Hit or miss

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.

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6 thoughts on “Hit or miss

  1. It makes complete sense to have Dravid at 5 … hence the likely hood of it occuring will be rare.

    Also, i don’t know why Dhoni wants to keep wickets when Karthik is in the team. I want a fresher Dhoni who also has the small additional task of being the team’s captain …

    And, Karthink (IMHO) is a better keeper than Dhoni … by a bit

  2. In ODI and in T20, your best batsmen should play at the top. For this lineup, I would have Sachin and Dravid opening the innings followed by Yuvraj, Dhoni, Raina and Karthik (in that order). If Gambhir had not been injured, he would have opened with Sachin and Dravid would come 3 down after Yuvraj and Dhoni but ahead of Raina and Karthik.

  3. Prem,

    I have always felt India loses important matches to NZ more often than to SL. I think it has rarely won a match againts NZ in world cup or Champions Trophy. SL has all the subcontinent team traits. On it’s day it is too hot to handle and on others it can completely collapse. India has always found it hard against the disciplined NZ effort until the recent ODI series in NZ. But the T20s were the same old story.

    Harsha is right, RD is best used at number 5. That will give Raina and Yuvraj the freedom to attack Mendis\Herath\Bandara\Malinga in the middle overs. Becasue if they poke around against them they won’t last long. This is a important time in Karthik’s career. He is not that bad technique wise. If he clicks in this series, it will serve him really well.

  4. The match would depend on how Shane Bond turns out . Or rather how Indians handle him. SRT and RD will need to play him out and then allow others take care rest of business. With that in Mind Raina at #3 is out of question.

    • From the short term point of view yes. I think Harsha was talking of the larger requirement: if you keep sheltering the youngsters like this [Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma have been identified as potential number threes, but after all this time we are still scared to risk them outside of the subcontinent], and the time comes when you no longer have Dravid, you face big trouble. Harsha’s point was, you need to find and groom your next number three and realize Dravid is only a short term solution — and adding to that point, if you agree that is necessary, then tournaments like this are the best place to do it, not CT and WC and such.

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