The Revival Man of Indian cricket

Last Updated: Fri, Sep 16, 2011 05:16 hrs

Every since Mahendra Singh Dhoni made his debut in 2004, he has seen many momentous ups and downs in Indian cricket. No wonder he kept his cool when India was thrashed 0-4 in England Test series.

He may have seen (what he perceives) much worse events than that.

But interestingly, he has been at the helm of affairs amongst some of our best revivals. While some people still argue that it's all luck and India would still have done the same with any other captain, there is no denying the man's acumen and charisma.

There also have been some personal revivals for the golden boy of Indian cricket.

A look at some of them...

Revival No. 1. Indian Cricket in 2007.

2007 was a happening year for India. There was gloom at the beginning and joy towards the end.

The scene was still clouded with the Greg Chappell's spat with senior players. Any establishment which is riddled with conflict cannot do well and that is exactly what happened in the crucial ODI World Cup.

Dhoni gets Spirit of Cricket Award, Tendulkar misses out


India crashed to 191 all down against Bangladesh and then to 185 in a must-win match against Sri Lanka. It was one of our worst performances ever and we exited the tournament early.

Then the BCCI decided to try something new. It rested the seniors for the T20 WC and infused fresh blood into the system. Dhoni was made captain.

 

The move was spectacular. Not only did India win, but it got some great talent for the future. This led to the increased success of the T20 format and the subsequent IPL.

Revival No.2. Dhoni's personal game.

One reason for the debacle of the 2007 ODI WC was Dhoni's batting. This man came into the scene with his hard-hitting shots at the death and he finished off many games for India. India had become quite dependent on him.

However, opposition teams had figured out Dhoni's game and he started going into a steep decline.

How much did Dhoni score in the two crucial matches against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka as mentioned above?

0 & 0!

What's more, he didn't even last an over in both these matches! Dhoni had let India down very badly.

However Dhoni worked on his game the hard way. He decided to keep his wicket intact for his first few overs at the crease before hitting out. He put a price on his wicket and stayed at the crease no matter how ugly his game looked.

The results were immensely successful. Dhoni is arguably the world's best ODI batsman of the last four years.

He has spent record time in the ICC rankings as the No. 1 ODI batsman.

He is the only person to have made it to the ICC ODI Team of the Year for four years in a row.

And most importantly he has fired on the most important occasions, like the 2011 ODI WC final, where he took India to the title with a brilliant 91 not out and a tournament-ending six.

He was also a handy Test bat an averaged 50 plus as a captain for quite some time.

Finally his wicketkeeping, which had started falling in 2006-07, also got raised a notch when he became captain.

Revival No. 3. Tests and ODI consistency.

 

India has been pretty consistent post-2000. However an interesting statistic is that we never went past No. 3 in the ICC Rankings in both Tests and ODIs in the pre-Dhoni era. While we were a great team, we lacked consistency.

 

The reason why Dhoni is known as the man with the Midas touch is that the moment he became captain, he took us to No. 2 and finally to the top spot in both formats.

 

At that time the world champions were Australia.

In the T20 format, we beat them the 2007 WC semis. In ODIs, we won in a triangular the first time on Australian soil and also beat them the 2011 ODI WC quarters.

Dhoni has shown that he is a master at recovery

In Tests we beat them 2-0 on two successive occasions.

And of course, there is the 2011 ODI WC victory, which came to us after a long 28 years.

Required: Revival No. 4. Test form and personal Test batting.

And now Dhoni is at the nadir once again. You could say that it’s a full circle for Dhoni.

The question is: Can Dhoni take us to the top again?

He probably has two things to sort out. The first is his personal Test batting, which has declined much like his ODI batting in 2007. It is time for Dhoni to re-invent his game once again.

He showed glimpses of that in the Third England Test at Edgbaston. He scored 77 off 96 balls in the first innings and a blistering unbeaten 74 off 79 balls in the second. Maybe that is the way forward for Dhoni.

The second is much much tougher.

The following things have to be sorted out in Indian Test cricket:

Batting. Fast bowling. Spin bowling. Fielding. Injuries. Fatigue. Replacements...

It looks like a pretty tall order.

But if anyone can do it, then it has got to be the Revival Man of Indian cricket.



The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger.

He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/