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Former India opener; author of Beyond the Blues, an account of the 2007-08 Ranji Trophy season

Dhoni: from instinctive to inflexible

India's captain has increasingly become rigid in his tactics when the team needs him to be unconventional

Aakash Chopra

October 9, 2012

Comments: 127 | Text size: A | A

MS Dhoni has done away with his moustache on his birthday, West Indies v India, 3rd Test, Dominica, 2nd day, July 7, 2011
It's possible that heavy criticism following defeats forced Dhoni to rethink his natural tendency to punt © AFP
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The metamorphosis of MS Dhoni from a long-haired pinch-hitter to a suave captain couldn't have been more fascinating, particularly for those who have seen him from close quarters. In 2004 he arrived on the scene as a small-town boy, with his bold helicopter shot and a natural affinity for hitting the ball. He soon turned into the perfect antidote for a team struggling with an over-reliance on senior players. He came armed with new ideas about endgame tactics, had the ability and conviction to take risks, backed players fully, and it all worked out well for him.

I remember first meeting Dhoni - reticent and self-conscious back then - on an India A tour to Kenya and Zimbabwe. We shared a room for over a month, which gave me an opportunity to understand why he was an extraordinary player.

Dhoni was the second-choice keeper on the tour after Dinesh Karthik. While Dhoni spent a lot of time honing his skills behind the stumps, as was expected, he was also the first in the nets to try his hand at fast bowling. I told him his bowling stints were futile, but he was having none of it. In fact, he happily bowled to Karthik, his competitor, who was vying for a place in the Indian team by spending extra hours in the nets to work out problems in his batting. Many of us thought Dhoni was being foolish. but we failed to read between the lines. In his late teens, he had already realised that life in sport was going to be a daring adventure - you punt, win or lose, or play it safe and lose more often than not.

Here was a small-town boy who was the opposite of how you expected him to be: raring to go, secure in his cricket, unruffled by the world's view of him, not caring what others, including his competitors, were doing. That made him extraordinary.

Karthik got a call-up from India, so Dhoni got his chance with the A side, and that's when I first glimpsed the brilliance in his batting and the astuteness in his cricket thinking. India played a triangular involving Pakistan A on that tour, and I saw Dhoni paddle Iftikhar Anjum, a reasonably quick bowler, for a boundary, and then, to my utter disbelief, reverse-sweep him for another because the third man had been brought inside the circle. This was a shot most people hadn't seen before, and it told me that Dhoni was here to stay.

He wasn't afraid to try new things and was a gambler by nature. When he saw third man was inside the circle, his gaming instincts made him try something unconventional. It wasn't a percentage shot, but if gamblers start worrying about the odds, they would never gamble.

Dhoni went on to play this way even after he donned the India colours. He trusted his instincts and wasn't afraid of risk. As captain, in the World Twenty20 final in 2007, he opened the batting with the less-fancied Yusuf Pathan and threw the ball to Joginder Sharma for the last over. Some will argue that Virender Sehwag's unavailability and Harbhajan Singh's ordinary form made Dhoni's decisions look straightforward, but I thought they were brave moves in the face of adversity. It takes immense courage to not bowl the more experienced bowler when a World Cup is at stake, even if that bowler has gone for a few in his previous over.

Dhoni's move to promote Cheteshwar Pujara to bat at No. 3 against Australia in the Bangalore Test in 2010 revealed an incisive mind. It was an instinctive decision, and he took it. It's not every day that a captain asks Rahul Dravid to move down the order.

Dhoni went on to lead India to the No. 1 ranking in Tests and a World Cup victory after 28 years. My heart was in my mouth when I saw him walk out of the pavilion ahead of the in-form Yuvraj Singh in the final in Mumbai last year. Again a gamble. And the world would have crucified him had the move gone wrong. But Dhoni, never shy of taking on his responsibilities, stepped out with an unwavering spirit.

His tactical brilliance came to the fore a lot more in the IPL and the Champions League, because the T20 format rarely follows a set pattern, and it demands a lot more from the captain. Since every over in a T20 game is 5% of the total innings, a single mistake in judgement can cost you a match. Dhoni opened the bowling with R Ashwin, made Suresh Raina a better bowler and manoeuvred his batting resources to get the best out of everyone. It's true he had a talented side at his disposal, but so did Mumbai Indians, Delhi Daredevils and Kolkata Knight Riders. Yet, none of the others delivered similar results over five seasons.

 
 
It is sad to see Dhoni succumb to a safety-first approach - one that promotes complacency, where guarding an advantage becomes more important than acquiring one
 

Unfortunately all that, though glorious, is in the past. Of late, the flexibility that was Dhoni's forte seems to have deserted him. I'm not a huge fan of a captain being too flexible, since it can betray a lack of conviction, but rigidity isn't good either, for that stems from arrogance.

In the 2011 World Cup, Dhoni persisted with Piyush Chawla for as long as it was possible, though Yuvraj, a part-time spinner, looked a lot better than Chawla. Dhoni was also too stubborn to use Ashwin till he was forced to. It wasn't a coincidence that the team that played the final Test in Adelaide in 2011-12 was nearly identical (except for missing Dhoni to a one-match suspension) to the one that played the first Test of the tour, in Melbourne, even though India had already lost the series 0-3.

The obstinacy continued during the one-dayers that followed. Even if Dhoni adopted the much-publicised rotation policy at the top, he refused to allow Manoj Tiwary a hit in the middle, though Raina and Rohit Sharma were failing consistently. Later, in spite of the failures in Australia, Dhoni chose to travel with the same personnel to the Asia Cup. In the inconsequential one-off T20 in South Africa, where the hosts rested their senior pros, India fielded their best XI. Rohit's presence in all five ODIs in Sri Lanka, despite having failed for the longest time, was also inexplicable.

All this raises the question: is Dhoni being rigid in his thought process or is he just afraid of losing?

Agreeing to call off the Test match in Dominica when India needed a little over a run a ball with seven wickets in hand was an example of Dhoni's changing mindset. In an IPL game against Pune Warriors, Dhoni didn't bowl Ravindra Jadeja because the left-handed Jesse Ryder was on strike. Trying Jadeja may have been a gamble but playing it safe only delayed the inevitable. Jadeja didn't bowl in the final against KKR either.

More recently, in the match against South Africa in the just concluded World Twenty20, it was baffling to see Ashwin bowl after Rohit. Also, Dhoni's top three bowlers (Zaheer Khan, Ashwin and L Balaji) were left with an over each in hand even after South Africa crossed 121. Was defending 121 the objective or winning the match, even if it meant India went out of the tournament? Looking on from the outside, it felt like the latter. Perhaps Dhoni's inclination to always have a back-up plan if things go awry explains his reluctance to promote himself in the batting order in T20s.

It is sad to see Dhoni succumb to a safety-first approach - one that promotes complacency, where guarding an advantage becomes more important than acquiring one. In life, as one achieves success, the ability to take risks falls in almost the same proportion. When Dhoni first became captain there was very little at stake, so he could punt without worrying too much, but as the stakes got higher, every defeat was ruthlessly dissected and criticised, which may have led him to believe defeat was not an option.

Since the Indian team is going through a transition, it will need Dhoni's gambling instincts as a leader more than ever, for now he may have to make the team punch above its weight often. I'm eagerly waiting for him to stop playing the percentages and start following his instincts instead. Instead of being vocal about wanting rank turners at home, it would be better if he starts addressing the big issue, which is to build a team that will also succeed overseas.

Dhoni's cricket has always been more about the attitude than skill, and sometimes that's what is needed to succeed at the highest level.

Former India opener Aakash Chopra is the author of Out of the Blue, an account of Rajasthan's 2010-11 Ranji Trophy victory. His website is here and his Twitter feed here

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Posted by   on (October 11, 2012, 23:52 GMT)

Dhoni is still the best guy to read the game on a cricket field for India...There is no other like him after Sourav Ganguly...But his bowlers let him down very often as India have always struggled to find a good bowling attack. While other teams can bounce out Indian batsmen...India on the other hand rely on slow bouncers hoping for mistiming only..No threatening spinners...The world cup match of 2011 (IND VS ENG) was a perfect example. Come on India start producing genuine seamers (Over 145 KM/H).

Posted by ansram on (October 11, 2012, 15:32 GMT)

@jasonpete,crosse - Absolutely right. Dhoni has done well actually, which other captain in the world would have acheived so much with a nearly non existant Indian bowling lineup? Fans use different yardstick to judge different people.

This is not to say I am fully happy with Dhoni, he has issues, but a captain is only as good as the team and a good captain can frequently punch above the team's weight, which Dhoni has done many times. Give this Indian team to a successful captain like Ponting and check how India fares under him.

Posted by rosh280 on (October 11, 2012, 11:36 GMT)

here i noticed that you are not criticizing. you tell the fact. you analyzed correctly. it is the high time dhoni be replaced with yuvraj. he is a senior he is a great player with skills. javagal srinath should be consulted before selecting fast bowlers. he knows to judge the skills. It is anil kumble found the skills in aswin and pragyan ojha. because of that we had two great spinners with others. similarly kapil or sreenath greatest fast bowlers we had to find the great fast bowlers they should also have speed and wicket taking abilities also. i will go with deepak chahar, vinay kumar, praveen kumar, pawan zuyal. prashant parameswaran, shami ahmed, jalaj saxena and b kumar. dhoni has no choice left when openers sehwag and gambir are not performing. he is really clueless. he experimented with irfan. it was a great decision. irfan had not performed. i remember ashok when you performed well, you, v rathour did nt get chance

Posted by rosh280 on (October 11, 2012, 11:27 GMT)

It never looked dhoni as a good captain. now he does nt have pinch hitting also. if you watch the videos of him. we really doubt his batting style. in the initial time of dhoni captainship, the openers were in full form even rahul dravid, rohit, suresh raina all played well. The scenario changed now. his all tactics failed in most of the matches. we should have tried rohit sharma or yuvraj singh as a captain. it will be a wise decision. india should include mandeep singh, ashok menaria,sarul kanwar,sunny singh, i d singh, jalaj saxena, b kumar, praveen kumar, vinay kumar, rithuraj, shami ahmed, deepak chahar at the time they were performing well. surya kumar yadav, pawan zuyal all need to get the nod. we need to get wicket taking bowlers. in spinners we have aswin, pragyan ojha, amit mishra and harbhajan all are great spinners. we should have tried baba aparajith and makvana also. they will really perform bz they perform now. akash when you performed they did nt give you chance.

Posted by srinideva on (October 11, 2012, 7:01 GMT)

@jasonpete, Superb observation of indian team, enenthough you are not an indian. You got it right

Posted by himohan007 on (October 11, 2012, 5:26 GMT)

@jasonpete Completely Agreed. In fact it is a nail hits directly at the heads of Indian Cricket Pundits including Akash Chopra. Thank you Cheersssssss.

Posted by anotheridiot on (October 11, 2012, 5:10 GMT)

I really don't agree with you that Dhoni is a brilliant captain. When he took over as captain he had a very good team and more importantly most of the players were in good form. And whatever gambles he took payed off. Like his decision to toss the ball to Joginder Sharma to bowl the last over. What if it had not worked, than what? . And winning the world cup had more to do with his players being in form rather than his tactical brilliance, except maybe the final. And now that his players are woefully out of form, the same Dhoni is being called clueless, rigid and what not. His much criticized decision to ask Rohit Sharma to bowl ahead of Ashwin in the match against SA would have been hailed as a brilliant decision had it payed off. If India wants to do well in next world cup than it's high time the new selection committee take a stance of perform or perish. And change of guard at the top especially in test and T20 would be good not only for team India but also for Dhoni.

Posted by High_on_Cricket on (October 11, 2012, 2:39 GMT)

"In life, as one achieves success, the ability to take risks falls in almost the same proportion" ... this, I believe, sums up the situation. After winning the world cup in 2011, Dhoni has more to lose now than to gain. That is probably playing on his sub-conscious mind and affecting his risk appetite. Sad but true, probably time has come now to gradually groom new guys like Kohli to take over the captaincy mantle from Dhoni. It can be started immediately by making Kohli the T20 captain, watch him over a period of one year and then decide who will be a better bet to lead India in the 2015 WC in Australia.

Posted by wolf777 on (October 11, 2012, 1:02 GMT)

@ JontyG…Nohit Sharma has talent? Funny…a 'check' of his career stats does not reveal any talent In case you don't know the meaning of word talent, may be you want to compare his stats with that of Virat Kholi's. They both have played similar number of ODIs.

Posted by Nerk on (October 11, 2012, 0:50 GMT)

Dhoni is a good captain, that is true. But of late, and this I believe is Mr. Chopra's point, he has lacked the courage and conviction that made Dhoni a good captain in the first place. This could be seen last summer in Aus, where he was being outplayed and outclassed by Clarke. This does not mean that Dhoni is a bad player, nor does it mean he should be dropped forever as captain. It is merely constructive criticism, that notes that Dhoni has become rather complacent in his captaincy over the last couple of years.

Posted by WC2011Champs on (October 10, 2012, 23:22 GMT)

People are becoming unreasonable when they ask Dhoni to covert talent into performance. That's not his job. Dhoni is already overcommitted and should give up CSK responsibility (not a national duty) in IPL and then CL. As a matter of fact IPL season should be reduced to 40 matches from 70. THAT IS WHERE THE TALENT AND THE HUNGER IS LOST OR MISPLACED. Batsmen become tentative and forget how to play long innings when playing tests; bowlers prefer to contain instead of attacking even in tests as if the carnage is going to stop after 20 overs; and the rest of us can't even keep players' records straight after so much cricket. Why blame Dhoni? I blame coach Duccan who has done NOTHING. In his watch the team performance has deteriorated - seniors, juniors, batsmen, bowlers, tests or limited overs. A new, positive and an influential coach can play a major role in turning this around and let Dhoni rekindle his magic.

Posted by mrmonty on (October 10, 2012, 20:19 GMT)

Could it be that every captain looks unconventional and experimental for a while because of their contrasting style with the outgoing captain and becomes conventional once we get used to it? So, what seems uninnovative captaincy might just be a slave to our perspective? And, could it be that success has a lot of fathers? Ponting while he was winning, Strauss while he was winning and Dhoni while he was winning?

Posted by JontyG on (October 10, 2012, 19:08 GMT)

Easy to criticise and look at loopholes when the team isint doing well. Cmon Mr.Aakash Chopra..being a player and being played at the highest level, we expect you to support our team rather then talking just like any other cricket fan. Lets talk abt the T20 WC - we won both the matches during the first round, lost one match in super 8's and we are out. Windies won 2 matches and played the SFinals. So is it Dhoni's poor captaincy? Dhoni is the right person to take over the captaincy from dada as he has always backed young players. People who question RP's inclusion in England, please check his performance on the last English tour. When there were no other bowlers who cud even stand, had no option but to play RP. People who question Piyush Chawla's inclusion, MSD uses him as a suprise weapon against Eng, SA, Aus, remember wat happened in CB series finals which India won? and Rohit Sharma...can we deny that hez not talented ?

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 17:21 GMT)

please if u want to blame anybody blame the selectors with medicore bowling attack and openers failing (they didnt score century for past 3 ers) and players of middle order lost there prime atleast 5 ers before how can he get better results.how on earth chawla,balaji,zaheer,rohit,bhaji r in the squad the only reason u can blame dhoni is he is not trusting young stars as he was in 2007-11 that is d reason. u can give second or third chance to the players like kohli (3rd test in aus) who works hard and matured person but not to players like rohit sharma (though i am fan of him) what he done remarkably in this 5 ers of international cricket time to leave him and go forward.

Posted by nlambda on (October 10, 2012, 16:48 GMT)

Guys, one small thing: saying "Aakash was not as good as Dhoni" is not an acceptable rebuttal. Statements need to be evaluated on their merit, not on the identity of the person making those statements. This is a very thoughtful article and does a good job of laying bare Dhoni's problems. The one other thing I would add is Dhoni's weird, baffling tendency to have six fielders at the boundary when nos 9,10,11 are batting in a test match. Why is he not confident enough to crowd the tailenders with close-in fielders?

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 16:41 GMT)

@joseyesu : India have a ot of good bowlers... Lets just talk bout t20 for now, R. Aswin is probably the best spinner in t20's after saeed ajmal. Irfan pathan swings the new ball more than dale steyn. India just doesnt have fast bowlers... otherwise its a gud attack. cant remember any game in wt20 where india were pulverised by oppostion batting except australia and that was because the it was watson n warner's day. God save the world when sehwag, yuvraj or raina r in full flow, maybe then u'll realise what aussies did was not dat amazing. In tests, u'll see what the indian attack is all about in SA... And dhoni is an amazing captain... mayb hez not doing dt gud rite now, but the world knows about him. He has taken india to the pinnacle in all three formats... No other captain has done that. And if a few ODI or test series matter so much, than i dont know why stephen fleming, greame smith are called amazing captains.

Posted by Patrick_ on (October 10, 2012, 16:24 GMT)

Winning two world cups with a weak bowling attack is in itself an achievement. People will cry if someone asks about the fast bowling attack for India. So along with this if the batting too fails then there is nothing it look forward. Dhoni did rotate the seniors to include the youngsters. Even then if they do not get the message then when will they ? He is out of form in Tests so he will not have much voice, but in ODIs he has and can make changes. Not changing the youngsters might have come as he being obstinate, but didn't he rotate the seniors ? Press even had cooked up that Dhoni and Sehwag have differences. I am all support when it comes to giving long run for youngsters. It gives them confidence. Remember Kohli who had his first century in Australia after failing miserably in Tests before even in India.

Whether Dhoni has changed or not... he is the most successful Indian captain with two World Cups.

Posted by The_Ashes on (October 10, 2012, 16:17 GMT)

Billion people are still an average team ups and downs in a country that loves Cricket is below standard and unacceptable. India should always be on the top no middle or bottom especially a country consisting of a billion people no excuses :)

Posted by Nampally on (October 10, 2012, 16:06 GMT)

Some Indian & foreign fans (Geoffrey Crosse & Jasonpete) appear to think Dhoni is doing a decent job as Captain. They are right to a certain extent but they appear to be ignoring the glaring mistakes he makes which defy logic in team selection, field placing, bowling changes & general tactics. I do not wish to quote long list of examples.The Selectors made blunders in Squad selection & Dhoni did in XI selection. I realise every captain makes mistakes. But illogical tactics especially in selection of XI has left India without a stable bowling or batting. Rahul Sharma, Murali Kartik, Ojha are talented spinners who would have led India forward. M.Tiwary, C.Pujara & A.Rahane are the shelved batsmen who will make a huge mark in future. You make mistakes but not at the risk jeopardising the Indian Team.The Selectors & Captain need to bring seamers like Ishant Sharma, U.Yadev, Aaron, D.Kulkarni to Test standard. India needs a captain who converts talent into performance & results. MSD failed!

Posted by test_cricket_is_real_cricket on (October 10, 2012, 15:31 GMT)

if a team's success is attributed to its captain and coach, then they must take responsibility for its failure as well... whether it was his luck or his skills, dhoni was effective as a captain until the 2011 world cup... but now, its time for a change... and forget about captaincy, you must always select the best XI players to play for your country, and then choose a captain among them... Dhoni currently doesnt even deserve a place in the test team based on his keeping and batting alone... we talk about rahane replacing tendulkar or sehwag, but gambhir, raina and dhoni are the worst performers of India's overseas tours... its time to make sehwag or maybe zaheer captain, bring in saha/karthik as wk and groom kohli for the future... kohli can be made indias ODI and T20 captain... he has more experience than what dhoni had when he was asked to lead India...

Posted by Arunprasad3011 on (October 10, 2012, 14:54 GMT)

@jasonpete & @Geoffrey Crosse - Well said mates. Completely agree with you guys. Some of the comments here about Dhoni are just ridiculous. They ask him to be himself and yet they judge him. It is sad that people have very short memories.

Posted by wolf777 on (October 10, 2012, 14:26 GMT)

Add that to his stubborn refusal to play Manoj Tiwari despite his better performance than Rohit Sharma. Ditto in the case of Irfan Pathan. Dhoni preferred Vinay Kumar in shtead and stubbornly played him ahead of Irfan Pathan in the ODI series in Australia. It was only the injury of Vinay Kumar finally forced him to give Irfan Pathan a chance. His commitment to six batsmen, WK and four bowler combination is another example of his inflexibleness. India lost the first test at Lord's during the tour of England when Zaheer Khan got injured and India was left with only three bowlers. In the second test that immediately followed, India had England on the mat on the very first day with 8 wickets down in 90 odd runs. However, as India had only three fast bowlers and no fast/medium pace bowling allrounder, tiring bowlers could not mop up English tailenders quickly. Needless to say, 200 plus runs from tailenders made the difference and India lost the test. Again in Australia same mistake was

Posted by mukesh_LOVE.cricket on (October 10, 2012, 14:17 GMT)

And what exactly is dhoni supposed to do with a team which has not a single quality fast bowler , an opener who is walking wicket on any pitch with a hint of movement , and some seniors who just wont retire (and cant even take a bit of criticism on their fielding standards ! ), but i agree gambhir would be a good captain , but we need the player resources to do it whoever is the captain , hopefully umesh yadav and varun aaron will develop into decent bowlers soon..

Posted by karthik_raja on (October 10, 2012, 12:56 GMT)

There are many, accusing here the selection panel for the squad - in defense of Dhoni. Any1 who knows little abt BCCI and Dhoni wont say so. Am pretty sure Dhoni always gets the squad he wants. Even if he doesn't, he has the power to voice against it. So. whatever the team selected is based on Dhoni's interest. Else, how can u explain the selection of RP to Eng, Piyush inclusion in WC matches, consistent run for Rohit, Jadeja, Raina(in Tests) etc etc. He will always get his squad. Even if some1 is included in the 14 member squad(against his wish - due to public pressure), i always get a feeling that he will make sure that player gets minimum opportunities(like the case of Irfan). Dhoni has always been stubborn. Else how can u explain playing Piyush ahead of Ashwin in imp WC match. He has always tried to prove that he was not wrong by repeating the same mistake. He has been winning all these days. Now since he start losing, all these characteristics suddenly catches d eyes of pundits.

Posted by AMAZINGFAN on (October 10, 2012, 12:54 GMT)

dhoni won two wcs.....akash did nothing for india....

Posted by Al_Bundy1 on (October 10, 2012, 12:42 GMT)

Aakash is dead wrong on this one. Dhoni is the best captain India ever produced. His record is better than that of Kapil Dev and Ganguly, if you don't count Ganguly's wins against Zimbabwe and Bangladesh. Dhoni had essentially the same team in 2011 that Dravid had in 2007. Yet Dhoni won the World Cup with that team while Dravid's team could not even make it to the second round. Ganguly had an even better team in 2003 with bowlers like Kumble and Srinath, and batsmen like 10dulkar and Dravid in their prime. Yet Ganguly couldn't win any World Cup in spite of all the talented players at his disposal.

Posted by desi-blue on (October 10, 2012, 12:32 GMT)

Ironically I feel that Dhoni is indeed concerned about what people think of him because looking at Dhoni I get the feeling that he has taken this ''Captain Cool'' persona a little too literally...it's almost as if he has curbed his natural instincts because he feels that this is the way people want him to play...what else would explain the various matches where he has taken games into latter stages when they could have been finished off quicker...and I also get the feeling that he actually likes this image of being a calm and cool person who is not ruffled by anything and tries to reinforce this perception on people who watch him play (at the expense of his natural and aggressive nature)...People in commentary and media have played up this ''captain cool'' aspect to such extent that I get a feeling that Dhoni feels he has a certain reputation to live up to and he does his best to live to this perception,again at the expense of his natural game.

Posted by JBerger on (October 10, 2012, 10:21 GMT)

Dhoni along with Ganguly has been the most fearless captain India has produced in their Cricketing history. People have to understand, not every game was won even by the Mighty West Indies or Australian in their prime. Leave him alone, take his success along with failures that is only naturally fair.

Posted by aarpee2 on (October 10, 2012, 9:14 GMT)

!] Dhoni's decision to bring himself on to bowl on the first morning of the First test at LOrd's vs Eng 2011-What is the message you send to your opposition and your own bowlers 2] Flying an unfit and out of form RP Singh from Florida for the final test against Eng 2011-What is the message to the bowlers on the bench and the stand-by's ? 3] Unwillingness to answer the phone and speak to a Very Very Special teammate who helped you in no uncertain manner to gain No1 Status in Tests- What does this reveal ? .......no prizes for guessing!! These are but a few pointers to his mindset .I hope he realises that no one on earth is indispensable before it all comes crashing down sooner than later.On current form he deserves to play and lead only in ODI's-will selectors take a call?

Posted by joseyesu on (October 10, 2012, 8:18 GMT)

@VVS_a_class_act - Don't forget Ind trashed by Aus's. Againt Eng, everyone(Bairstow, Butler, Hales..) is a new player where harbajan took adavantage on that, and against SA, it is more of bad play that of good bowling. The whole world knews what is Ind bowling capable of...Name anyone in ICC ODI/T20/Test

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 7:50 GMT)

I agree with Geoffrey Crosse that Dhoni is doing a good job with the resources givento him. But, as happens to every other Captain, some of his decisions may have back-fired and he might have committed mistakes. Was it his fault alone that India lost to Australia in the recently concluded T-20 World Cup ? Why does nobody talk of the victories against England and Pakistan? He was innovative in asking Irfan to open innings in a couple of matches. He won the ODI series against England in Oct. 2011, against West Indies immediately thereafter and against Sri Lanka in August 2012. but, of course, he is not so superhuman to be able to produce victories all the time or not to be able to commit mistakes now and then.

Posted by jasonpete on (October 10, 2012, 7:11 GMT)

Posted by Geoffrey Crosse on (October 10 2012, 01:20 AM GMT), you are absolutely right mate, I am not an Indian,but when I see this Indian team with all unfit players and poor bowlers, dhoni did a tremendous job as a captain with the limited resources and won two World Cup and no.1 test team..But I guess Indian fans worship individual players and they gets offended when laxman dropped due to poor form or any other senior players like sehwag .Eventhough their openers are woefully out of form for past 3 years,no one is replacing them as they still want sehwag to be in the team and Gambhir to be test captain.Ridiculous to say the least when you hear this .India failed abroad due to openers and famed middle order batting inability due to ageing factor.But as you say, they blame it all on captain and will still worship the players like sehwag ,Gambhir and many more and want them to be in team no matter whether they make runs or not.

Posted by   on (October 10, 2012, 1:20 GMT)

I think Dhoni is doing a decent job and working with a system that is available to him. Yuvi, Zaheer & Shewag look unfit. Irfan, Balaji, Zaheer & Ashwin, are the weakest on the field. Ishant Sharma had one fantastic test series against Ponting but he average around 40 something in Test. Dhoni has been the best thing for India only because he has managed his resources well. When your supporting cast like Shewag & Ghambir, Tendulkar Harbajan and Zaheer have not performed as they did under Gary Kirsten, the Indian team will struggle. Raina and some of the new bats have yet to established them selves which makes things just as difficult. Over the last few months, India won because of Kholi. With changes due to arrive in the Indian dressing room, things will only get more difficult for a man who helped the Indian team reach number 1 only 15 months ago.

Posted by Naresh28 on (October 10, 2012, 1:03 GMT)

@indian fans - NO USE ATTACKING AKASH on writing the articles. Actually compared to you and me - he has been an opener and therefore the experience enables him to write good articles. Yes he did not play many games for INDIA, but was an excellent opener in that OPENING IS A VERY DIFFICULT JOB. If an opener could survive the 1st hour he has done a good job for his team. He has written many great articles which are full of technical aspects.

Posted by Naresh28 on (October 10, 2012, 0:50 GMT)

@nampally - Rightly put. We cannot go on having the same results with the same squad. Its in tests that the changes need to be ringed in. It needs to be done with foriegn pitches in mind since most Indian batsman are already good on sub-continent pitches. I would suggest that the top three batsman need to be "tall" in the Dravid mould. Why? cause when facing high bounce it is an advantage. New balls bounce higher than old. I am thinking of JAFFER/LAXMAN used to be good openers.

Posted by Nampally on (October 9, 2012, 23:24 GMT)

What Aakash is saying has also to be related to the talent pool of the Indian team in time frame. When Dhoni became Captain he had Tendulkar, Dravid, Laxman & Sehwag as batsmen consistently producing & ZAK + Harbhajan doing their job in bowling. Yuvraj & others added to the strength. All the above mentioned players have aged/retired or past their best now. So a new bunch of cricketers are to be groomed. Indian Selectors + Dhoni have done a poor job of grooming the right guys in the squad & in the XI resptly. India definitely needs a new outlook. New Selection panel has taken over. India also needs new Captains for 3 formats & do a proper job of Team selection.In Tests Dhoni's irrational moves are exposed. So a new captain needed. C.Pujara is the best guy & has been captaining India A teams. In T-20 Kohli's aggressive capability should give him the leadership. Dhoni can be retianed for ODI's. There is a huge pool of talent from which 3 squads should be selected-thats the challenge!.

Posted by Hyderabadi_Nawab on (October 9, 2012, 23:00 GMT)

Aakash has come up with a superb piece and I agree with all his observations. He has a very good perspective of cricket in general and Indian cricket in particular. With his intimate knowledge of contemporary players he is in quite an enviable position to comment. Aakash - please write more about people who you have played with or against, questions like - why is Sehwag the eternal puzzle (he succeeds when the odds of techniqe and conventional cricketing wisdom are against him) what is driving Sachin to play on even at the cost of eroding his much earned reputation another simple one - why cannot captains in general be more aggressive when a new batsman comes in - for e.g. the score is 104/3 in the 23rd over and the 4th wicket just falls, a spinner is on and the new batsman is given the respect of only 4 fielders in the circle - why can't the captain be aggressive and get the field up - stuff like these..and also a comment on the front foot no-ball rule vs backfoot

Posted by R.AkKi.S on (October 9, 2012, 21:39 GMT)

Well, more than instincts, it was the great team honed & prepared by Saurav that brought results, when Dhoni came in at the beginning. Then, as he meddled with that combination of skilled players,& with the Legends having to "rest" for his attitude, he lost it all.! Gambhir,Sachin,& others had a great year in 2011, (Sachin had the highest avg in the World cup)but he persisted with non-performing "youngsters".

He played a team,depending on spinners on the green pitches of Australia & England, bringing humiliation to us!

The presence of Rohit in the team for so long can never be understood. One can understand the presence of Ashwin and Raina. They play for his team in IPL, and with match-practice at the highest level, it would benefit CSK, & boost his pay further up.

As for him batting up the order in T20's, it would only spell doom. With his hopeless strike-rate, and selfish attitude for a high average, he can easily turn a high scoring match into pebbles.!!

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 21:25 GMT)

Indian team has performed so poorly that their quick exit from T20 2012 WorldCup didn't even bring disappointment to most Indians. They did not deserve to progress. Dhoni's captaincy was so poor that not having a Captain wouldn't have been worse. Definitely its time for him to go (I know most people dis-agree, but would Kohli perform poorly as a Captain?, heck Dhoni didn't do anything, he must have been sleeping behind the Wickets) Go figure!

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 20:53 GMT)

no offence to aakash chopra but he is a much better player than you. Under his captaincy we have won 2 WC NOT UNDER YOURS! He is way better than you as he has job to represent his country out there not just sit here and write articles all day!

Posted by mannan_ma on (October 9, 2012, 20:08 GMT)

Aakash chopra's analysis of dhoni's captaincy is correct. Dhoni has over the years become rigid in his captaincy and more so in his selection policy. he almost finished irfan pathan's career. pathan is luckily not a quitter. Now that Irfan has made a succesful comeback ,Dhoni is at it again.He is again trying to finish irfan by asking him to open the batting.He is reluctant to give Tiwary a chance .I think Dhoni is slowly but surely loosing the mojo.

Posted by Naresh28 on (October 9, 2012, 20:04 GMT)

INDIAN SELECTORS should make a test team from this pool of gutsy young players. Some have already played:- OPENERS - RAHANE, VIJAY, S DHAWAN, A MUKUND MIDDLE ORDER - PUJARA, KOHLI, MENARIA, MANDEEP, RAYUDU, BIST FAST BOWLERS - ISHANT, AARON, YADAV, SREESANTH W/K - SAHA, OHJA SPINNERS - ASHWIN, P OHJA, RAHUL SHARMA SEAMERS - PATHAN, PRAVEEN KUMAR YOUNGSTERS - CHAND, SANDEEP SHARMA, RISHI DHAWAN, HARSHAL PATEL

Posted by cjscanada on (October 9, 2012, 19:52 GMT)

Dhoni, I agree is not the same as when he started out but he is certainly weighed in with expectations. Bhajji is not the same as he was before. Everyone blamed Dhoni for missing SA. If you saw the game against England, the only reason why Bhajji succeeded was the players felt he was pitching in a minefield. I did say at the time that I would reserve my comments after I see him perform in a few games, as I was not convinced. Rohit is a creation of Dhoni I think and probably he wanted him to succeed. He is talented no doubt and so was Vinod Kambli but where do you draw the line. It is here where I feel Dhoni erred. I still believe he is the best to lead as I certainly do not see anybody else. My opinion on the other contenders Sehwag and Gauti, I feel they are sentimental and not hardened players. Due to Dhoni's stand in Aus on the rotation, these guys are affected. For T20 a different squad is req. maybe guys like Raydu, Manish, Utappa and I am surprised there was no Yusuf in SL.

Posted by cjscanada on (October 9, 2012, 19:38 GMT)

It is funny how sometimes people do not point out the flaws of the public and the critics too. Please do not push our star batsman into the hot seat for captaincy. India will be all the poorer. To put it in perspective, Ganguly was the most tactical and thinking Captain and whatever he touched turned Gold and Dhoni should be happy for the core group left behind. Dhoni, to his credit had an excellent group of cricketers to take him to the top and what must be said was that he certainly was a headstrong person but a very cool and unruffled player. When you are new it is easy to take decisions and make changes as you are not expected to perform. Take the case of the T20 team. Nobody expected the team to perform but they had the right blend of power and athleticism to get them going. Once you win a cup there is always expectancy. the critics came hard on Dhoni for dropping Sehwag but what was the outcome? Same with Yuvi. They wanted to drop him, so let's talk about the good too Akash!

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 18:55 GMT)

No offense Akash Chopra...but who are you??? also, Manjrekar, Shastri and Gavaskar???? Really??? When I was growing up all we saw was India losing most of the matches, never won the world cup etc... and suddenly you guys come up with all this insights??? If you guys are so brilliant then why didnt to use it to win during your time....all that matters is Dhoni won us 2 world cups and a lot more. So please stop this pretense of knowing him and starting off positive and then degrading a true champion.

Posted by Scrop on (October 9, 2012, 18:33 GMT)

Bang on!! Akash has put what was running in my mind.

Its the fear of failure of "one of the best Indian skipper" Dhoni is letting him take safety first approach. Whereas the earlier "inexperienced skipper" Dhoni dint have any fears of failure, who was instinctive and innovative to catch the opposition off-guard.

Posted by WC2011Champs on (October 9, 2012, 18:31 GMT)

Great article and hope Dhoni gets to read it! Media is of lesser importance than the gallery. Play with your heart and people will praise you. You will win more and media will no choice but to glorify you. I clearly remember the turning point in Dhoni's approach came when settling for a draw in the third test in NZ. That was not Dhoni-like and the call probably originated from an external source. And then the drawn test in WI. The England and Australia tour not only dented the ageing batting lineup confidence but made Dhoni ever more circumspect. The WC t20 game against OZ was played with extreme caution and the result was obvious. I think we can get our Dhoni back - Just get him a highly positive coach and a good positive vibes in the dressing room.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 17:03 GMT)

Remove the old guns from team, likes of Gambhir, Sehwag, Zaheer and ofcourse most talented Rohit (because he did lot to the Indian cricket already). Explosive Sehwag hasn't played any good innings after 2009 and so others. This in itself will promote the youngsters to the national side and likely said , Select separate captains for each format. Still Dhoni is the best bet for 20-20 and ODI. Test team we need a good captain, so we can relieve Dhoni from his test captaincy reponsibilities.....!

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 17:01 GMT)

I think this guy doesen't really know what "punting" means. Punting in American football is actually "playing it safe" by kicking the ball deep into the opponent's territory instead of taking a risk and having one's 'drive' stalled right then and there. Thats the opposite of what is implied here! A "hail Mary" would have been more appropriate analogy...otherwise the writing is nice. Check your facts before writing a whole freaking article dude...

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 16:44 GMT)

superb article........ he is persisting wid same bunch of young players but don't wana give oppurtunity to seniors who r out of form.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 16:43 GMT)

Looking at the subject line made me not read this article. Akash has done incorrect analysis .Dhoni was never instinctive he always had plans and strategies and was able to improvise under pressure.Ganguly was more instinctive

Posted by xylo on (October 9, 2012, 16:26 GMT)

You might also want to take into account the team that he was given to play with by the selectors.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 16:21 GMT)

Indian team has performed so poorly that their quick exit from T20 2012 WorldCup didn't even bring disappointment to most Indians. They did not deserve to progress. Dhoni's captaincy was so poor that not having a Captain wouldn't have been worse. Definitely its time for him to go (I know most people dis-agree, but would Kohli perform poorly as a Captain?, heck Dhoni didn't do anything, he must have been sleeping behind the Wickets) Go figure!

Posted by ProdigyA on (October 9, 2012, 15:57 GMT)

Excellent article and the correct time. Its high high time to relieve Dhoni of one format. T20 for sure. Virat should be made the captain of T20 with all young guns in the team and get rid of GG, Viru, Zak, Bhajji, Dhoni and any other overweights in there. Personally, i dont think Dhoni even deserves a place in the Test side forget about captaincy. But for ODI's, MS is the man for now. I really hope the new selection team will take some brave decisions. But i really doubt it with Srinivasan at the top, he is big time politician.

Posted by Nampally on (October 9, 2012, 15:39 GMT)

I do not think that Indian team wants Dhoni to be unconventional, as the sub heading reads. Actually Dhoni is very unconventional. He needs to identify the Teams "Needs" & select a XI accordingly. For example Rahul Sharma is a specialist bowler for the Short formats - ODI's & T 20. Why was he benched for a stretch of 10 games then given chance for one match & benched again for 10 games. When a player is in the squad, it is not for Benching! Dhoni's lack of foresight/vision is a huge handicap. His field placing is bizarre & tactics irrational. India needs a Captain who is rational & addresses the team's deficiencies by getting right players to do the job. If Indian bowling is weak why is it never addressed? If the opening batsmen are failing why not get new openers? If the middle order is failing why is Rohit Sharma in it? Logic based on proven performance should be the selection basis rather than Dhoni's gut feeling!Young Pujara has proven to be more logical & rational leading India A.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 15:35 GMT)

MSDhoni is greatest captain ever India produced

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 15:33 GMT)

Exceptional article.. The way of narration is awesome, feels like watching a good movie. Saying that, dhoni has every right to be defensive, a captain can be attacking only when he has world class bowlers at his disposal. A waning zaheer who did not have a 5 for over the past 4 years as the number one bowler of india says it all. In a crunch position, pak has ajmal, SL has malinga/mendis, west indies has narine, SA has steyn and morkel.. there is no one india can call upon under such circumstances. So dhoni is bound to be defensive.. rather than attack and look like an ass.. just like what happened to ponting, ponting in his heydays had mcgrath, warne, gillespe and lee.. and no matter what he did, he looked like an attacking captain.. but once they were gone he looked pathetic..

The only instance where dhoni goofed up was in west indies, where india should have gone after the target in the fourth innings rather than calling it a day

Posted by raghavan88 on (October 9, 2012, 15:25 GMT)

Good Article,I miss the Dhoni of Yore badly who would take risks with captaincy and batting.But I still back him as Captain because there aren't replacements yet.Virat Kohli needs some more time,preferably till the 2015 World Cup to be ready for the job.Also India have no keeping allrounder better than Dhoni to replace him.

Posted by inswing on (October 9, 2012, 15:03 GMT)

Dhoni has always been a defensive and negative captain, but when the players are in form everything clicks. Every decision looks like a stroke of genius. But refusing to change the team during the 4-0 loss in England, and then again during the 4-0 loss in Aus, reeks of rigidity. Perhaps there is too much emphasis on loyalty and friendship. A national team has to be chosen professionally, not simply based on friendship and loyalty. Unless you are able to drop nice guys and friends who have failed consistently, you will never be able to win over a period of time. Especially when the serirs is lost and so many young guys are waiting in the wings.

Posted by jango_moh on (October 9, 2012, 14:49 GMT)

dhoni has alwys had huge luck even when he made perplexing decisions like bowling joginder sharma(that was not an inspired move by any stds), but i dont want to blame him completely.... i think dhoni is a good captain in odis and t20s, and i would still keep him.... its TESTs that ppl need to concentrate on, dhoni should be sacked of captaincy in tests, and lose his place, he's just not a good wk/batsman in tests.... he doesnt hve the technique for it... nor is he an attacking captain in tests, playing someone like vinaykumar in AUS was i think the tipping point ..bring in saha, or even dinesh kartik.... i hope selectors can see the difference b/w odis/t20 and tests!!!

Posted by A.Ak on (October 9, 2012, 14:21 GMT)

He did that really well for the past 5 years or so. thats a long time. I think its time to free him. He deserves a break. Try out new captains in limited over games. Most importantly, drop all the senior batsmen from the T20 internationals.

Posted by bvnathan on (October 9, 2012, 14:08 GMT)

Aakash - A captain is a member of the team and his success depends on the team composition, and this is true for any team sport in this universe. As some readers have responded, India's inability to unearth and nurture new talents is a BIG BANE. There are names listed out as potential newbies, but the truth is that newbies are not there yet ... except a barring few like Virat, Pujara etc. Dhoni could enjoy success and experiment earlier in his role as captain, as he had the services and reliance on experienced seniors. It is natural that as a human being, after having tasted success, it may be a bitter pill to swallow setbacks with the newcomers - the reason being all readers, writers and commentators would be asking for Dhoni's head for not delivering. As a unit BCCI, its selectors and the state associations have failed miserably to see the BIG PICTURE, to maintain the standards and enrich the bench strength, in spite of having such a massive resource at its disposal. JAI HIND

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 13:58 GMT)

Lovely article Aakash!! I still dont know why the likes of Umesh Yadav & Ajinkya Rahane didnt play this world Cup?

Posted by Alexk400 on (October 9, 2012, 13:48 GMT)

Dhoni is greatest captain after kapildev. There are many people gunning for Dhoni's head. All experts do not like dhoni. For me dhoni win with his SKILL "LUCK" , people say he is instinctive but i do not think so. His moves are either stupid or inspiring depends on luck of the day. No brain involved. It worked so long. Other than luck he made india play as a team and give space for people. May be it was kirsten influence that gave space. Because once duncan fletcher got involved sehwag gone south just like during greg chappell period. For me dhoni is done. But knowing BCCI they will stick with dhoni as long as possible until everyone wants his head. For me there is interim alternative. Raina as captain until kohli learn things and not put too much pressure on his batting.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 13:46 GMT)

@Ab Rar, the same politics applies to PCB as well. Nearly a billion population, but not even a great batsman in Pak team. This is illogical as well, isn't it?

Posted by indianfan535 on (October 9, 2012, 13:40 GMT)

"if gamblers start worrying about the odds, they would never gamble." Brilliant.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 13:31 GMT)

Agree with ur comments about dhoni India"s best captain for a long time ..! Every single international team has atleast 2 good fast bowlers ..! Has India got even one ..! Wen Zak goes wrong everything goes wrong .! How long for godsake u will rely on Indian batting and spin bowling ..! Train these guys to bowl atleast min 150 kph like others.! Get the fitness attitude in ..! U are playing for India not strolling in a park wen u are in ground ..! Trust me I am keen lover of this game almost watch all the Indian matches played ..! Tell me tomm that I will selected in team after 9 months I will give my best to bowl and bat like others ..!

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 13:30 GMT)

There are some of the biggest and unfathomable reasons in Dhoni's mind. He is the best limited over batsman, yet he chooses not to come up the order. Let alone Twenty-20, the case is similar in fifty over matches. He should have been sacked as test captain, right after those 8 humiliating loses overseas. He is batting record is mediocre in test cricket. If he is not a good captain, his batting performance does not save a grace for him in test matches. Wrridhiman Saha deserves a longer run in longer format. In India people are reluctant to change. They can't see Sehwag out of team irrespective of pathetic bating display. Dhoni is also reluctant to see a change in captain ship, especially after he is being helm ed as an inspiration and idolised.

Posted by Nampally on (October 9, 2012, 13:28 GMT)

A fine write up on Dhoni, Aakash. I have been amazed at the inflexibility of Dhoni during the past 4 years. He chooses a XI & does not change it come hell or high water!. He benched Rahul Sharma,Rahane & Tiwary unjustifiably for so long that the Selectors replaced Rahul with Chawla & dropped Rahane for the T 20 WC. Tiwary spent all his games on the bench again. Dhoni's captaincy in the Test matches is unimaginative/irrational & his footwork against the Aussie & England pace bowlers was shockingly uncultured. Irrespective of his past glory, it is time to replace Dhoni with Pujara, as the Test matches skipper.Pujara has been leading many India A teams in domestic & overseas cricket very well. Dhoni can captain ODI's where his tactical blunders will be less apparent. Kohli should lead T 20. This minimizes India's chances of risking losing talent due to Dhoni's tunnel vision selection of XI. India has a lot of talented youngsters who need to be encouraged not benched like Rahul & Tiwary!.

Posted by Sultan2007 on (October 9, 2012, 13:20 GMT)

First of all , I'd like to say how much i enjoy reading Aakash's insights on matters of cricket. In this particular case though, I am of a contrary view. I dont believe Dhoni has changed per se. I think he is adapting to changed circumstances. To come in No 7 behind the Big 4 as he did , is one thing but to himself have to perform as a Big 4 is something else entirely. He simply doesnt have the freedom anymore. Which in my view, is what makes his innings in the WC '11 finanl so special. As far as gambling instincts are concerned, one has to have some chips in one's pocket to place a bet. In this transitionary phase of Indian cricket, MSD has very few. And above all, he has to be defensive because he has to limit the potential psychological damage on the team should they have a series of big defeats as in Englandf and and Aus. Presently the team is at best competent. It doesnt have match winners either in bowling or batting.

Posted by squarepeg on (October 9, 2012, 13:11 GMT)

One must also account for another issue. The current team is desparately short of class. Some class players have retired, and some older established players have clearly past their peak - Sachin, Zahir, Sehwag, Harbhajan, Irfan, Gambhir, Yuvraj. Of the younger players, only Virat Kohli and Ashwin have turned up with some performance. Many others have not done justice to the chances they got - Ishant, Rohit, Piyush, Munaf, Yusuf, Sreesanth, Raina, Murali Vijay... one can go on and on. The other three who have not yet got enough scope are Rehane, Pujara and Tiwary; not one bowler or all-rounder in them. The second is there is too much cricket and Dhoni must be drained from being the captain in all three formats plus of CSK.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 12:52 GMT)

While its commendable to be able to list so many specific instances, both in favor of Dhoni and against him, it is inevitable that one can find these for a captain who has been at the helm for 5 years plus. The fact is that there would have been a lot of instances of "inflexibility" in his initial years as captain - ditto for "innovative leadership" in recent times. One can twist stats to lead to any conclusion. Trying to compare the current mindset of a person who has played international cricket for many years with his mindset when he started out is a futile exercise. I am no happier with the recent results Dhoni has achieved than Aakash or anybody else is - but this article is disappointing.

Posted by sports99 on (October 9, 2012, 12:45 GMT)

INDIA lost T20 2012 world cup just because of Dhoni's one stupid decision of playing 3 specialist spinners against Australia - period

Posted by N.R.S on (October 9, 2012, 12:40 GMT)

Its very easy to analyse or finding a mistake committed from others. As of now Dhoni has done good enough job as captain. Yes too much cricket, politics, media and differences within the team playing in his mind and reflecting in some games. So far he is most successful captain. Now he is facing lot of problem with his team bowling, he is out of options. No young bowler looks promising. we can say Dhoni would have given chance to this guy that guy, but we people should also back him.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 12:40 GMT)

Surprisingly, the kiwis have better bowlers now then this bharti side. This is gross injustice to a country with a billion of population. There arent any quality pacemen in their? This is illogical. Maybe politics is on a high.

Posted by Raki99 on (October 9, 2012, 12:31 GMT)

If not DHONI? The question is WHO will lead the Side. Kohli is not ready, sehwag and ghambir can hardly hold their place in the team on the current form. The greats have retired. The team is going through a rebuilding phase and dhoni is the only one who can guide them through this phase. May be in the 20/20 somebody can take the chage but not in the odis and Test.

Posted by himohan007 on (October 9, 2012, 12:24 GMT)

@ guyfawkes43 other fielders were running hard to defend 121. I think you watched the match b/w Autobots & Deceptcions in Saturn LOLZ. I watched the our Indian players (Shewag,Gambir,Zaheer,Aswin,Rohit,Balaji) pathetic lazy slomo fielding. And that's half of our team including semi fit Yuvi. Then how could Dhoni place aggressive fielding with these players. I could not for get the joke of that day Shewag injured for jumping after Irfan wicket. In such case Dhoni's burden is double to hide these players on the field.By the way I am Indian.

Posted by sanmaha on (October 9, 2012, 12:23 GMT)

People like Aakash Chopra, Nikil Chopra sanjay manjrekar are wrost ever players of indian ex cricketer this fools are talking about Dhoni shame this guys Dhoni is greatest ever captain after kapil dev other captains are mad

Posted by Naresh28 on (October 9, 2012, 12:03 GMT)

As USUAL we come back to the same analysis of team India. POOR BOWLERS and BAD OPENERS. We used to win matches when ZAKS and GAMBHIR/SHEWAG were on top - no more. Our middle order get exposed like openers when openers fail and our bowlers cannot defend low scores. Only when we have a good batting cushion score do we win. Not to mention the AGING players we carry.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 11:52 GMT)

In general I would agree with the author of this article. However what is being called instinctive went hand in glove with luck. Over the last few months, MSDs luck has deserted him. This in turn has made him a different looking captain. He is not sure of himself or his team. He is probably insecure of his place in the squad as his own form is poor, to say the least. His bull-headedness on keeping some player out and some in, seems to stem from his insecurity. Keeping out Bhajji, Sehwag, Tiwari and Rahane. While insisting on Rohit Sharma. I do hope better sense prevails. MSD has to find his form and luck for Indian cricket.

Posted by Navin2015 on (October 9, 2012, 11:52 GMT)

dhoni changed the direction of indian cricket..he will be back soon..

Posted by AKhand on (October 9, 2012, 11:51 GMT)

I absolutely disagree when u say that dhoni has lost gambling instincts. Just as u said that playing yusuf and joginder at crucial times was a gamble, similarly giving the ball to rohit sharma was a gamble. its another matter that it didnt come off. The gambler is alive...only thing is he is losing his bets nowadays.

Posted by munibkhan on (October 9, 2012, 11:49 GMT)

They say: "Nothing succeeds like success". Dhoni is a victim of his own success - while his tactics were getting wins and trophys he was considered prophetic, now he's considered rigid.

Posted by Valavan on (October 9, 2012, 11:22 GMT)

Nice Article, but i feel strange when those who call for Dhoni's head were those who made him feel like a God, superman etc. IPL really destroyed the cricket as a sport, Blaming Dhoni for Laxman's exit isnt right, if India as a team, they know their past 9 tests away, i mean from the dominica test, Laxman,Dravid and Sachin offered nothing. Sachin looked for his milestone only, others didnt have the same reflexes which they had some 15yrs ago. Kohli cannot become a cool captain until he sorts out antics similar to kevin Pietersen. Dhoni should continue for atleast next 2 years else it will be just PANIC IN THE BUSH. Dhoni was instinctive and lady luck was favoring him, seems he ran out of fuel. cricinfo please publish.

Posted by getgopi on (October 9, 2012, 11:03 GMT)

Dhoni will bounce back. He knows by now his current way of playing it safe is not working. He knows India will likely never produce a fast bowler like Steyn or Siddle. He knows its unlikely that an Indian player in his mid-30s will ever field like how a Ponting or a Hussey can in their mid-30s. The smart (and simpler) thing for him to do would be to just go back to his original form of captaincy and make use of whatever player strengths are available to him. I still feel Gambhir should be given the test captaincy. What I don't know is if Dhoni will play under Gambhir's captaincy.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 10:59 GMT)

Time has come for a change in Captaincy of T20 to Kohli and in Tests, either Sehwag for a time period till Kohli or Pujara ready...fed up of Dhoni's captaincy tactics

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 10:29 GMT)

agree with u akash,,great post martem of dhoni's captaincy

Posted by g.narsimha on (October 9, 2012, 10:06 GMT)

He should have been shown the door immidiatly after 8-0 humiliation in ENG-AUS, no captain in any other cricking country would not have survived , he is ordinery at test level & his rigidness in having certain ordinary players in the team at the expense of deserving players is not helping the team, besides his worsreni ng relation with seniors , its already over due we must have a new captain for upcoming serieses .VIJJU RUBY - It appears u are not a regular watcher of cricket otherwise u would not have posted such an illogical coments this time around it is our bowlers who contributed by taking all ten wickets in IND wins 4 out of 5 , except AUS not team could dominat our bowling it is famed bats men who failed us including captain.

Posted by mukesh_LOVE.cricket on (October 9, 2012, 9:57 GMT)

Dhoni the captain is still as good as he was , but the truth is no captain in the world could win with a bowling attack like that of India.its simple , we need FAST bowlers , because no matter what the pitch or condition all great teams are built around their pacemen , India also reached rank 1 in tests when Zak performed at his peak

Posted by VVS_a_class_act on (October 9, 2012, 9:52 GMT)

@vijju_ruby ...The bowling attack which bowled out oppostion 4 times out of 5 in the tournament is LAME????? So called lethal or strong bowling attacks can't manage more than twice this feat.

Posted by kamesh. on (October 9, 2012, 9:46 GMT)

Awesome observation Akash Bhai..I really liked your observation...To be honest daily i check cricinfo for this kind of articles only..You are amazing... if you find any chance try to communicate this analysis/observations to Indian Captain(who ever it may be) or seniour players in Indian cricket who really thinks about Indian cricket or likes of Virat Kohli. I took Kohli name because i see the passion to win and pain of loss in him. Example is his tears after India knocked out in T20 against South Africa Match.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 9:27 GMT)

I think india's major prblem lies with pace bowling where we dont have economical and wicket taking bowlers in the team who disturb the batsmen just like we had in the past like Srinath/kapil dev/Sreesanth to handle beat opposition as every time batting cannot win u matches we saw we lost just one game in entire tournament still we dint qualify but westindies lost two matches still they went on to win the world cup. So blaming Dhoni for failures is simply giving excuses and putting the blame on one man who hasnt done any mistake he has been consistent with his wicket keeping and batting he is the no.1 finisher in world cricket today. so we need to find bowlers who should be economical as well as wicket taking. I still remember australias team which use to score mere 200 but their bowlers use to bowled out opposition under 200. That kind of luxury Dhoni dont have. so its simply nonsense criticising his tactics and captaincy.

Posted by joseyesu on (October 9, 2012, 9:26 GMT)

With the kind of bowling attack, even a good captain can be defency...Atleast name a single aggressive bowler in Indian bowling. Say Steyn/Morkel/Malinga/Pattinson/Siddle/Best

Posted by bipulkumar on (October 9, 2012, 9:21 GMT)

I agree that his captaincy in current T20 leaves many questions open. I also feel that some of his decisions were incorrect. But with current state of the team he still looks the best who can lead. Elders are on the verge of retirement or out of form and youngsters are still settling down.

Posted by guyfawkes43 on (October 9, 2012, 9:14 GMT)

He was never defending 121 vs south africa.rest of the team had more intent in defending 121 they were running hard and putting effort but dhoni was defending 150 if you look at the field placements after 6 overs,cool as a cucumber ain't he

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 9:12 GMT)

Just a comparison between the HYPER TALENTED Rohit Sharma and Ambati Rayudu, who Harsha Bhogle described has the hunger to succeed. In IPL 2012, talented Rohit has scored 433 runs @30.92 with a strike rate of @126.60. Rayudu on the other hand scored 333 runs from 15 innings @132.14 with an average of 37 per match. I am sure there is more n the list who has scored better than Rohit who has scored more like Rahane who scored 560 from the same amount of matches. Is Rohit still the most talented? Or the selectors are not talented enough to the talent of other players? The only thing i have noticed so far of Rohit doing consistently is that to let having the ball sneak through his bat and pad and get bowled. He is immensely talented in doing that game after game. What a talent.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 9:04 GMT)

It's time for the captaincy change. I would like to see young generation lead India.

Posted by vijju_ruby on (October 9, 2012, 8:57 GMT)

No captain can survive with such a lame bowling attack.. Apart from Ashwin in the team travelled to T20 WC no other bowler seemed capable of picking wickets...Look at other teams most of them succeeded just because they have a credible bowling unit.The selectors should take the blame for selecting such a poor bowling attack.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 8:57 GMT)

It's time for the captaincy change. I would like to see young generation lead India.

Posted by sachinanddravid on (October 9, 2012, 8:45 GMT)

Its a great article by A.Chopra.Everything is ok but MS has to be replaced in T20 and Tests immediately.there are better keeper cum batsmen than mr.cool there in India.He is a better finisher in ODI but in T20 having a strike rate of 109 is not enough and this is the right time for kholi or raina to take over the captainship in T20 so that it ll be useful for them to take the captainship in odi and tests in later part.

Posted by i_witnessed_2011 on (October 9, 2012, 8:18 GMT)

Another good observation Akash... I can think of two reasons for Dhoni's transformation: 1. He may be tired. Due to continuos non stop cricket,Captaincy,WK and pressure, His mind is less instinctive now. 2. Lack of competition: After winning the ODI WC, There was no real competition for Dhoni. He said "he wont mind start all over again" but I did not see the motivation to do that again.

In my opinion, Relieving him from one of the formats (preferably tests) may give him the required rest and force him to be more competative. Having said that another point you need to consider is Dhoni is at his best as captain, When his bowlers are performing. That is the reason he always rely on pitches and even asks for rank turners. So if bowlers perform, Dhoni looks better captain again!

Posted by sakthivelsundaresan on (October 9, 2012, 8:08 GMT)

Well written Akash. Lot of truth in this article.

Posted by Muyeen on (October 9, 2012, 7:37 GMT)

I dont think Dhoni has not changed much as captain.bowling Joginder sharma wasnt instinct decision,Dhoni has revealed himself that he knew Joginder was last over specialist and had experience doing so, may be not at world stage n world cup but then harbhajan too did not have that experience. Aakash Chopra in the course of article proves the point Dhoni hasnt changed because he takes example of Piyush Chawla in 2011WC and Dhoni promoting himself in WC2011 final which came after being rigid with chawla. We are relating everything to results which is not a good way to judge in sports.

Posted by S.Jagernath on (October 9, 2012, 7:37 GMT)

M.S Dhoni is not the perfect captain & a horrible wicketkeeper with a batsman's batting ability.I feel that India needs a new captain,but no names come up when thinking of a successor.Gambhir & Sehwag are very lucky to still be in the Indian team & they are the most likely successors.India just has to stick with Dhoni until Cheteshwar Pujara or Virat Kohli can take over.

Posted by visht20 on (October 9, 2012, 7:34 GMT)

Honestly, Dhoni is just another ordinary captain with some good players in his team. His batting in Test Cricket is so pathetic that even a tailender batsman like Ashwin looks more better than him. Despite whatever average he has in Tests i've never seen him score a hundred or rather a 30+ score in a tense situation. All he played was one good inning in the World cup final that too when India had a good runrate goin even at 3 wickets down. This can be seen on many occasions that he promotes himself whenever India is in a better position. Why doesn't he do the same when the situation is tough? He has never won a match for India in Tests, T20 is a gamblers game. Dhoni(read Slogger) is just lucky to have good players around him and achieve whatever he has on the credit of other player. Its time that Indian Cricket moves on and gives a chance to someone who deserves the captaincy.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 7:10 GMT)

Well written Aakash ji. Great analysis. Yes he's become very defensive now & not willing to take challenges like he used to before.

Posted by VivtheGreatest on (October 9, 2012, 6:40 GMT)

Dhoni is vastly overrated. His tactical acumen is ordinary and he gives countless chances to certain players despite repeated failures ,while totally ignoring others Ganguly was a far better leader of men. The main factor in Dhoni's success, Lady Luck has deserted him now and on pure cricketing merits he doesnt deserve a place in the Test or T-20 teams. It's time for some hard decisions and change

Posted by analyseabhishek on (October 9, 2012, 6:39 GMT)

Thanks to his cricketing experience, writing skills and astute observations, Akash Chopra paints a picture which was not previously seen! Hats off sir!

Regarding Dhoni, it may be remembered that this guy has probably handled more pressure and physical rigour than anyone else. Being a wicketkeeper, specialist batsman (averaging 50+ in ODIs and 37+ in tests- averaging 27 in 7 away tests is declared a failure!) and captain in ALL THREE FORMATS, plus the IPL where BCCI chief is breathing down his neck for results! Dhoni still managed some phenomenal results and due respect and credit must be given to him.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 6:23 GMT)

Brilliant article Akash. I just registered on cricinfo just to say that !

I watch cricket on TV and watch it on mute (seriously).Dhoni seems to me a guy who values confidence. Manoj never seemed confident (even after he scored his last hundred). On 2007 T20 final I will never forget the look on Harbhajan's face after Misbah hit him for that huge six over mid wicket. I also read Dhoni's argument on "endgame tactics". He argued that when situation is tough, you are high on hearth beats and are more likely to mishit.Hence its better to wait till opponent is high on heart beats and likely to give you loose balls to hit.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 6:21 GMT)

Superb article. May be only a professional cricketer like Aakash can find those nuances of Dhoni's capability and his current struggle, which an emotional cricket fan cant.

Posted by KishorKumar25 on (October 9, 2012, 6:09 GMT)

Good Analysis, Chopra. As always.

Posted by MJ1234 on (October 9, 2012, 6:08 GMT)

Very true. Dhoni has been ultra conservative at times - eg. not going for a outright win in the test series against Eng. and NZ in 2009 and WI in 2011 since the series was already ours. He has been too stubborn in retaining players like Piyush Chawla and Rohit Sharma and not giving Ajinkya, Manoj and Badrinath a fair run. His handling of Laxman's exit has also raised a few eyebrows. Also, he does not seem to change his batting style in recent times - too many dots at the beginning of the innings and leaving too much to do in the final overs. Hope he returns soon to his instinctive style of leadership and goes back to his flamboyant, destructive batting style for the good of Indian cricket.

Posted by yogi.s on (October 9, 2012, 6:07 GMT)

Really good point that aakash chopra makes here..success over a period of time can also bring a fear of failure(to his credit Greg chappell made the same observation when he was india coach). It is pretty obvious that dhoni's captaincy style has changed a lot over time. One of the biggest worries I have about dhoni is that he seems to see raw pace as a liability and india have two young bowlers who need to be groomed and dhoni with this mindset might hamper their development. A case in point is picking balaji over umesh yadav..balaji did alright in the t20 wc but yadav who could have been a strike option was absent in the squad, I think bcoz of dhoni's perception on pace bowling. India might win at home but to win outside they need a good pace bowling attack.

Posted by Romanticstud on (October 9, 2012, 5:57 GMT)

Why doesn't Dhoni bowl for India then? ... Maybe while someone else keps wicket or two ... He might be India's answer to their bowling problems ...

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 5:51 GMT)

bang on target.. akash.. though i m not a big fan of urs.. bt this time u r absolutely right.. good article boss.

Posted by Pathiyal on (October 9, 2012, 5:39 GMT)

our bowling resources (barring Ashwin) have become weaker and worse to make Dhoni's decisions appear as awkward. he should have something to gamble, right? but i believe he will not repeat the mistakes like excluding an inform Rahane for Rohit Sharma.

Posted by Rahul_78 on (October 9, 2012, 5:32 GMT)

A thought provoking and to the point article. Dont think there are many points one would like to differ from Aakash. The missing link seem to be what exactly transpired in Dhoni to change so drastically over the period of time. In recent times it has become very obvious that the captain is not very happy with the resources provided to him in overseas test tours and world T20. A cricket team be it a club level or a international side is always a captains team. There seem to be clear lack of confidence in the players like Ojha, Munaf and Tiwari on Dhonis part that can justifiy their prolong absence from playing XI. Also it is plain obvious that MSD and rightly so on his part do not want the likes of Veeru and Zaheer playing shorter format of the game. The selectors should give the skipper the resources demanded by him. I guess the rigid team selection and not going all out for glory and playing safe is MSD's way of telling the concerned persons that he is not getting what is needed.

Posted by satish619chandar on (October 9, 2012, 5:20 GMT)

Perfect article. It gives in all the concerns i had on Dhoni till now. Dhoni who dropped Viru for Uthappa in CB series win in Australia, who played two spinners in huge grounds there with Irfan at 7 and the same Dhoni used 7 batters with Irfan at 8 in most games now. WHERE IS THE OLD DHONI?

Posted by Percy_Fender on (October 9, 2012, 4:59 GMT)

Dhoni' present problem which started just after the World Cup win is that he has lost his phenomenal luck. Nothing else can change as far as his captaincy is concerned. Or for that matter his batting. I believe that the luck too is a phase and he may come back to his past great luck if he is persisted with and/or he decides to quit one or the other formats captaincy.He has been accepted as a brand in international cricket because of the wins he has had leading whatever side was given to him. Players from across the globe talk about his calm and intelligent reactions on the cricket field. But if one is guaranteed a win at the end of it because of one's luck then one can indeed be as monk like as M S Dhoni.His decisions as Captain came in for scrutiny only when he started losing. Otherwise all his irrational decisions were called 'masterstrokes' by the media.I hope his good luck returns and he gets to repay England and Australia on their respective home wickets in Tests.

Posted by venkatesh018 on (October 9, 2012, 4:54 GMT)

Remember Dhoni's 8-1 offside field against Katich and Hussey and Zaheer & co. asked to bowl wide of off stump for a whole session in the final Test of the 2008 home series at Nagpur(a Test which India just needed to draw the clinch the series). He has never been shy to go negative if it suited the team.

Posted by rahulcricket007 on (October 9, 2012, 4:35 GMT)

DHONI HAS LIVED HIS LIFE AS A CAPTAIN .TIME FOR KOHLI TO TAKE CAPTAINCY IN ODIS & T20S . ALSO DHONI HIMSELF SAID THAT HE WILL QUIT FROM ONE OF THE FORM IN 2013 .SO IT IS THE RIGHT TIME .

Posted by Mr_Anonymous on (October 9, 2012, 4:07 GMT)

Firstly, I must say that I was extremely disappointed to read the following line: > he happily bowled to Karthik, "his competitor" I do not understand this attitude from you at all. Are you saying that during practice sessions you must should avoid boosting the talent and skills of your team-mates who might be vying for the same spot? What kind of a team would that be? The best thing I can say is that Dhoni did the absolute right thing here for the team and country. He helped Karthik become a better player and he was confident and comfortable knowing that his time would come.

As far as Dhoni the captain is concerned, he is very good at captaining a side when his players perform consistently. If one or 2 (or more) have an off day/series he struggles and we don't have the quality of players to make up for that deficiency. His workload is high (he needs rest) and I would personally relieve him of T20 captaincy immediately (to Kohli) and have a new Test captain groomed before SA 2013.

Posted by Humdingers on (October 9, 2012, 4:01 GMT)

Sending Pujara in was hardly a "master stroke". He was trying to protect Dravid.

Posted by Humdingers on (October 9, 2012, 4:00 GMT)

I disagree that Dohni is/has been one of the best captains going around. Things are easy when the team is going well. When he inherited the team from Kumble he had SRT, Dravid, Laxman all in good form. A great captain (Stever Waugh, Alan Border, Stephen Flemming for example) can make a once ordinary team into a great one (maybe not Flemming's NZ, but you get my point). Look at Ponting. He was winning when he had Gilly, Hayden etc. After they left he couldn't marshal the troops. Same thing with Dhoni. India needs a more dynamic leader. Get Kohli in to captain T-20 and build a young side. Keep Dhoni for ODI's but not as captain. ODI captain and Test captain is tough. Kohli is the right candidate but you don't want his batting being affected just yet.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 3:53 GMT)

Brilliant Article... Can u not communicate this to him?

Posted by YogifromNY on (October 9, 2012, 3:51 GMT)

I used to be one of Dhoni's biggest fans. No more. Aakash's article rings totally true. Sadly, Dhoni is past his 'best by' date and needs to go.

Posted by   on (October 9, 2012, 3:26 GMT)

what a superb article.........just loved every single bit of it..........:)

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Aakash ChopraClose
Aakash Chopra Aakash Chopra is the 245th Indian to represent India in Test cricket. A batsman in the traditional mould, he played 10 Tests for India in 2003-04, and has played over 120 first-class matches. He currently plays for Delhi in the Ranji Trophy; his book Beyond the Blues was an account of the 2007-08 season. Chopra made a formidable opening combination with Virender Sehwag, which was believed to be one of the reasons for India's success in Australia and Pakistan in 2003-04. He is considered one of the best close-in fielders India has produced after Eknath Solkar.

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