Home > Features >

MS Dhoni is right in saying Indian team has improved

Indian team  Getty Images
Indian bowlers bowled with discipline against New Zealand © Getty Images

MS Dhoni’s poor records are indefensible but his opinions regarding the performance of the team aren’t as comical as it is made out to be. Abhijit Banare explains why Dhoni’s claims of an improved team need not be looked down at.

One of the major challenges about discussing popular topics in India is to convincingly present an argument which blows against the wind. Right now, MS Dhoni and the successful captain is a passé, slamming the Indian captain is the hot topic going around. Anything and everything about Dhoni now seems uninteresting, monotonous or mechanical. While the numbers may indicate his failures to lead the team away from home, his statements regarding the team too aren’t going down well with the media. And the one in discussion among cricketing circles now is his claim that the team is improving in comparison to their losses in Australia and England. Before presenting a few thoughts below is the statement from Dhoni after the Test series loss to New Zealand.

“I’m someone who speaks more about the process rather than thinking just about the results. If you compare our performance, the last two series we played, after a long break, outside the subcontinent.


“We have been improving. If you compare those two series (8-0) with the last few we have played, there is plenty of improvement. That’s what it’s all about. You want to keep improving to a stage where you start converting those good situations into better starts and start capitalising on it.”


Comparing the 8-0 and the continuity of failures in South Africa and New Zealand is looking at two different eras of cricket under the same leadership. Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman who formed the core of middle-order batting then were perhaps past their prime. Barring Dravid’s performance in England, there wasn’t much to pick from. In Australia, while Virat Kohli made his mark, it was a fragmented performance put together. In the bowling department, Umesh Yadav was the only one who bowled well. India were just going through the motions for most part of the series.

In comparison, there are many interesting points to look at, from the series against South Africa and New Zealand (Ignoring the fact that a two-Test series is not sufficient to gauge the performance). Indians were expected to meekly surrender in the Tests against a World No 1 side and were expected to struggle even in New Zealand as well. However, Ajinkya Rahane gave enough confidence about his abilities in both matches and under challenging situations. Kohli has become India’s new Tendulkar when it comes to standing up to the challenge of facing best in the business and coming out on top as a true winner. A certain Shikhar Dhawan who was found wanting in the One-Day Internationals (ODIs) showed the ability to defy his instincts and play two fine innings in New Zealand.

These are knocks which show the mettle the players have in them to play well under pressure when touring away from home. Cheteshwar Pujara’s skills have never been in doubt. There were far more positives to pick up from the recently concluded Test series against South Africa and New Zealand then those debacles in Australia and England.

And if you look at the performance of pacers, they have squandered opportunities to close out the match, yet they are worthy of  praise. Now, none expected Ishant Sharma to do well. In New Zealand, for once you felt like praising the pacer, Zaheer Khan still had the stamina to bowl 50 overs without walking off the field catching his hamstring, Mohammed Shami is a delight to watch.  His consistency and his line-length were worth praising. Shami, since his successful debut at home, has done well in the two away series. Together, the pacers were still disciplined for most part of 202 overs they toiled against New Zealand. The fact that Dhoni’s field settings were bizarre didn’t help the bowlers one bit.

Improvement doesn’t imply that it should reflect in results. A confident 30 in an innings still gives more satisfaction to a batsman than a laboured half-century. If we look at New Zealand, the team was hardly taken seriously after a dismal Bangladesh tour. But none noticed the performance of BJ Watling and Corey Anderson who had scored a ton each. Trent Boult and Tim Southee were still taking wickets during the tour to Sri Lanka. Brendon McCullum was still working on his batting technique in the nets which reflected convincingly in the marathon innings. But the results will only be evident if these efforts are delivered as a team. They produced winning moments but failed to capitalise. Which probably Dhoni explains in: “You want to keep improving to a stage where you start converting those good situations into better starts and start capitalising on it.”

There’s not a shred of doubt that Dhoni, as a captain in Tests has looked out of sorts. Even in the ODIs he has been outsmarted by the opposition, but his ability to analyse and understand the team’s situation seems to be right. Yes, it is ironical, but true. There’s much to be optimistic about the future and it wouldn’t be ideal to write off India when they tour England later in July this year.

(Abhijit Banare is a reporter at CricketCountry. He is an avid quizzer and loves to analyse and dig out interesting facts which allows him to learn something new every day. Apart from cricket he also likes to keep a sharp eye on Indian politics, and can be followed on Twitter and blog)

Pakistan vs Australia in UAE, 2014

Oct 30, 2014 (11:30 IST)   at Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 2, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Cuttack

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Nov 3, 2014 (09:00 IST)   at Khulna

South Africa tour of Australia, 2014

Nov 5, 2014 (14:05 IST)   at Adelaide

Sri Lanka tour of India, 2014

Nov 6, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Ahmedabad


West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 15, 2014  at Ahmedabad

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Nov 7, 2014  at Bengaluru

Match cancelled

West Indies tour of India, 2014

Oct 30, 2014  at Hyderabad

Match cancelled

South Africa tour of New Zealand, 2014

Oct 27, 2014  at Hamilton

No result

Zimbabwe tour of Bangladesh, 2014

Oct 25, 2014  at Dhaka

Bangladesh won by 3 wkts


Pakistan vs Australia, 2nd Test


Tendulkar provides teaser on upcoming book

Pakistan vs Australia 2014: Younis Khan’s double ton puts Pakistan on top against Australia at stumps on Day 2 of 2nd Test

Duleep Trophy 2014-15 final: Central Zone 214/4 at stumps; lead by 111 runs

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

KL Rahul could be opening option for India’s tour to Australia

Australia Australia tour of UAE 2014 Australia vs Pakistan Australia vs Pakistan 2014 Central Zone Duleep Trophy Duleep Trophy 2014-15 India Pakistan Pakistan vs Australia Pakistan vs Australia 2014 South Zone South Zone vs Central Zone Sri Lanka Sri Lanka tour of India 2014

WICB officials should visit India to minimize damage: Andy Roberts

Younis Khan: I want to be remembered as team-man

ICC World Cup 2015: New Zealand prime minister urges Indian fans to attend the tournament

Mohammad Yousuf: Muttiah Muralitharan would not have been allowed to bowl under current ICC rules

Mohammad Azharuddin’s son included in UP One-Day squad for Vijay Hazare Trophy

Rohit Sharma looks to strengthen career after an inconsistent year

Younis Khan equals Javed Miandad’s record of most 150+ scores by Pakistan batsman

India vs Sri Lanka 2014: Manish Pandey showing signs of fulfilling potential

Yuvraj Singh — have we seen the last of the man who won India three World Cups?

Younis Khan continues piling up records for Pakistan

Fan of the Day

Niharika Shah

Niharika Shah

678 Posts | 6 Fans

Video Highlights: Younis Khan century during Pakistan vs Australia 1st Test at Dubai

India A vs Sri Lanka: Fringe players look to impress

NGOs pursue education for all

Dance Basanti from Ungli: Put on your dancing shoes and practice the Basanti move!

Weight Loss Tip #59: Eat oranges to lose weight

Sensex surges 150 points in early trade to regain 27,000-mark

PricewaterhouseCoopers partners Google to offer business solutions to clients

Google X Lab working on nanoparticles to help detect diseases early

Priyanka Chopra has the best no make-up selfie on Instagram, think fans!

Lisa Haydon: I slept off midway while watching the original Shaukeen!

International programme in Animal Husbandry

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here