Home > Features >

It’s time Mahendra Singh Dhoni took himself as a frontline Test batsman

It's time Mahendra Singh took himself as a frontline Test batsman

When Mahendra Singh Dhoni was finally done partying, the Indian scorecard wore an unbeatable look. Dhoni’s belligerence had planted his team firmly in the driver’s seat © IANS

By Rajaram Suresh

On a hot and humid Sunday at the MA Chidambaram in Chepauk, a sea of Sachinites waited expectantly to watch their God look Heavenwards, bat raised high in one hand and helmet in another. Their wait ended with the master’s stay in the crease, when Nathan Lyon uncorked out a beauty to breach Sachin Tendulkar’s defence. As Tendulkar disappeared into the pavilion, out walked the Indian captain, with an impassive face, bat tucked in arms. As he walked out, there could have been a hint of apprehension about the captain coming ahead of Ravindra Jadeja. But such scepticism was quickly dispelled — and in style.

He batted like a man on a mission as he took the Australian bowlers to the cleaners. He slashed, swept, drove, glanced and caressed the cricket ball with the panache of a maverick that he unquestionably is. It wasn’t the reckless and indiscriminate attacking that batsmen like Virender Sehwag or Shahid Afridi usually resort to; it was a more threatening breed of attack — calculated and firm. The frequency of his extravagant shots and the timing with which he executed couldn’t have been better. He passed one milestone after another as he feasted on the Australian bowling, growing stronger with every passing run. He farmed the strike and protected the tail like a soldier defending a perilous pass. When MS Dhoni was finally done partying, the Indian scorecard wore an unbeatable look. Dhoni’s belligerence had planted his team firmly in the driver’s seat.

The fact that India won the first match could be attributed to numerous factors: the ‘ugly’ Chennai pitch, local boy Ravichandran Ashwin’s finger magic, Sachin Tendukar’s vintage stuff or even the shoddy Australian bowling. However, it was Dhoni’s double century that turned the match on its head. Put Dhoni at No.6 and the Indian batting line-up suddenly looks a different unit. The opening still looks shaky and there is little the selectors can do except wait for two of Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Murali Vijay, Ajinkya Rahane or Shikhar Dhawan to come good consistently. Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli have justified themselves in trying to fill the gaping void left behind by Rahul Dravid and Sourav Ganguly. At No.6, Dhoni can either attack or bide his time at the crease and shepherd the tail.

Looking at the Chennai knock, one can’t help but draw parallels with a certain No.7 batsman that Australia were gifted with in the 2000s — Adam Gilchrist.

There have some clamour to sack Dhoni as India’s Test captain and even drop him from the side if he fails to perform. On the other hand, there knowledgables like Rahul Dravid who feel that Dhoni should bat higher up the order, given his temperament and resilience. With Dhoni batting at No.6, there is now the cushion of playing a specialist batsman at No.7 or a genuine all-rounder — which Jadeja is striving hard to be. At No 8 is Ashwin, a competent bat with a Test century to his credit. That gives considerable depth to the Indian batting line-up.

Come mid-2013, the Indians travel across to South Africa. It has now become a rarity for the South Africans to be a part of a five-day Test match. Such is their impact and sting on unimpressive opponents thus far. Moreover, India is yet to prove their mettle on ‘normal’ overseas pitches. Without the likes of Umesh Yadav and Zaheer Khan, it is near impossible to match their unplayable bowling attack, man to man. With Ashwin coming of age, Harbhajan getting into the groove and Pragyan Ojha breathing down their necks, Dhoni should be on the lookout for that extra pacer, the genuine all-rounder and the pure batsman up the order that he can graft in the team according to the milieu.

Dhoni is 74 Test matches old. From being the sensation with the shocking orange mane to the grey haired captain who bears Atlas’s burden, he has come a long way. It is time he takes himself seriously as a mainstream Test batsman. With his double century, he has shown that he is anything but a misfit in the purest format of the game. The dynamics of Indian batting have changed considerably since the departure of the veteran middle order. However, change need not necessarily be a bipolar concept. Whether the change helps India’s cause will largely depend on how much Dhoni backs himself to cement his boots at No.6.The crowd sweating under the relentless Chennai heat saw the magnificent butterfly. And witnessed the birth of one emerging from the cocoon. Metamorphosis is a testing affair.

(Rajaram Suresh is a student of Naval Architecture and Ocean Engineering in IIT Madras. An avid cricket fan, he also explores his interest in journalism, music, books, and cinema, amongst other things)

World T20 League 2014

Sep 19, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Raipur

World T20 League 2014

Sep 20, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Mohali

World T20 League 2014

Sep 20, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Mohali

World T20 League 2014

Sep 21, 2014 (16:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

World T20 League 2014

Sep 21, 2014 (20:00 IST)   at Hyderabad

More

World T20 League 2014

Sep 18, 2014  at Mohali

Kings XI Punjab won by 5 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 17, 2014  at Hyderabad

Kolkata Knight Riders won by 3 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 16, 2014  at Raipur

Northern Knights won by 6 wkts

World T20 League 2014

Sep 16, 2014  at Raipur

Lahore Lions won by 55 runs

World T20 League 2014

Sep 14, 2014  at Raipur

Mumbai Indians won by 9 wkts

Photos

West Indies vs Bangladesh, 2nd Test at Gros Islet

Videos

Anderson plays golf with Jaguar competition winners

Glenn Maxwell, Thisara Perera guide Kings XI Punjab to 5-wicket victory against Hobart Hurricanes in CLT20 2014

Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) vs Hobart Hurricanes CLT20 2014 Match 2: Hobart Hurricanes’ likely XI

Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) vs Hobart Hurricanes CLT20 2014 Match 2: KXIP’s likely XI

Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) vs Hobart Hurricanes CLT20 2014 Match 2: Key battles

Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) CLT20 2014 Match 1: Highlights

Bangladesh vs West Indies Champions League T20 Champions League T20 2014 Chennai Super Kings CLT20 CLT20 2014 CSK vs KKR Hobart Hurricanes Kings XI Punjab KKR vs CSK Kolkata Knight Riders Mumbai Indians Northern Knights Pakistan West Indies

Javed Miandad says Pakistan can do well in ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 without Saeed Ajmal

Glenn Maxwell, Thisara Perera guide Kings XI Punjab to 5-wicket victory against Hobart Hurricanes in CLT20 2014

Kings XI Punjab vs Hobart Hurricanes, 2nd match of CLT20 2014: Glenn Maxwell dismissed by Evan Gulbis

Kings XI Punjab vs Hobart Hurricanes, 2nd match of CLT20 2014: Manan Vohra dismissed by Ben Laughin

Kings XI Punjab vs Hobart Hurricanes, 2nd match of CLT20 2014: David Miller out for a duck

Champions League T20 (CLT20) 2014: Kings XI Punjab’s batting gets the extra punch with Thisara Perera’s inclusion

Michael Clarke’s injury woes affect Australia’s long-term plans

Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) vs Hobart Hurricanes CLT20 2014 Match 2: Hobart Hurricanes’ likely XI

Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) vs Hobart Hurricanes CLT20 2014 Match 2: KXIP’s likely XI

Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) vs Hobart Hurricanes CLT20 2014 Match 2: Key battles

Fan of the Day

Suraj Gowda

Suraj Gowda

636 Posts | 8 Fans

Video highlights: Ander Russell 58 for Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) vs Chennai Super Kings (CSK) CLT20 2014

Champions League T20 2014: Kings XI Punjab (KXIP) register 5-wicket win over Hobart Hurricanes (HBH) in CLT20 2014 Group B Match 2

Heart disease in India — 6 shocking facts you should know

Indian Super League: FC Goa’s Indian players are ready for ISL, claims coach Zico

Motorola Moto 360 gets listed on Flipkart

Humsafars producer: The women in my team convinced me to cast Harshad Chopda

Apple modifies iPhones, iPads access without user authorization

Khoobsurat movie review: Sonam Kapoor and Fawad Khan’s fairytale is insanely cute!

Expert tips to reduce stress and keep your heart healthy

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here