Home > News >

ICC World T20 2014: MS Dhoni proves ‘pundits’ wrong after semi-final win over South Africa

MS Dhoni has brilliantly led India to the final of ICC World T20 © AFP
MS Dhoni has brilliantly led India to the final of ICC World T20 © AFP

By Veturi Srivatsa

How easy it is to explain away your prophecies in politics and cricket! If proved right you can have a triumphant didn’t-I-say-so look and when proved wrong you can still justify your stand attributing the unexpected turn of events to luck and providence.

At the half-way stage in Friday’s second semi-final of the World Twenty20, experts on FM radio stations had charge-sheeted India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni for his omissions and commissions in the field. Some had written the match off for India and some played safe saying his bizarre moves gave South Africa 50-50 chance! Eventually, India cantered to a six-wicket victory with almost one over to spare.

One worthy accused Dhoni of playing favourites by including his Chennai Super Kings (CSK) medium-pacer teammate Mohit Sharma in place of “incomparable” Mohammed Shami. Another pundit was sore with the captain for not bringing Shikhar Dhawan back and for ignoring the X-factor in the southpaw.

They also wondered why Dhoni hadn’t bowled Ravichandran Ashwin with the new ball like he had done in the earlier games. Generally, they had a lot to say on his unimaginative captaincy – not using Ravindra Jadeja after bowling two steady overs. Then they had a caveat: if Dhoni wins the match the mistakes will not be talked about.

Their tone and tenor was a dead giveaway, they just can’t stand the captain any longer and he must be attacked. Not that Dhoni is incapable of making mistakes or doesn’t give you ample scope to haul him over the coals, but he must at least be given an opportunity to reason out his decisions.

Why change a tactic of bowling Ashwin with the new ball? Luckily, Dhoni was asked about it after the game and his explanation sounded logical, that he wanted the off-spinner to bowl in the middle-overs to check the explosive AB de Villiers and didn’t want to use fast bowlers who can be hit through the line using the pace. It worked and De Villiers couldn’t impart enough power in his pull shot to clear Rohit Sharma at long leg. His wicket at that juncture certainly kept the target to attainable limits. Of course, if the move hadn’t worked out as calculated, Dhoni could have been panned.

What should be realised is that Dhoni overly depends on his deputy Virat Kohli and Ashwin.

Tactics are invariably intuitional and don’t necessarily always click. Not long ago he was baked for not being proactive and allowing things to drift in South Africa and New Zealand. His critics will still have their way saying that he is good only in the shorter formats of the game because he is a finisher.

Come to think of it, Dhoni had come out to bat for the first time in five matches in the tournament and faced just one delivery, only because Kohli didn’t finish the game off the previous one. That not only shows the quality of the batting strength, but also the comfort with which India won all their matches.

When confronted with some resistance for the first time, Dhoni’s two trustworthy lieutenants produced match-winning performances. Ashwin provided the first turning point in the match by dismissing Hashim Amla with a gem of a delivery, the carom ball befuddling the batsman as it pitched outside the leg stump and turned sharply to take the off stump, reminding one of Shane Warne’s beauty that castled Mike Gatting. Even Ashwin admitted that he might not be able to bowl a similar dream delivery again. Australian great Adam Gilchrist was so amazed that he called it the T20 delivery of the century! Ashwin then proved his captain right by removing skipper Flaf du Plessis and De Villiers. When every other mainline bowler was treated shabbily, Ashwin returned with figures of four for 22 in his four overs.

Ashwin deserved to at least a share the Man-of-the-Match award with Kohli, who completed the task with his now familiar masterly batting display.

If Ashwin is Dhoni’s turn-to bowler in desperate situations, the team looks up to Kohli while batting. Ashwin may have had off-days but seldom has Kohli let the side down. Like his captain, Kohli does not betray his emotions much these days. He raises the comfort levels of his teammates both out in the middle and in the dressing room.

Out at the wicket, neither the coach nor the captain can think for the batsmen and here Kohli is showing great maturity. Like his telling Suresh Raina that they should look to finish the game by the 19th over and not leave it to Dale Steyn’s last over. They knew if anyone could stop them, it would be Steyn and they stymied Du Plessis plan of keeping the fast bowler’s last two overs till the end. How well the two planned and executed it.

A lot of thinking has gone into the whole exercise. In cricket, partnerships matter a lot and every batsman right from Rohit Sharma to Raina showed a calm intent and made worthwhile contributions, building meaningful partnerships.

The Indians will now run into Sri Lanka and both have history to chase. The Sri Lankans have made it a habit of losing the big matches and the Indians meticulously winning them all. If they pull the final off, they will have completed the cricket slam of winning the World Cup, Champions Trophy and the T20. The match will have all the trappings to watch.

(Veturi Srivatsa is Sports Editor at IANS. The views expressed are personal. He can be contacted at v.srivatsa@ians.in)

ICC World T20 2014 schedule: Match time table with venue details

India tour of England 2014

Jul 27, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Southampton

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 6, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Galle

India tour of England 2014

Aug 7, 2014 (15:30 IST)   at Manchester

South Africa in Zimbabwe, 2014

Aug 9, 2014 (13:30 IST)   at Harare

Pakistan tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Aug 14, 2014 (10:00 IST)   at Colombo

More

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 24, 2014  at Bulawayo

Afghanistan won by 100 runs

South Africa tour of Sri Lanka, 2014

Jul 24, 2014  at Colombo

Match drawn

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 22, 2014  at Bulawayo

Afghanistan won by 2 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 20, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 8 wkts

Afghanistan tour of Zimbabwe, 2014

Jul 18, 2014  at Bulawayo

Zimbabwe won by 6 wkts

Photos

India vs England 2014, 3rd Test

Videos

Shaun Udal on India vs England 3rd Test

Moeen Ali’s ‘Save Gaza’ wristband suspension: Cricket and political sentiments don’t mix

Indian cricketers in County Championship: Career Statistics

Denesh Ramdin: Didn’t expect Sunil Narine to bowl Super Over maiden

India vs England 2014, 3rd Test at Southampton: Murali Vijay, Cheteshwar Pujara — India’s most dependable partnership in recent times

India vs England Live Cricket Score 3rd Test Day 3 at Southampton: MS Dhoni completes 31st half-century; India reach 323/8 at stumps

Alastair Cook England England vs India England vs India 2014 India India tour of England 2014 India vs England India vs England 2014 South Africa South Africa tour of Sri Lanka 2014 South Africa vs Sri Lanka South Africa vs Sri Lanka 2014 Sri Lanka Sri Lanka vs South Africa Sri Lanka vs South Africa 2014

Nottinghamshire, Somerset involved in dramatic tie in Royal London One-Day Cup

India tour of England 2014: Moeen Ali is developing as a spinner with every game, says Stuart Broad

India vs England, 3rd Test at Southampton: Draw the most likely result, feels Sunil Gavaskar

Stuart Broad: To go into the company of Wasim, Waqar and Walsh, Ambrose is a huge honour

India vs England, 3rd Test at Southampton: No fracture for Ian Bell after being hit on thumb

Moeen Ali – the part-timer keeps pegging India back with crucial wickets

India vs England 2014, 3rd Test at Southampton: India’s sloppy batting and other highlights of play on Day 3

India’s poor shot selection gives England advantage on Day 3 of 3rd Test at Southampton

‘Yuvraj, Ganguly, Zaheer and Indian team to come together in support of my charitable cause’

Moeen Ali’s ‘Save Gaza’ wristband suspension: Cricket and political sentiments don’t mix

Fan of the Day

Fan Cricket

Fan Cricket

11 Posts | 2 Fans

Brazil vs Netherlands, 3rd place Fifa World Cup 2014 match Video Highlights

Prevent Diabetes Tip – get regular health check-ups

Highlights of Phil Hughes’ double ton against South Africa A

FDI in telecom jumps manifold to $1.5 billion in April-May

Apple MacBook Pro with Retina Display given a speed boost, prices slashed across the range

Revealed: Salman Khan’s guest list for Eid party includes Karan Johar, Sidharth Malhotra, Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan!

Rafael to miss rest of Man Utd’s tour of the USA with groin injury

What does Sharmila Tagore like about would be son-in-law Kunal Khemu?

India vs England, 3rd Test at Southampton: Stuart Broad lauds performance of England bowlers on Day 3

Also on cricketcountry.com

Play Fantasy Cricket & Win

Cash Daily! Click here