The most used computer in recent times, according to Anand Vasu reporting out of Colombo, is the one between MS Dhoni’s ears, and it seems to be telling him that triangulars like the one in Sri Lanka where India opens today, where each team gets only one crack at every other team, is tougher than a bilateral series. His rationale:
“In a bilateral series, as the series proceeds, you get to know more things about a particular player or how he is performing at that time. Subconsciously you plan for his strengths and weaknesses,” explained Dhoni.
“In a three-team competition, specially one like this where you play each team just once, you have to be fully prepared right from the word go.
“You don’t get time to adjust. Batsmen and bowlers have become smarter. You can come up with a plan for a player but on the day he may change the way he plays and still succeed. Countering that is really tough. If Plan A is not working you have to be ready with Plan B.”
On balance, you suspect India might have preferred to play the stronger Sri Lankan team first. You get to test your sea legs against the toughest competition in the tournament, and even if you lose you still have a game against a relatively weaker side to nail your finals spot. This way, India needs to hit the ground running, because a loss today to the Kiwis puts it in do or die mode against the hosts.
Harsha had some thoughts on the lineup, that he shared during our recent chat:
Let’s look at it this way: who is going to open the batting for you? Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar? Gambhir can play in two forms, but he is coming off a bad patch just now [NB: We were chatting last Saturday, before Gambhir ruled himself out with a suspect groin]. Tendulkar is no longer the guy who can hit over the top first ball. And then there is Dravid at three. Who is going to give you a move on?
I honestly am not sure if Rahul should bat at three or five – he has played some of his best one day cricket at five, in 2003-04-05 when he was our best one day player, he was finishing matches with Yuvraj and company, and he took that form into the T20s as well recently where again he batted five.
I would not mind seeing Raina at three because you want to see if Raina has it in him to play at three on all surfaces. You can’t have a situation where our blue eyed boys are very good at batting up the order on flat tracks and have no qualms about going down the order when the going gets tough, and saying Rahul bhai ko aane do na upar. So send Raina at three, Yuvraj at four, Rahul five, Dhoni six. And where does that leave Dinesh Karthik? Every time you pick him he scores, so what do you do with him?
Should be fun — mild fun — to see how they line up, and how they do in the season opener. It’s Friday, I have newspaper production, so watching will be off and on. As will blogging.