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Monday, March 04, 2013

Is this the beginning of Dhoni's Team India?

All articles after the first test at Chennai have been proclaiming the genius of MS Dhoni and how he changed the course of the first test match against Australia. What seems to have gone missing is the slow but steady appearance of a nucleus of what one can call Dhoni's new Team India - one that he seems to be hand-picking very carefully.

What are the changes that are typical of this new team?

  • Opening combination - Gautam Gambhir was dropped because of his lean period with the bat for quite a few tests. His partner, Virender Sehwag, escaped a similar treatment because of his extraordinary record in test matches more than anything. Murali Vijay was the beneficiary - Dhoni's CSK team-mate and one who had made a century against Australia during the previous tour. Vijay's technique was not in doubt but his comeback run was in the wilderness until Dhoni insisted on his presence. People might call it a favour but then what happened in the second test at Hyderabad? A wonderful century for Vijay who put on a record triple century partnership with Pujara. If this is not foresight, what is? Well, one might say that it is too early to call him a success but his run in the home tests will give him enough confidence for the tougher conquests overseas. Sehwag's tryst with low scores continues and there is backup in the form of Shikhar Dhawan in the squad. If Sehwag continues to fail, one should not be surprised to see him making his debut in the last test. What is also important to note is that these players are good movers on the ground and fit enough to run fast - abilities that Dhoni likes to see in his team.
  • Middle Order - the middle-order has Sachin Tendulkar at the core with Pujara and Kohli once again showing their class in opportunities that have come their way. Look out for Ravindra Jadeja to continue on home soil while the likes of Ajinkya Rahane, Rohit Sharma ('special player' is what Dhoni calls him), Suresh Raina, Manoj Tiwary will compete for the sole position. Once again, the common factor for all these players is the fitness and multiple skills they possess. Clear qualities that show what Dhoni has on his mind. Yuvraj Singh was given his chances but he seems to be lacking clearly on the test arena.
  • Bowling - While Ashwin and Jadeja are the preferred spinners, Ojha is not-so because of his relative slowness and lack of batting skills. He will be present in the squad but might play in the eleven only if and when Ashwin lacks form or fitness. On the opening bowlers, Ishant seems to be getting a long rope but not for long (remember he cannot bat and is very slow on the field). Bhuvaneshwar Kumar is the current favorite for all the right reasons. Shami Ahmed might be the next to make his debut while the likes of Dinda and Vinay Kumar might fade away.
If one remembers right, the English tour of 1996, the Indians lost to England but were lucky to get the debuts of Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly. Similarly, the disastrous 1996 tour of Australia saw the emergence of VVS Laxman. Virat Kohli was found during the miserable tour of Australia 2011-12. The South African tour will also be terrible for the Indians but surely one or two batsmen will emerge (and few bowlers hopefully). This will then be the making of the new-generation Team India. One that will be of MS Dhoni's making.
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