Dhoni's image has taken a beating

Last Updated: Sun, Mar 20, 2011 04:49 hrs

Cricket is such a passion in India that every boy and his aunt will have an opinion on it. It is this following that makes for the big bucks that come into the game for advertisers know that any Indian match, even if it's a sidey one will get watched and discussed threadbare and in such a situation any product or brand that they are trying to promote will get noticed by the large majority.

The game itself lends to advertising breaks which other faster quicker and more exciting sports don't have, and that's why cricket gets more ad revenue than other sports. What such a following also does is that it makes for plenty of 'experts' who 'know' what is good for Indian cricket more than those whose job it is to run the game.

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So the five selectors who are chosen by the BCCI or the skipper who is selected by these selectors don't know according to these 'experts' how to do their jobs. After the loss to South Africa, Mahendra Singh Dhoni who had not put a foot wrong so far according to most is now accused of being stubborn and having his own agenda.

From now on, everything he does will have a negative adjective before it. If India does win the World Cup then of course all will be forgiven but the image of Dhoni has taken a bit of a beating.

It all boils down to the non-inclusion of R. Ashwin who according to all these experts is the magician who will win the World Cup with his spin bowling. That is actually a great spin by those who want him in the team and the pressure on Dhoni is such that he will probably relent and include him in the eleven. Ashwin is a fine prospect, of that there is little debate.

What Dhoni, Kirsten and the seniors (and make no mistake, the seniors have a big say) would be thinking is whether India should have two off-spinners, not to forget Yusuf Pathan who can also purvey decent off-spin himself.

The variety they were looking for is in the wrist spin of Chawla who after bowling well in the warm-up matches has got smashed like the other bowlers whenever India has not been able to defend the total they have put up. Chawla has been singled out because the 'experts' want Ashwin. Remember these 'experts' wanted Greg Chappell as India’s coach too.

Be that as it may, Chawla's days are pretty much numbered because not too many have the courage to go against public sentiment and right now his self-confidence is so low that it makes eminent sense to include Ashwin, because he comes across as a pretty self-assured bloke and gives the impression of being able to handle the huge pressure that he will be under.

He will be bowling to a West Indian team with a few left-handers, but he showed in the series against New Zealand that he can bowl to anyone. The ball that is talked about is the carrom ball which he bowls with a flick of his forefinger but if he can replicate the ball with which he got the last wicket against New Zealand in Chennai then not just Chawla but even Harbhajan will have to watch out.

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That was a real fizzer of a delivery that not only looped but bounced and stung off the pitch and the number 11 batsman was hopelessly inadequate to deal with it. It was a delivery that would have made that old fox Erapalli Prasanna proud.

It is quite clear now that four seamers is a luxury India can ill-afford in their squad, so a nice convenient 'injury' to one of them would give the selectors the chance to bring a left-hand spinner as a replacement in the squad. Indian cricket and Bollywood have been linked for long. Now is the time for some real 'acting' to allow this to happen.     

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