Nikhil Talgeri

Sit back, relax and enjoy your flight!

I am guessing MS Dhoni was always drawn towards a career in commercial flying - either as a pilot, or a member of the cabin crew. Of late, and specifically after India's twin debacles in Aus and England over 2011/12, his captaincy style has been one of "sit back, relax and enjoy your flight" with the added line thrown at the batsmen "if you need anything to make your flight more enjoyable, please do not hesitate to contact me, I am standing right behind ya'" .
I guess I am being harsh. But, I miss the fearless Dhoni of 2007-11 where he would be 5 steps ahead of the opposition. He would ring in changes proactively and be creative with his field placements with an intent of creating dot-ball pressure. And his batting was at it's absolute peak. I once heard a commentator say "ooh, the bowler's under immense pressure". India needed 19 in the last over (pressure on the bowler, seriously dude??) and Dhoni was on strike. India won with a ball to spare (and the commentator won my respect).
This has completely changed since those 2 twin-tours. The new Dhoni waits.... waits and waits and waits. For the opposition to make a mistake, for the opposing batsman to charge down and get stumped or caught in the deep. He brings in his weakest bowler to "get rid of his 5th-6th bowler overs" when a new batsman has come in rather than go for the kill. It's as if in his mind, almost every match is destined to go into that last over for which he must save his strike bowlers. Alas, most games outside the subcontinent, are driven by momentum. A shift in momentum usually swings the match in the opposition's favor. And good captains control the game's momentum. Dhoni probably still can do that on the sub-continent, where opposition batsmen run out of patience and start hitting to fielders. But he appears clueless in bouncier conditions.
This is a shame because of late India has players with spunk - Kohli, Rahane, Rohit, Jadeja (Sran looks promising). The bouncing ball doesn't scare the current lot of Indian batsmen as it scared their predecessors. The current fielding unit is as good as any side in world cricket today. They have started playing bowlers who can regularly clock higher 140s kmph every over. So, keeping pressure on the opposition should not be that big of a deal. But, India is missing direction from the top. And which is why, even though I am one of MSD's biggest fans, I think it's the right time for him to hang up his boots. Initially, I thought he should wait till the T-20 WC. But, I think the young team needs a young captain. And just like MSD took the correct decision last Aussie summer of quitting Test cricket , for the sake of Indian cricket, a change of guard now may not be a bad idea.
Time for that plane to land Mahi!
Posted in on January 12 at 12:53 PM

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