World Cup

‘Have to visualise the best options depending on the bowler’

What does a good captain tell a bowler who holds the fate of a match in his hands? Generic phrases like ‘believe in your ability’ or ‘dil se khelo (play with heart)’ are of little help - there is more to it than just clichéd one-liners.

In order to make an informed decision, a leader has to be aware of the strengths of the opposition batsmen as well as his bowler, pitch conditions, and several other factors.

With Bangladesh requiring 11 runs off the final over in a crucial ICC World T20 encounter here on Wednesday, India skipper M.S. Dhoni turned to mediumpacer Hardik Pandya. During the course of the next six balls, it was not just Dhoni who chatted with Pandya, Virat Kohli and Ashish Nehra chipped in too. Whatever was said did work, as India pulled off a dramatic one-run victory.

At the post-match press conference, Dhoni was asked to give some insight into what is said on the field. “We were discussing what would be a good length to bowl — whether to try yorkers, and if so, whether to bowl on the stumps or wide outside off. Depending on the bowler, you have to visualise what the best options are,” Dhoni replied. As the interaction continued, the seasoned campaigner displayed another characteristic which has contributed to his success – keep your cards close to your chest. “I won’t elaborate on what was said (during the last over), because it’s part of our strategy. Maybe I can say more at the end of the tournament,” the wicketkeeper-batsman stated.

Dhoni explained that a good boss listens to his deputies, before executing his plan. “It is important to listen to everyone. In situations like this, you’re trying to manage the chaos. Everyone will have his own opinion, but what you have to do as captain is to see what the strength of a batsman is who is batting, how the wicket is behaving, whether the ball is reversing or not — all these things need to be calculated. You have to assess everything in a very short span of time. At the end of the day, you have to push the bowler to bowl what you feel is right.

Asked to rate Pandya’s performance, Dhoni replied, “As a youngster, you are full of confidence, and that’s where the sport of cricket steps in. You score big in a game, then you don’t for a few games, and then you come back strong. Once you go through these ups and downs, you become a more accomplished cricketer. Pandya did very well today, as he had to bowl under pressure. He was willing to do it, and was ready with his plans.”

For Mashrafe Mortaza, it was a case of hindsight being 20/20. With two needed from three balls, Mushfiqur Rahim and Mahmudullah — two experienced cricketers — both holed out to deep midwicket.

“Everything was fine until the last three balls. We needed just two runs. If we had gotten a single, the fielders would have come in, and then we could have hit a big shot. The loss is very frustrating for the whole team,” Mortaza said.

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Printable version | Nov 28, 2021 3:04:18 AM |

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