He has taken his chances and come out successful, writes L. Sivaramakrishnan
England seems to be no match for a team of youngsters led by an inspired captain. What we are witnessing is the emergence of a new cricketing order in India.
India is now two up in the series with the two victories seemingly very different in character.
No doubt, Yuvraj’s centuries in both the matches guided India to triumph. However, credit must also be given to the guiding hand of India’s captain. Dhoni has proved that he is a shrewd thinker not cowed down by conventional thinking. He has taken his chances and come out successful.
While everyone believed that the Indore pitch would be a belter, Dhoni was far more cautious. When everyone was talking about winning the toss and batting second, Dhoni chose to bat first.
Here was a captain who was not willing to let others dictate his decisions. His judgment could have been under scrutiny when India was reeling at 29 for three.
Change in strategy
Gambhir quickly changed his strategy.
Seeing that the ball was not coming on to the bat, he played closer to his body and was content with the singles and twos, dispatching the occasional loose delivery to the boundary.
Yuvraj who was also cautious until then, freed himself after the free hit off Flintoff and soon India was on a roll. Dhoni was proved right.
The batsmen just needed to adapt and then the runs were there for the scoring.
Yusuf Pathan’s selection was a gamble from many perspectives. The captain’s persistence with the youngster paid off. In both matches, Dhoni took the batting side option of Power-Play when Pathan was at the crease almost as if to say — “I believe you can do it.” And Pathan did not let his captain down.
It is also interesting to see how Dhoni utilised his Power-Play option. In the one-day games the ball is changed in the 35th over. With the new ball being harder, Dhoni brought in his power-play to give his well-set batsmen a chance with the harder ball.
This also forced the England captain to use his best bowlers to contain the run-happy batsmen. However, this meant that the slog overs were given to the lesser bowlers. Either way, the batting side was at an advantage.
Again, when India was bowling, Dhoni demonstrated his cricketing acumen. He chose Yuvraj as the first spin option over Harbhajan, saving the latter for the Power-Play. When Harbhajan was hit for plenty in the power-play, Dhoni quickly turned to his fast bowlers.
After the run-fest, Yuvi came back to claim the two prized wickets of Flintoff and Pietersen. The two wickets that he picked up at this stage, proved to be the turning point of the game.
With both Flintoff and Pieterson out of the way, victory for England was going to be an uphill task.
The batsmen had to spend their time at the crease trying to catch up with the run-rate while Dhoni and his men went for the kill.