickets down. Instead, he facing the first ball took single and exposed both Harbhajan and Nehra to the bowling lights of STEYN... Disgusting...

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 7:37 GMT)

bring sreesanth baack......

Posted by Ganes.V on (March 16, 2011, 7:36 GMT)

Wonderfully summed up article. Good read

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 7:34 GMT)

That he gave last over to nehra is in line with his instinctive method, and no qualms about it, but the way he exposed nehra and thereby munaf to stein while batting was completely wrong, was he underestimating stein or overestimating batting skills of nehra. And yes, internalizing the messages would be quite good. There is no need for us to know how he feels about Sree or how sree should behave or why ashwin is mentally stronger....being Captain of Team India, it is his responsibility that he fields the best 11, irrespective of his personal bias......

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 7:33 GMT)

a grossly exaggerated article.. 2 words: msd rocks..!!

Posted by analyseabhishek on (March 16, 2011, 7:33 GMT)

Dhoni has been under enormous pressure in this WC and that has been showing. An Indian fan like me only wishes he could go through a few matches quietly- just the way it had happened in 2007 20-20 WC- so that the team could explode at the right moment. However, that is not happening and along with a gamble on Piyush Chawla that has already gone wrong, Dhoni has looked to lose his composure. Let's hope things become ok and he manages to get an uncluttered head.

Posted by MAKKO on (March 16, 2011, 7:30 GMT)

Its about time we heard some positive criticism of Dhoni, till now everyone worshipped him. He is overrated as a player and as a captain

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 7:30 GMT)

Dhoni's ego is costing the team big time. There are certain things he is doing just to prove a point. The first being the continuous sidelining of Ashwin. He was the no.1 bowler in the New Zealand ODI series, during when Chawla was nowhere in the picture. Out of the blue Chawla comes in as first choice and gets whacked in all the matches he played hurting India badly. Second his reluctance to bat up the order. Third persistence of Nehra. I dont blame him giving him the final over. But I certainly dont agree about his place in the XI. Dhoni has a history of stubborn persistence even In IPL. He ignored Thissara Perera (who is now a key player in Lankan XI) and the persitence of Hayden. The list goes on. Dhoni is persisting all the above decisions just to prove that he was never wrong. And that could make the difference between a place in semis or not.

Posted by gjoshi88 on (March 16, 2011, 7:29 GMT)

@ Somesh Good avg doesn't means a good player,its been an year since he lastly scored a century nor he has played some good aggressive innings

Posted by Brad717 on (March 16, 2011, 7:27 GMT)

Excellent Article that I have read in recent times. We need more articles like this. And Dhoni and Co should read these. Dhoni seems to have become little headstrong these days. Taking wrong decisions is one thing, but defending them is another thing. Dhoni's defense of choosing Piyush Chawla and the reasoning that batsmen played for crowd are very lame and defies logic. Crowd never wanted team India to collapse like that. So, I don't get which crowd is he referring to. And the same crowd never asked him to play that slow either. Nehra has been clearly out of form since the beginning of warm up matches. He has been conceding about 7 or more per over regularly. So, giving him the last over reflects a Captain who is lost within himself. Wake up Dhoni. Show your funny and Optimistic side, like you used to when you won the T20WC. May be you need to grow your hair back. If not for Tendulkar and Laxman he wouldn't have won as many matches as he did since he has been captain

Posted by srswamy on (March 16, 2011, 7:26 GMT)

I am one of the die hard fan of Team India.... But can any body please tell me the number of runs scored by Mr. Cool in the last 5 mathces and his tactics being used. I am surprised to see Dhoni still in the Team India as against Raina... When RAINA can sit out, then why cant he.... who cares even if he is a captain when he does not perform for Team's cause... :(

Posted by Karunk on (March 16, 2011, 7:26 GMT)

Dhoni is a lucky captain. Has survived till now using his instincts than cricketing brain which he lacks. Can't continue like this when others are smart with their skills and tactics. India should start developing Virat Kohli to take over captaincy and Dhoni should play as a wicket keeper/batsman. He can contribute more to the team and India with his helicopter shots than as a captain. Instincts may work once in a while but sound cricketing brain will help on the long run.

Posted by Sreerang on (March 16, 2011, 7:25 GMT)

Maybe this article is too soon. Also to call it a brand building captain cool persona is belittling his achievements. He has done a good job over the years, has shown a admirably mature & calm head and the moment some things don't work out, to pull out the daggers is unfair, if not mean. To give Dhoni the benefit of doubt, maybe he is just trying out all options(in personnel, batting order, death overs etc) before the knock out phase begins? Let us believe that he knows what he is doing, for after all India has lost just one match yet.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 7:24 GMT)

making mistake is human nature... one should learn from it... there lies smartness.. dont do this same mistake in upcoming matches... remove pattan and kohli... go for ashwin and raina.... try this idea in west indies match..

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 7:24 GMT)

timely article it is. by default, Dhoni knows the best. hope he does. hope hei knows what he is doing. as for me, with this mediocre set of bowlers, who happen to be even worse tail-enders, and worst of all - horrible fielders, there is not much to hope or cheer for. better back to work.

Posted by aab2c3 on (March 16, 2011, 7:21 GMT)

Indeed exclent and logically proved article. Really sucess has many fathers and failure is orphan:Its the same Dhoni who gave Jogndra Singh the final over in 20-20 Worldcup final and the rest is history and at that time no one questioned the gamble.

India has not performed so badly: these bowler keep the much hyped S.A bats man at bay till 49 overs but it was there day....It will not happen always so keep patience.

Posted by vicky01021985 on (March 16, 2011, 7:18 GMT)

1975: Eng won 1st, NZ won 2nd 1979: WI won 2nd , NZ won 2nd SL won 1st 1983: Ind won 1st against WI, Aus won 1st, WI won 1st, Ind won 1st against Aus, Ind won 2nd Against Eng,Ind won 1st against WI 1987: Aus won 1st,Ind won 1st aginast NZ,Ind won 1st against Aus,Ind won 2nd against NZ,Eng won 1st. 1992: ENg won 1st,Aus won 1st,WI won 2nd,NZ won 2nd 1996: Ind won against WI 2nd,Aus won 1st,SL won 2nd,SL won 1st 1999: Ind won 1st against SL,Ind won 1st Against Eng,Aus won 1st,NZ won 2nd 2003: Ind won 1st Against SL,Eng,Ind won 2nd Against NZ,Pak,AUs won 1st n 2nd 2007: ban won 2nd,SL won 1st 2011: Ind won 1st against ban , Eng tie

*Excluded the SA and PAK Matches


India's performance batting first and second in worldcup Against top ODI Teams:Excluded Zimbabwe

Ind 1st bat lost 1 won 2 2nd bat lost 6

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 7:14 GMT)

Dear Sharda,

Thanks very much for the article. I am die hard fan of Indian cricket but am objective unlike many others. I believe I have a good cricketing acumen and would be happy if this message can reach Dhoni. The plan that I am suggesting is probably the best bet and can help India win the world cup provided the execute it on the field.

India should pick Suresh Raina as he can bat down the order and utilise the slog overs as well bat normaly(defensively) if we loose early wickets. We don't need Virat Kohli at no.4 as Dhoni should bat up the order and Yuvraj and Raina can come at 5 and 6. Pathan can come at 7. Raina will offer an additional option in bowling. Virat Kolhi good form has actually upset India's balance. He can't bat down the order as was evident in his failure against England and SA. When Dhoni bats up the order he invariably scores big. Please pass this onto Dhoni may be through Harsha. I wish India all the best.

Many thanks, Sanjeeb

Posted by X-Team on (March 16, 2011, 7:12 GMT)

I agree. one good point Sharda raised is that how many match winners we have produced in recent past (under Dhoni's captaincy)? none. When Saurav was captain India produced Harbhajan, Yuvaraj, Kaif, Dhoni himself, Zaheer to name few... India's test success is reflection of likes of Sachin, Dravid and Laxman performing consistently well...... Not only batsamans but bowlers will help india reach world cup final. India reached 2003 world cup final because of consistent performance by Shreenath, Zaheer and Nehera Do we have bowlers to defeat scores or to help teams restrict? No.

Posted by vicky01021985 on (March 16, 2011, 7:11 GMT)

1975 Eng won 1st, NZ won 2nd 1979 WI won 2nd , NZ won 2nd SL won 1st 1983 Ind won 1st against WI, Aus won 1st, WI won 1st, Ind won 1st against Aus, Ind won 2nd Against Eng,Ind won 1st against WI 1987 Aus won 1st,Ind won 1st aginast NZ,Ind won 1st against Aus,Ind won 2nd against NZ,Eng won 1st. 1992 ENg won 1st,Aus won 1st,WI won 2nd,NZ won 2nd 1996 Ind won against WI 2nd,Aus won 1st,SL won 2nd,SL won 1st 1999 Ind won 1st against SL,Ind won 1st Against Eng,Aus won 1st,NZ won 2nd 2003 Ind won 1st Against SL,Eng,Ind won 2nd Against NZ,Pak,AUs won 1st n 2nd 2007 ban won 2nd,SL won 1st

Ind 1st bat lost 1 won 2 2nd bat lost 6 Aus Ind 1st bat lost 3 SA Ind 1st bat lost 1 won 2 2nd bat lost 3 SL Ind 1st bat lost 4 won 1 2nd bat won 2 NZ Ind 1st bat lost 2,won 2 2nd bat lost 1,won 1 WI Ind 1st bat won 2 tie 1 2nd bat lost 3,won 1 Eng Ind 1st bat lost 1 won 1 Ban IND 1st bat won 3 2nd bat won 1PAK

Posted by KCKCKC on (March 16, 2011, 7:10 GMT)

Excellent article! Its the obstinacy that will lead to his down fall. He tends to stick to a plan even if it's not coming off. There's never a plan B. I also feel the length of his tenure has led to him being cynical about the ability of the guys in the side. He frequently says the bowling and fielding are rubbish. Instead of addressing the issue by training the slow fielders to be close in catchers he prefers to give away the extra run in the out field. As for bowling, Sreesanth is a mad cap but he's the only guy who swings it at 140 odd. He might go for a few but he gets you wickets. But Dhoni has decided he's beyond redemption. He should see how Brearley looked after Beefy or the Chappells looked after Lillee. They know a thing or two about madcaps. Unfortunate Dhoni is heading this way, because there really isn't a comparable guy in the vicinity.

Posted by randikaayya on (March 16, 2011, 7:07 GMT)

I can't bring myself to think that dhoni is playing safe. He seem to be at the crux of all action at all times. Maybe thats just an outsiders perspective. He certainly is more upfront than the likes of Sachin and Dravid, therefore not as well liked elsewhere, such as Sri Lanka.

Posted by VincentSunder on (March 16, 2011, 7:03 GMT)

" It is what Dhoni's modus operandi has always been: to speak directly, briefly and non-confrontationally to players" Would Sreesanth agree to that???

Posted by VipulPatki on (March 16, 2011, 7:02 GMT)

Can we all defer all the brickbats till the World Cup is over? I mean, just as Dhoni may be guilty of trusting his instincts a bit too much, journalists are guilty of over-analyzing India's loss to RSA. It's not as if this is the first time Nehra has been asked to bowl the final over and it's also not the first time a boundary early in the final over has sealed the fate of a match.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 6:57 GMT)

as for "Dhoni's strike rate at No. 3 and 4 is vastly better than his overall strike rate, so why does he choose to bat down the order?"

Dhoni is smart. He bats as Dhoni Season I (Slam, bam, thank you Deepika) when there is someone down the order after him. Like Yusuaf Pathan.

If he is last recognised batsman, he plays the nudge and place batsman.

It is not the no. 3 or 4 - it is - who is after him.

Unlike the self-centered mumbaikars like Tendulkar (or rohit sharma) who insist on opening the innings - Dhoni adapts.

And that is why he has a ODI average much ahead of the famed SRT - though batting at 6 or 7.

Posted by RakeshKumarNoida on (March 16, 2011, 6:57 GMT)

To the point article and eye-opening for the Dhoni. He is now more on making runs without taking any risk or remain not-out to boost his overall average. He should understand that he has best Indian side ever (which consisting Master and Blaster(s) and All-Rounder(s)... He should give his best to win this world cup otherwise the Indian fans will not leave anything to start cremations of all these money-centric so-called players!

Posted by saurabh21 on (March 16, 2011, 6:45 GMT)

brilliant article with a very balanced view and advice. Apart from what Dhoni needs to do,I hope the players themselves realize they are playing for their country and not for the captain or the crowd.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 6:35 GMT)

If Ugra could understand the game better than Dhoni - he would be captaining the side. He doesn't - that's precisely why he is a journo - just like film critics - who can't write a decent paragraph, but routinely talk about about weak screenplays.

Dhoni and Gary are playing the game- though not to the gallery (read dimwit desi cricket reporters). They haven't played their full team yet. They won't until the QF. Ashwin will play against the Wi - but without the carrom ball being bowled.

The idea is to place yourself against NZ in the QFs - because that is the easiest chance of getting across to the semis.

To everyone who is looking for if MSD/Team India is on full throttle - check out if there is a forward-short-leg for Harbhajan. If there is, India are playing full strength.

As for Ugra - what does he bowl? A Conn?

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 6:28 GMT)

Dhoni has all along been mostly successful with his gut instinct and chances that he has taken at crucial times. However, hie disastrous decisions of bringing Pathan up the order and later on asking Nehra to bowl the last (most important) over, not only proved to be blatantly wrong and fatal, but also costed the most important match for India!? Hope he would come out with judicious decisions in the match against West Indies!!

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 6:26 GMT)

Its high time that MSD changes his approach towards selection of team, Captaincy and his own game which is falling apart getting terribly exposed nowadays......Probably he needs to consult his team seniors on some of these, else India's WC 2011????.

Posted by crazyuddie on (March 16, 2011, 6:25 GMT)

Why should Dhoni not have gone to him?

Mainly because in the context of the match that would have been the best thing to do -- not only the un-warmed-up Nehra, but the last 2-3 overs that Harbhajan had bowled -- on a day if some guy like Harbhajan is bowling as well as was, why not give him the last over. Plus, SA are traditionally poor players of spin, and especially Peterson, a left-hander against Bhajji. As Robin Jackman and Ravi Shastri both said during commentary: I think Peterson will be happier playing Nehra.

Not to mention the fact that Harbhajan has also bowled very well in tight situations in the last 3-4 years. ODIs as well as T20s.

Posted by Alexk400 on (March 16, 2011, 6:24 GMT)

he is Mr all knowing common sense. If india lose in this world cup , it is not because of Dhoni or sachin or sehwag or even bowling.

The missing ingredient is lack of enthusiasm to win the world cup because if anyone (sehwag , dhoni , pathan , yuvi ) put hard work and win the world cup , INDIAN media will hype it up as Sachin single handedly won this world cup.

That is one and only reason india will lose in this world cup.

Posted by spypower2 on (March 16, 2011, 6:21 GMT)

just bcoz dhoni's captaicy has faltered for 2-3 matches doesnt mean he is not good....everyone remembers the gamble he took when he chose to bowl joginder sharma in the last over againt pak at t20 world cup...and many of his famous victories.......but still he has not improved a lot in batting...

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 6:21 GMT)

MS Dhoni has leaded team well but he also man he too commit mistakes but on this level u must eliminate such mistakes.He must bring his past days fire in his batting, Which can change the course of the team.our team has many players who can play anchor role like Gambhir,Sachin,Kohli,Yuvraj but one one consistant demolisher thats is Sehwag.If Dhoni joins Sehwag in demolishing opp then indian batting looks formidable.More strong

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 6:16 GMT)

Put faith on this jewel man of India,definitely he will payback.

Posted by anandby on (March 16, 2011, 6:13 GMT)

Very well said - truly madness in captaincy. Just one simple reason - who was preventing Dhoni from taking complete strike of 49th over and 50th over and score 10 to 15 runs if he is truly a one day batsmen instead of taking single and exposing Nehra and Munaf. It is simple common sense which is very well lacking in him and he only know to talk at the toss and press conference. His success as captain is due to others individual brilliance than his captaincy which he should first accept and then proceed. He talks philosophically after the match mentioning about what happened during last two years ect but doesn't have courtesy to acknowledge the oppositions for their good performance.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 6:11 GMT)

What ever you people are saying agreed, Dhoni is the one of the best captains in the world anybody have any doubts- I don't think anybody- what is happening now in the ground he don't know how arrange the field, he don't know how to plan his bowlers, he don't knoe how to arrange his batting order, he don't know to implement his plan of the game yes he knows better than any one but he don't want he have more than enough money from ads and other way around. He did not loss any thing if Indaia not win the World Cup he gets his share if India loss the game from the oppsition party. That is all MONEY IS MATTER.

Posted by sarathy_m2 on (March 16, 2011, 6:11 GMT)

No wrong in Dhoni's decisions. It's a logical gamble, but that's the only way. First, it's only middle-order batsmen spoiled the plot. Second, what would you say if match was finished in 49th over if bowled by Harbajan/Nehra? Dhoni smartly called Zaheer to bowl 49th which would result more than 10 runs to be taken in final over, and the lower-order SA might choke as usual against any bowler (particularly Nehra). Now, we dont talk about the 17 runs given by Zaheer in 39th over (though its powerplay), might've been repeated in 50th too.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 6:08 GMT)

There are bad days & good days besides hes not god even his instincts can go wrong we cant forgot the major right decisions he took in comparison with the small set of wrong decisions

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 6:05 GMT)

Now time has came for dhoni to concentrare on his bowling resources because it became universal fact that India will pay the price because of its bowling.As per condition I prefer Zaheer khan as one change bowler and give a try to spinners in opening over as its surely be neccessary in the game against West Indies because of Chris Gayle factor.Its better to bring back Sree santh as even though He have the tendency of leaking runs which munaf and Nehra are doing consistently but he has the reputation to get under the skin of opposition which both nehra and munaf lacks.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 6:03 GMT)

Now-a-days Dhoni is only concerned about his own career, but he is clever enough not to let the Indian Fans realize of it. In a scenario when India losing wickets, he will come at no 6/7 where he will be not out till the end and his average will be intact. And if Openers have given a good start, then he will come to bat at no 3. I can say, now-a-days, he is not playing for the country, just playing for himself and his position (Captain).

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 5:52 GMT)

Dhoni's avg is boosted by being NO in most matches like he remained NO at 12 against SA by exposing tailanders. and his strike rate is against minnows only go check dhoni's stats against strong oppositions.

Posted by senthil7000 on (March 16, 2011, 5:50 GMT)

Quarter final is in JEOPARDY for Indian cricket team; Consider England beats West Indies; Bangladesh beats South Africa; West Indies beats India; SA, WI and Bangladesh all will have 8 points. Eng & Ind will have 7 points; run rate will be the decider; if this happens India will be out early and have plenty of time to prepare for IPL 2011. WAY2GO Dhoni & Co.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 5:50 GMT)

A Leader never thinks the way the bunch of followers think.....dhoni is a grt leader....sometimes his ideas may not work(Giving last over to nehra) dont blame him...leave him free to take his own decisions

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 5:49 GMT)

In my point of view Raina has to replace Virat Kohli position. Raina is an all rounder. He can break the partnership, and he can bowl in a crucial time like, at the last match 50th over. One of the best fielder, and we all know that he is aggressive in the batting department. Our openers are good between the wickets.. so kohli has to sit back in the pavilion. If we replace Raina we'll get a par time bowler too....

Posted by gajvij on (March 16, 2011, 5:43 GMT)

Pls bring raina back.. he's real match winner

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (March 16, 2011, 5:41 GMT)

Dhoni's ODI average is a smokescreen for those who can't look beyond. He has scored 5904 runs in 162 innings at an average of 48.79 with 41 not outs. But if he has scored 2060 in these 41 innings, some of which have been truly inspired and match winning one must acknowledge. His high scores have high strike rates but not so the the lower scores. That's the reason one sees Dhoni's strike rate being low at the start of the innings more often than not especially when sent up the order. In the 121 innings he got out, he has scored only 3884 at an average of less than 32 and therein lies the story of true ability. Dhoni when promoted up the order will be a disaster for the team when chasing a big score. Yusuf should be sent ahead of Dhoni with permission to free-hit. Kohli needs to be sent either before or after Yuvraj depending on the score and run rate. Kohli is more stable talentwise but is yet to show consistency.

Posted by Master_sachu on (March 16, 2011, 5:40 GMT)

We are not worried about his averages, style or class. We need better performance from him as an individual (keeping and batting) and captain of India. If a match winner is not out in a losing match it doesn't help in anyway. Cricket is game and the decision will be based on some valid justifications. MS Dhoni cannot ask for excuse by criticizing the players in the media during the tournament. We hope that the present team is capable of beating any team. The captain and the senior players have to reorganize the team and execute the strategies.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 5:34 GMT)

Hello , Same pathan scored well against Steyn and co in thier own back yard, so I what is wrong in sending him during powerplay in Flat pitches in India ? If Yusuf had hit 4 sixes successfully then all should have kept quet , It was just not his day.........................

Posted by vivek461 on (March 16, 2011, 5:32 GMT)

Very nice article. I want Dhoni to read this article and my message to him and team management is to "Forget who is world no.2 batsman in ur team and who is no 100, you must play those which suits team INDIA" and clearly if you are playing in flat pitches with Sachin,Gambhir and Dhoni in your team you do not need to have another anchor. You must send pathan between over no. 20 to 40 to play most of the slow bowlers and Yuvi/Raina should be used to play between 35th to 50th overs as both are very good hitters of fast bowlers. Dhoni should be the floater. Use Yusuf to his STRENGTH and not to his weakness.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 5:24 GMT)

Dhoni is with no Doubt a Good Cricketer . But , have to think twice when it comes to his captaincy . You can see a good coincidence of time when people started questioning his captaincy and the decline in the Batting form of Yuvraj Singh . Most of the successes India achieved under Dhoni was when Yuvraj was in Good form or his single handed wins for India rather than coz of Dhoni's captaincy . His childish comment of "playing for crowd" cant digest since all the batsmen 'at that stage' might get the Instruction from Doni himself for Big hits .

Posted by manoj.aspen on (March 16, 2011, 5:24 GMT)

For me thinking and planning is not right within the team management:

1. Batting composition is not right in the team. Virat and Gambhir are similar in style and capabilities and team needs only one of them. Sachin & Viru are very solid on top so two similar kind of batsman are not required at no 3 & 4 when you have yuvi, dhoni and Pathank to come, so bring Raina in place of Virat or Gautam, I would go Gaumtam in the team leaving virat out.

2. Dhoni needs to bat at no 4, that not only compensate loss of Virat but also help yuvi to calm down and we all know what Dhoni is capable of batting up the order.

3. Avoid batting BATTING POWER PLAY when Sachin is batting and sending Pathan in Batting Power Play because both changes their game during BPP and loos wickets.

5. Drop Bhajji and bring Ashwin and play with 3 Pacer. Bhajji is not a confident player and worried about his reputation so unless his reputation is destroyed he will not come out fearless, Team needs a courageous BHAJJI.

Posted by Prats6 on (March 16, 2011, 5:18 GMT)

The huge mistake MSD is making is Kohli's place is sacrosanct, he is a good player no questions, but you already have a top order comprising of SRT, Viru and Gautham, and with Kohli's apparent limitation to go for runs from ball 1 , it just does not make sense. Either MSD or Yuvi have to be at 4, Raina in at 6, Pathan 7. I agree with Nehra bowling the last over, and had the french cut not gone for a 4 off the first ball, we might have had a positive result.

Anyway, lets just back the team to the hilt. All the best MS.

Posted by deepakjm on (March 16, 2011, 5:18 GMT)

Gambhir needs to go out and raina should come in his place and dhoni should bat either 3 or 4 as he used to do an year before and he was succeeding. For dhoni to explode in the end he needs some time at the crease. Virat should be given preference over gambhir purely because he is much better fielder. And Ashwin should come in the side for whom I have no idea.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 5:08 GMT)

There is no Question about his leardership and his plans... But I believe wat happened in that Particular game against SA is different.. Too many crooks spoiled the game.. I'm sure Dhoni's intention was to give the ball to Harbhajan, but u can see Zaheer, Sachin and Harbhajan coming and disussing something there. I believe harbhajan was scared of bowling the last over, If he was ready things would have been different.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 4:59 GMT)

I have great respect for the author of this article, since I am a big fan of all her writings. Unfortunately, this article is making a mountain out of a mole hill. Dhoni winning ICC World T20, IPL and Champions trophy for CSK all didn't come as a fluke. He is far ahead of any one in the team right now to lead our team. One experiment with a really good bowler Nehra, went out of our way doesn't mean Dhoni or Indian Team failed completely. Please be patient. League phase is testing phase. Why Indians panic like bangladeshis or pakistanis. Let our captain cool, master blaster, ace seamer and spin wizards Bhaji and Ashwin take care of things. Please relax and don't make fine indians crazy. Let me see if this comment gets here, the transparency of cricinfo is at stake now.

Posted by Andare on (March 16, 2011, 4:52 GMT)

Can you expect more from a man who cant understand how the UDRS works?

Posted by TwitterJitter on (March 16, 2011, 4:49 GMT)

My question would be if SA or some other team lost a game how many writers would be writing articles questioning why some one was sent up the order or given last over. It is not Dhoni's fault that Indian team has at least 5 or 6 bad fielders that it gets difficult to hide them in the field. Indian bowling is also really sub-standard on flat wickets. These are not Dhoni's faults. The truth is Indian bowling and fielding are sub-standard while our batting is truly top-notch. However, no team has ever won a world cup just on batting alone. It is our media which created all the hype over them being favorites and are now tearing them down. We need to go back and question as to why we don't produce enough quality bowlers and fielders. Unless we address that long-term problem we will aways be finding the wrong target to direct our ire. Its time we lower the expectation and realize that we have serious bowling and fielding liabilities that Dhoni can't fix. Selectors need to scout better too.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 4:32 GMT)

Dear Sharda - As outstanding as your analysis of the match situation is, your conclusion goes against the factual evidence in your article! I think Dhoni's decision was sound and is the best taken at the situation. Here is why!

1. GAMBLER DOESNT ALWAYS WIN: As you said, Dhoni took an educated gamble! The key word is gamble! No gambler wins all the time! As u said, his winning percentage is high! 2.QUALITY AND TENDU SABBBATICAL: U point out his best ODI performance as Captain is dated back by a few years! Do u realize that Tendulkar took a sabattical during the last year + from ODIs and India played guys like Rohit Sharma and Jadeja lessening the quality of the team! 3. Dhoni read the tournament situation well. He knew his chances are good if he tossed the ball to Bajji. But he wanted a confident Nehra back or atleast wnted to show he has faith in him! Well done Dhoni!

4. No one in the world has mastery over ODIs than Tendulkar! India must putup 400+ scores in one or two mtchs!

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 4:31 GMT)

What if Yousf Pathan's uppish coverdrive had been two inches higher, or to the right or left? Had he survivded and made a few useful runs against Dayle Steyn and Co., would Dhoni have been a wise captain? Why is no mention made of Yuvaraj's failures against the stronger teams and his of-late abysmal catching and fielding? What is wrong in giving your leg spinner a longish run? And to whom is Dhoni in danger of losing the captaincy?

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 4:30 GMT)

Perfectly put. DHONI is the right choice, but right now, he himself seems in self doubt. Very bad time for this phenomenon. Also, Dhoni batting up the order at 4,5 would be really great for India.

Posted by TheOnlyEmperor on (March 16, 2011, 4:28 GMT)

I don't fault Yusuf / Yuvraj at all for going for their shots. I however fault Dhoni for facing 20 balls at a strike rate of 50 during the period of the collapse. He didn't attempt to even hit the ball to the boundary.He goes defensive unable to rotate strike nor effectively score especially when the ball is bowled on the offstump line. I fault him for granting strike to the tail and fault the tail in not being able to keep their wicket. The Indian tail is the world's worst batting unit. It cannot be counted on to score at all, save the exception. When it comes to bowling, the bowlers lack intensity. Bhajji gets easily scared and the "quicks" lose it under pressure. The bowlers don't even care to get behind the stumps to collect the ball, let alone collect the ball. This is atrocious and I've been watching cricket for over 35 years! Indian cricket is mediocre thanks to bowling and fielding and it's time for the media and fans to start whipping this till it shapes up!

Posted by moheel on (March 16, 2011, 4:18 GMT)

Dhoni is no more a Good finisher.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 4:07 GMT)

I was kinda scared of the thought of Harbhajan bowling the last over when I watched the match and was happy to see Nehra, at first. But when the match ended in just 4 balls I thought maybe Harbhajan should have bowled the last over. Nehra not being in form....Harbhajan just beginning to pick wickets and looking good...and all that stuff, you know. But what if Harbhajan had been slogged up for 2 sixes in 2 balls? How would the media have responded? Dhoni's decision to play Ashwin in the "super over" against Victorian Bush Rangers might have been running in his mind. That's why maybe Dhoni opted for a seamer. Whatever it is, I hope Dhoni stays cools and takes us into knockouts with a win against WI. And I hope Raina gets a game instead of Kohli.

Posted by jimbond on (March 16, 2011, 4:06 GMT)

Dont play captain yet! Give the man a chance. As for giving Nehra the last over, someone had to be given the last over. In the past, he had been relying on Nehra in crucial points in matches, and Nehra had been performing. Second, if a team is 260 for 1, or two wickets, what better time to send in a hitter like Pathan to demoralize the opposition? Low risk option, considering the fact that (at that point of time) there were several good batsmen yet to come in- who could potentially handle things if Pathan were to get out.

At the end of the day, the captain is only as good as the team.

And dont write articles just because they have to be written. Write on things that exist- such as India's poor fielding (who are India's poor fielders etc)- and using Ian Chappel's metaphor- Even if Munaf/Nehra/Ashwin's bowling was as good as Mgrath (in his prime), they couldnt do as much damage in bowling, as much as they mess upwhile fielding (Why not Play Suresh Raina).

Posted by JustAGame on (March 16, 2011, 3:55 GMT)

Are you doing any favor by putting him under pressure just before a decisive match for India ? If you and me and folks like us know something about cricket, Dhoni-kirsten must be knowing all. Let's have faith in our team, they have been performing greatly over last few years, let's not take it away from team India in just few bad games.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 3:54 GMT)

ms dhoni is real match winner , he can bat at any number and win matches for india. he is having more than 48 batting average at a good strike rate.

Posted by   on (March 16, 2011, 3:50 GMT)

I feel the loss against SA was mainly due to the batting collapse. I see no point in talking about Nehra's bowling or any other reason. You expect the chasing team to score off those 300 runs especially when all they expected the target to be around 370 380. It might help if people stop criticizing the team and the captain during the middle of the tournament, after-all we didn't bow out like last time. And sending pathan in the batting powerplay was a good move, only thing is it didnt workout that day. Had he scored a quick 50, this talk wouldn't have come. It was the same pathan who scored a century very recently against steyn n co in south africa. Even steyn admitted that he was looking down the barrell in his first 5 overs - just to insist he was not a force on that day that he used to be.

Posted by Irarum on (March 16, 2011, 3:44 GMT)

Chawla's selection itself is baffling. Looks like he is either drinking something new these days or someone's working on his mind. In the name of giving license may be he is putting extra pressure on few players. I am worried that Virat Kohli may not be at his best unless he gets to bat at 3/4. IMHO, not all 4 Y,P,K,D are leveled at same skill to power hit. Kohli needs to play in-form innings whenever India gets a decent start. In both England and SA matches momentum slowed down after Left-handers walked in (both not at peak). Perhaps Dhoni doesn't trust anyone but himself as finisher so he doesn't walk-in until 5th wicket falls. Which contrasts above theory of power hitting. I am honestly excited by your last sentence. If that happens, I will get to celebrate a captain as well a cup. Finally, Dhoni may find some help watching 2003 WC /captain.

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