India have a potent new ball pair in Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah along with Hardik Pandya © AFP
India have a potent new ball pair in Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah along with Hardik Pandya © AFP

Earlier, cricket was all about having a five-bowler strategy in place: traditionally, three pacers and two spinners if there’s a tinge of grass on the wicket or two pacers and three spinners if there’s some turn on offer. But cricket has drastically changed since the introduction of the fastest format of the game. As the tables turn in a matter of 2-3 overs, the modern-day captains prefer having a plan B and C ready: what if the team’s pace spearhead bleeds runs or what if the captain’s go-to bowler fails to provide a breakthrough? The men in blue have an upper hand in the T20 format when it comes to having the extra bowling options. MS Dhoni doesn’t like to chop and change the team, which was evident in the recently concluded Twenty20 International (T20I) series Down Under. And the reason is justifiable: his preferred 11 includes eight bowling options. FULL Cricket Scorecard: India vs Bangladesh, Asia Cup T20 2016 Final at Mirpur

As the Mirpur pitch has gradually lost the grass, the Asia Cup T20 2016 final is expected to be a high-scoring thriller. And the final will be an ideal preparation for the ICC World T20 2016 in India. With the scorching heat drying up the Indian wickets, the bowlers will find it difficult to contain the meaty blows. If India’s potent new ball pair of Ashish Nehra and Jasprit Bumrah leak runs in the batting powerplay, Dhoni has the option of giving an over or two to Hardik Pandya. He can consistently bowl in the corridor of uncertainty and put a lid on the runs.

Watching a spinner bowl with the new ball isn’t a rare sight anymore. As a matter of fact, this innovation was first seen in ICC Cricket World Cup 1992 which was introduced by the cricketing world’s most powerful thinker, Martin Crowe. For the past few years, Dhoni has been following the same. And who better than Ravichandran Ashwin can justify the tactic! Ashwin, who is considered as the cynosure of Indian bowling unit, has variety in his armory: off-spin, slider and carom ball. Moreover, his height adds more venom to his bowling. With the hard and shiny new ball, he can produce more bounce, thereby restricting the batsman’s footwork. READ: Asia Cup T20 2016: Has change in pace attack turned around India’s fortune?

The highest wicket-taker of ICC Champions Trophy 2013, Ravindra Jadeja, is another significant aspect to India’s bowling. With his round-arm action, the southpaw can reasonably turn the ball, as well as trap the batsman with his arm-ball. However, if he has a bad at the office, Yuvraj Singh can roll his arm over too. Termed as “pie chucker” by England’s Kevin Pietersen, Yuvraj has the knack of picking crucial wickets.

Unquestionably, the pitch curators will make rank turners when India faces the likes of Australia and New Zealand in the group stage of ICC World T20 2016. Therefore, Dhoni will make full use of another part-time spinner in the ranks, Suresh Raina. With his wily bowling skills, he can force the batsman to go big, resulting in a catch at the boundary line. And we all know how much Dhoni likes to gamble! All the same, the last option in the bowling list is Virat Kohli. He may not be a potent threat but can be handy at times. If the wicket has enough moisture, he can trap the batsman on the pads with his awkward in-swingers.

Be it cricket pundits or fans, everyone finds it difficult to decode Dhoni’s strategy, as he puts the opposition on the back foot with his unorthodox style of captaincy. No one can predict how Captain Cool will rotate his bowling options. But one thing is certain; Team India has an edge over other teams when it comes to an array of bowling options.