The uber captain

A standout moment of the IPL final between Mumbai Indians and Chennai Super Kings was MS Dhoni’s innovative field placement for Keiron Pollard.

Besides a regular long off on the boundary line, MS placed a mid off on the edge of the circle. “We tried this out in practice against Mathew Hayden,” MS later explained. “Bit hitters don’t play reverse sweeps and dabs, they look to hit down the ground,” he further explained, arguing that in such cases, a mishit to a fullish length ball outside off would present a catch to mid off, and if the shot did come off, there was always long off to limit the damage.

Brilliant captaincy, I thought at the time as I watched Mathew Hayden at mid off dive to hold Pollard off a mishit, and thus end any remote chance MI had to pull off a win.

Now I am beginning to wonder.

According to sources, Venkatesan’s influence over Srinivasan and the team has risen to such an extent that he decides who should be included in the playing XI and also, shockingly, the batting order.

Dhoni himself was told to bat at various positions throughout the tournament, sources said, even though he was successful at Nos 5 and 6 in the first two matches.

The decision to open the bowling with off spinner R. Ashwin – thought to be a strategic masterstroke by Dhoni – was also allegedly dictated by Venkatesan, as was the decision to bowl Muttiah Muralitharan’s full four overs quota in all the 11 matches he played. Luckily for CSK, Ashwin’s promotion worked wonders for the team.

According to insiders, Venkatesan even decides Dhoni should bat or field if he wins the toss. Though Venkatesan is over the moon when Chennai wins, sources said he comes up with inane explanations for the team’s loss.

“On one occasion, he said the team lost because someone had parked his car on the western side of the stadium,” an insider said. ” To this, our team owner just nodded his head in agreement.

Link courtesy Manu, on Twitter.

60 thoughts on “The uber captain

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  2. Yeah am wondering if that is the sad direction in which cricket is headed. WWF / WWE is a classic example of that…everybody knows its artificial, but we still watch it. (I don’t personally, but millions swear by it).I hope that’s not true about cricket as well, but if that’s the case, I would personally reconcile to it…cricket is a huge pasion for me like millions of others, and I will have to give a damn about whether it was fixed or not, and continue watching it!


    • After being kicked out of BCCI, Modi will start a new thing: WTE (World T20 Entertainment) with scripted T20 matches!!! Winners will be decided by bidding; and the matches will be scripted to the tune of the bidders. Cool.

    • Fixing is different from favouring. Like the way ferrari is always favoured in F1. There is no explicit fixing going on here. I think Modi tried to favour Mumbai this time. It back-fired in the final I guess. Mumbai froze under pressure, one of the reasons is they had a easy qualification. no hard matches like Deccan/Chennai.

  3. It was interesting to hear Dhoni’s interview on NDTV yesterday, where he did not completely deny the Vastu / Astrology influence, but made it appear light hearted.
    I am trying to make sense of all the non cricketing factors such as luck, astrology, vastu, match fixing, etc etc and trying to map it to the exciting tournament we had.

    There are two scenarios:
    1. The IPL was rigged, fixed, voodoed by a variety of players (bookies in Dubai to astrologers in South India!), and the whole thing was artificial. So in a sense it is like the WWF, or reality TV: great fun, but all artificial. If that is the case then all of our cricketers should be working in Hollywood, Bollywood or Kollywood. I mean, if Dhoni’s captaincy act, or Sachin’s master class batting, or Yusuf Pathan’s blitzkrieg century were all artificial, then these people are the best actors the world have ever seen. Move over Clint Eastwood, Aamir Khan, Tom Hanks, Brad Pitt, SRK…our IPL stars can give you a class in acting!
    2. There have been many elements trying to fix and rig the matches, but at the end of the day it was pure cricket, that made the difference between win and loss.

    I am somehow inclined to go with the second scenario as the entire cricket looked so real to me. Even if it was scenario 1, I don’t give a damn. To me, test cricket is the real thing, and I hope that’s not fixed. So I would be happy in my bubble that there was this side show called IPL which was good fun 🙂


    • That begs a larger question- Whats wrong with fixing a match as long as it gives great entertainment? Suppose that an India-Aus Test is fixed (but we dont know it) so that the test finishes in the last over of the fifth day?

      Whats wrong with artificially created fun? If you tell that it is not sustainable, and detrimental to the game in the long run, then you need to give some damn about both these scenarios.

  4. The franchise model is nothing new to the world of sport and booking is not alone for cricket. If a franchise chose to go that way as you said (taking bribe),It could be a short term benefit but it is losing its value,credibility and more so the support from the people/crowd on the longer run and cannot sustain.

    These Vastu and all the other stuff are smaller factors. It might work one day and might not the other day. Whatever it is, the final 11 has to play to win.

  5. wtf. It looks like there is at least “some” credibility to the story.
    From today’s hindu:

    Vaastu factor

    When on all things controversial, what about the role vaastu has played in Chennai Super Kings’ matches at the instance of owner N. Srinivasan?

    Dhoni, who has reportedly been a little piqued about having to bow to stellar configurations when making cricketing decisions, played defensive:

    “Srinivasan’s vaastu has been good…nothing bad. Every franchise is doing little things. It is subtle…most cricketers are superstitious. No wild predictions like was made in 2007.”

    • Ok. So, Dhoni himself has confirmed the larger part of the story. Nobody is going to talk about the minor details, for sure. So, its no more the captain and the coach making cricketing decisions, its the team owner.

      So, whatif some bookie gives a million dollar to the team owner to come up with a particular team lineup? Cricket is treading on dangerous waters, for sure.

      What is sad is that the Indian Captain, none less, could not prevent it. Thats a shame!!!

      • Nowdays most of the decisions in T20 or otherwise can be made off the field.Example:
        a)If win the toss and bat first or bowl first (can be made based on pitch)
        b)batting order/bowling order-ofcourse it’s a different story if your bowling is tonked
        c)Evn fielding positions for different fielders can be made by support staff.
        d)What if scenarios can also be planned for before the game and this can also be taken care during the strategic time outs.
        Ofcourse the team selections can be made by astrologers,spin doctors and owners or film stars or even the captain likes and dslikes.

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  7. Prem,

    The whole story about the astrologer maybe funny and amusing. But the part about N.Srivinasan earmarked to become the next president is not funny at all. Is that bit true, or the just the imagination of an over eager journalist?

  8. As subhash mentioned, astrologers are dominating lots of tamilnadu, andhra
    In the end, these things also contribute to general public’s cynicism of Godmen, astrolgers. Astrology was developed to organize vedic rites but liberal usage in every field will eventually cause people to lose faith in religion itself…
    But CSK success will make the players feel beholden to chennai and nobody will try to move to another team,
    IPL fiasco, allegations of corruption, influence of astrology etc reminds of 2000 where match fixing reigned and all of us lost faith in cricket until Ganguly and John Wright brought back trust. we are so deluded by our 2007 twenty20 victory that we are forgotting what caused the team to fly high from 2001 to 2010

  9. I just read the clip and thought this guy looks like an astrologer morethan a cricket manager – and coming to the comments I see he indeed is one! – man we are some people!!

  10. As someone who has been following cricket for a long time-I can say this much Dhoni looks great when his team performs and otherwise ordinary.
    Look at 2009 T20 WC,same was the case till CSK struggled to qualify for semis and his decision to leave Murali out,and included Hayden for every match.
    But this is also true for other captains like Waugh and Ponting-they look good when it comes out well.
    On being cool-again disagree-the Badri run out being case in point-he definitely did not look cool neither at the presentation when he mentioned it.
    Everyone was appreciating SRT as a Captain and a Batsman till the finals,everyone is now sticking it into SRT for the Pollard decision?What about his decision to play-while not being fit?His over eagerness could have let down his team or maybe his intent to grab the orange cap?Or does the MI team feel they cannot even enter the field without SRT?One does not need an astrologer -there are many factors-one was the toss itself -if you look at the semis and finals-teams which batted first won-there was no pressure of chasing.

  11. Tamils are freaking nuts about this vastu, numerology, astrology, horoscope crap. As a Tam myself, I can vouch for it, as I am surrounded by this load of BS on a daily basis from family and friends. One of my friend’s sister (Uma), changed the spelling of her name to “Uhma” yeah, that’s right, uh.. Ma! And I vist India after a few years with my new girlfriend-fiance and after the initial pleasantries, my nephew launches in to, “so, when is your birthday?” and goes on to suggest changes to the way she spells her name… So, its not too far-fetched that CSK had a residential astrologer guy.. Of course, its a ridiculous story, but you can’t put anything past a group of crazy Tams.


  12. prempanicker :*grin* None taken — was somewhat surprised by the uber serious way this story was taken here, is all.
    About SRT’s captaincy — that is the problem I’ve struggled with for all of my career, and his. Apparently it is not possible to admire the man for his skills, yet question errors whether of captaincy or in individual innings.
    The dividing line between admiration and sycophancy is something we do not recognize, at least in the cricket universe.

    I think one “defect” in SRT is that his cricketing mind switches off, and misses out some cricketing details, when he is under some confusion and when he is shouldering responsibility. It applies in batting too. I still remember the way he got out in that Sydney test(yes, THAT Sydeney test) second innings. He got a boundary, Gilly came closer to the stumps, and Clarke bowled a very normal good length delivery, SRT did “something” in utter confusion and got an inside edge. It was an act from a cluttered mind. He is not a “cool dude” for sure. But I wouldnt stretch it to figure out that he doesnt handle pressure, like Kapil said once. He has been eating pressure all his cricketing life; so its not about ability to handle pressure, some finer mental skill is missing.

    • I think the big game pressure got to SRT.. I guess he thot that if pollard got out early say in the 12/13th over the rest of the team would have been hardpressed to get the total. Duminy sent ahead can also be attributed to a momentary lapse of reason, that unfortunately cost Mumbai the IPL…Being super kool in such situations helps as seen by dhoni, even after that 22 run over out of nowhere by pollard..

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