Fresh spin to Dhoni's captaincy

Last Updated: Wed, Feb 27, 2013 09:54 hrs

Was it a case of 'cometh the hour, cometh the man' at Chepauk? Dhoni rose to the occasion quite splendidly and not a moment too soon with a double hundred that paved the victory path that Ashwin had carved. If Dhoni insisted that he cared more for the impact of an innings rather than just runs, then the knock at Chepauk should certainly rank high up there. The innings probably saved his captaincy while ensuring a 1-0 lead for India against the struggling Aussies.

For once, Dhoni got everything right, including the combination, though I thought Ojha would have been a better choice than Harbhajan who never quite looked settled with Ashwin bowling so well at the other end. Eventually, the veteran's presence did not really impact the game that had the Indians out-batting, out-bowling and outplaying the Aussies.

By hindsight, one might say that the Aussies were rather hurried in their selection that saw them picking just one specialist spinner while packing the attack with four fast bowlers. So much so that spinner Lyon bowled a total of just 44 of the 166 overs that the Aussies sent down in two innings as against the 193 of the 226 by the Indian spinners. In fact, Dhoni completely ignored debutant seamer Bhuvaneshwar Kumar in the second innings.

At least one can say about Dhoni that there is no pretence in his actions as the captain. Like in the second innings, he opened with a double-spin attack and eventually, gave only three overs to Ishant Sharna who not long ago was considered India's spearhead! The tall fast bowler was given the ball after 75 overs and with Aussies nine down as Dhoni showed urgency to wrap up an innings win by stumps on the fourth day.

The move was much like Clarke's decision to give Pattinson just six overs on the second day despite the fact that he looked the most dangerous of the Aussie fast bowlers. It is one thing to nurse players through warm-up games and quite another to do so in a full-scale Test match when players are expected to be in peak fitness. It was so typical of Aussies to put science before cricketing sense and surely, Clarke deserves to be hauled over coals for this. Poor captaincy at its worst!

However, the Indian team couldn't care less how Clarke handled his players. If Dhoni opined after the game that he was happy with the team and the combination, then nobody can blame him. The only sour point was another flop show by openers Vijay and Sehwag. I feel that Vijay needs to be persisted with if only because to help him find his feet in Tests while Sehwag will find it hard to justify his place in the eleven.

Perhaps, for the next Test at Hyderabad starting this weekend, it will not hurt Indian team if either Dhawan or Rahane partner Vijay at the top of the order. After all, both Dhawan and Rahane have international experience, having played in the ODIs, and with Sehwag's dismal form continuing, it is about time to bring in a fresh face. However, a lot would depend on Dhoni who is known to be averse to changing a winning combination.

While Dhoni enjoyed a great outing, so it must be said of Kohli and Sachin, both of whom provided a lot of cheer for the home fans. Kohli looked to be in good touch and it was good to see the youngster batting with a lot of confidence. Clearly, he has cemented his spot in the team and looked set for a long innings.

As for Sachin, we all have run out of adjectives, but his batting made for a lovely sight, especially those spectacular drives on the off-side and not to forget, the two sixes in the second innings. Though he will be 40 in April, it is far too early to believe that he played his final Test at Chepauk where he has enjoyed some sublime moments. Given the enthusiasm he has been showing and the current form, you can't put anything past the little big man.

So, on to Hyderabad and it will be no surprise if India go 2-0 up or deny Aussies a win. Going by the Chepauk performance, the Indians are in good heart and undoubtedly look the better side than Clarke's Australians who I suspect will probably drop a fast bowler and bring in Doherty. A change or two in the Aussie batting line-up also will not be a surprise.

Whatever, the game at Hyderabad is likely to dish out cricket as absorbing as in Chennai and for those who believe in primacy of Test, that's the best news.

More from Sify: