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M.S. Dhoni: The man who changed the future of Indian cricket should be permitted to decide his own

The Former Indian Captain was charged by 3 Former cricketers for his continuance in the T20 format

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M.S. Dhoni
Dhoni has been targeted by his ex teammates for underperforming in the 2nd T20 against New Zealand.

Veturi Srivatsa

Seldom does one come across a captain making it a habit of praising his predecessor. And all the former players who played with either or both differ on Mahendra Singh Dhoni playing in the shortest format, Twenty20, advancing different reasons.

It all started with former cricketers Venkata Sai Laxman, Ajit Agarkar and Akash Chopra opposing the continuance of Mahendra Singh Dhoni in the Twenty20 format after his glaring “failure to pushing things” in the second of the three-match T20 series aginst New Zealand at Rajkot, resulting in India losing by 40 runs.

All the three have put forth different reasons, but their solution is the same, that it’s time Dhoni made way for a youngster to gain international experience. One of them thought that he has no place in the team as a batsman, now that he is not the captain and another felt by pulling out of the shortest format he could prolong his One-Day career.

Ranged against them are Sunil Gavaskar, Ravi Shastri and skipper Virat Kohli himself who all vehementaly differed with the critics, advancing equally valid arguments.

The one man who smartly took the middle path is Virender Sehwag who, while backing his former captain’s selection, wants him to “realise his role” in the team.

The stoutest and the most logical defence of Dhoni, pulling no punches, came from Gavaskar, who was furious at people blaming Dhoni for the Rajkot defeat when the entire team was responsible.

Little Master's stroke to save M.S. Dhoni
Former Indian batsman, Sunil Gavaskar, came in rescue of Dhoni by accusing people for targeting players who are above 30.

One of Gavaskar’s pet theories is people invariably go at a player touching 30 years and are charitable to youngsters who may not have anything to show by way of performance for long stretches. Expectedly, he picked on Hardik Pandya failing to pick leg-spinner Ish Sodhi in successive matches or, for that matter, the openers doing little in Rajkot.

The critics also seem to forget that not long ago Dhoni won a match in the company of No.10 Bhuvaneshwar Kumar, adding 100 runs in Sri Lanka and also the way he rescued India against Australia with Pandya in the first ODI a couple of months ago.

More than Dhoni, the team management must decide where he should bat. Imagine any other player in the team getting pushed like Dhoni had been anywhere between No 4 and No 7 positions. They fancifully call him, as also Pandya, a “floater”. Still, they say they are looking for a “finisher”.

Should Dhoni quit T20 as suggested by some of his former team-mates? It all depends on his place in the ODIs. If he is good enough to play ODIs he must play T-20s also so that he stays match-fit, now that there are most T20s these days. Playing only the Tests is different from playing only one of the shorter formats. It might work for youngsters, but certainly not for those in Dhoni’s age and stage of career.

Kohli and Shastri gave it back to the critics equally forcefully. Kohli echoed Gavaskar’s opinion when he said that Dhoni is being unfairly targeted. He is correct he is not questioned even if he fails in three matches in a row because he is not 35 whereas afer only one failure they say Dhoni’s time is up!

Kohli said in clear words that he and Dhoni know what’s happening out in the middle and they understand what’s best for each and every player.

Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli also came in support of the former Indian captain.

Ravis Shastri is also equally forthright, describing Dhoni the ultimate team man. He dubbed people who want him out as jealous, waiting for him to fail and end his international career.

Bhuvaneshwar added his bit: No one is bothered (about criticism), he is a legend and his what he is doing benefits the team.

Shastri had the last word: Great players like Dhoni decide their own future. (IANS)

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Will the exciting lineup of new IPL Players get to play in the 2019 Cricket World Cup?

The bench strength looks impressive, but it has to be tested sooner than later.

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cricket
When will the exciting IPL stars get a chance if others are allowed to consolidate their positions playing at home? Pixabay

-by Veturi Srivatsa

New Delhi, October 23, 2017 :
 So much of cricket is being played around the world — Tests, One-Day Internationals and Twenty20s. The so-called pecking order is going for a toss with each passing series.

India, who got to the No. 1 position in the One-Day Internationals after beating Australia, vacated it for South Africa who went up beating Bangladesh.

Bangladesh are still playing in South Africa, Sri Lanka in the Gulf, home of Pakistan, and New Zealand are in India for a series each in the two shorter formats. Australia are getting ready for the Ashes and the South Africans will be looking forward to settling a score with India.

Every international side is seriously looking to the 2019 World Cup, building their core component, or is it rebuilding with less than two years for the mega event. Some top cricketers around the world are happy playing in the shorter formats to prolong their careers and with an eye on the pay packages.

There was a time good Test cricketers used to move into the One-Day format on the strength of their technique and fitness. Players now look to get into the Test squad on the weight of their performance in the ODIs. Both the players and the selectors are striking a blance between the long duration domestic cricket and the Twenty20 Indian Premier League (IPL).

India are going through a peculiar renaissance of sorts. Players who are thought to be indispensable not long ago are being rested, rotated and dropped whichever way one wants to take the selectors’ and team management’s perspective.

Not one or two players, practically the entire Test attack is banished to domestic cricket. Ravichandran Ashwin, Ajay Jadeja, Mohammed Shami and Umesh Yadav are playing in the ongoing Ranji Trophy just to keep them in the loop. Jadeja is, with a vengeance, scoring hundreds and taking wickets.

The captain and chief coach Ravi Shastri seem to be calling the shots. Virat Kohli, like his predecessor Mahendra Singh Dhoni, is slowly seeing the back of senior cricketers who he feels are slow coaches in the field, Jadeja being the exception. Both Jadeja and Ashwin had to go out for their inability to take wickets in the middle-overs on a regular basis.

Chinaman Kuldeep Yadav and legspinner Yuzvendra Chahal are providing the variety in the attack and importantly they are taking wickets bowling at any stage of the match. Axar Patel is doing the backup job. If Ashwin and Jadeja are in consideration for 2019, then they should also get to bowl a lot of overs before their fate is decided once and for all.

If there are four players good enough to open the innings, none of them is being considered for a middle-order position. Actually, Lokesh Rahul is the man the team management wants to keep him in the squad. He also prefers to open the innings and he just couldn’t adjust at No.4 behind Kohli. Hardik Pandya was tried at four and looked good in one match and then he became a floater, pushing Dhoni up and down.

Ajinkya Rahane continues to be a stop-gap opener, getting an opportunity whenever Rohit Sharma or Shikhar Dhawan are out through injuries. Strangely, he is not seen as a middle-order bat after an impression was created that he cannot rotate the strike, though it was during his early years in international cricket.

The other middle-order slots are now with Kedar Jadhav and Manish Pandey, both have good performances and the powers that be think the two should to be nursed, particularly Jadhav who is not only a handy bowler but also a decent wicket-keeper in an emergency. Rahul is another who keen keep wickets. Amazingly, the squad to play New Zealand has a regular wicket-keeper, Dinesh Karthik as a batsman. He is also seen as a contender for the No.4 position.

Kohli continues to be the man to hold both the top order and in the middle, more so while chasing. His record is amazing going into his 200th match on Sunday against New Zealand in Mumbai. He has 12 hundreds more than Sachin Tendulkar and Sourav Ganguly who had 18 each at the very stage of their careers.

Kohli’s faith in Dhoni as his onfield consultant gives a totally different connotation to captaincy. None of the Fab Four or Five ever looked demonstrably carrying the side as Dhoni looks today. The arrangement is working out perfectly fine. The two are pulling the the youngsters in the side with them to give them confidence.

When will the exciting IPL stars get a chance if others are allowed to consolidate their positions playing at home? When will Rishab Pant, Sanju Samson, Shreyas Iyer, Nitish Rana or someone like all-rounder Washington Sundar and fast bowler Mohammad Siraj get a look in?

The bench strength looks impressive, but it has to be tested sooner than later.

(Editorial note : This article has been written by Veturi Srivatsa, a senior journalist and was first published at IANS. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at sveturi@gmail.com)

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2016 in Retrospect: With stupendous performances, 2016 has been a year of fireworks for Indian Cricket

India not only whitewashed the Kiwis 3-0 but also grabbed their spot back on top of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings

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Indian Cricket Team. Facebook

New Delhi, December 25, 2016: It has been a year of fireworks for Indian cricket. The players have unfurled stupendous performances to close the year as the top ranked Test team, while off the field, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) top brass have been at the receiving end of the Supreme Court’s ire for defying the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee’s recommendations.

The year started with India reclaiming the lost glory in the T20 format in which they were the inaugural champions in 2007, and eventually ended with the team completing a 4-0 humiliation of England to consolidate the numero uno spot in the longest format.

While Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s team lost out to eventual champions West Indies in the World Twenty20 semi-finals, Virat Kohli ensured that 2016 ended with India extending their winning streak to 18 Tests — the longest since March 1987.

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Here is a look at India’s overall performance throughout the year:

With the focus on T20s, India started the year with the limited overs tour Down Under where the Men-In-Blue flunked miserably in the five-match One-Day International (ODI) series to go down 1-4. However, India bounced back well in the shortest format, completing a 3-0 whitewash of the Kangaroos in their own den.

Back home, India had to pass the Sri Lankan test before proceeding to Bangladesh for the Asia Cup T20. The hosts were off to a shocking loss to the young Sri Lankan side in the first match, but Dhoni’s army soon rediscovered their mojo to win the next two matches and win the series.

After the 2-1 drubbing of Sri Lanka, India headed to Bangladesh for the Asia Cup, which was clipped to a T20 tournament for the first time ever. The Indians defeated the hosts in their first outing before convincingly outclassing their arch-rivals Pakistan, and went on to beat Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

In the rain-marred final, India were up against the home side, but Dhoni’s men had no trouble in lifting the title. The Asia Cup title put India in good stead to reclaim the World T20 crown, which has been evading them since the inaugural edition in 2007.

Hosted for the first time in India, the home side went into the tournament as the hot favourites but Dhoni’s men were off to a nightmarish start, losing to New Zealand in their opening match.

The hosts, however, recovered from the early jolt as they beat Pakistan in their next outing before winning a nail-biting tie against Bangladesh and then needed a Virat Kohli-special to tame Australia in a must-win tie.

Despite getting their campaign back on track with three hard-fought wins, India went down to eventual champions, the West Indies, in the semi-final played at the Wankhede Stadium — to be deprived of the title once again.

A week after the World T20, the Indian Premier League (IPL) started and it mostly centred on a marauding Virat Kohli, who took T20 batting to a completely new level, slamming four centuries to end as the highest run-getter with 973 runs.

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Despite his glorious run with the willow, Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) once again failed to lift the title, as they lost to Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the final.

The IPL followed the brief tour to Zimbabwe, where a second string Indian side was enough to dish out a 3-0 whitewash to the hosts. But the African minnows salvaged some pride in the first T20 before India managed to find their feet and clinch the remaining two games to pocket the series 2-1.

India then headed off to the West Indies to kick off their long Test season ahead. Kohli led the team from the front in the first Test with his maiden double ton to comprehensively beat the hosts by an innings and 92 runs before drawing the remaining two matches as India got back to the No.1 ranking again, albeit for a short while.

After the Tests, both the sides headed to Florida in the United States, where they faced off in two T20 Internationals.

India suffered a nail-biting one-run defeat in the first T20I before incessant rain disrupted the next match midway after the West Indies’ innings.

Back in their own den, Kohli’s boys after losing their No.1 rank to Pakistan had nothing but one thing on mind — to reclaim their number one spot in the three-Test rubber against New Zealand.

India not only whitewashed the Kiwis 3-0 but also grabbed their spot back on top of the International Cricket Council (ICC) Test rankings.

Thereafter, the Blackcaps gave a good fight in the five-match ODI series, where fortunes fluctuated after each game to make it 2-2, the final game in Visakhapatnam becoming the decider. Leg-spinner Amit Mishra’s heroics (5/18) helped India romp home comfortably to take the series 3-2.

After barely a week’s rest, Kohli’s brigade was up for the English challenge, involving five Tests against a side to whom they had lost their last three series drastically.

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After drawing the first Test at Rajkot, Kohli and Co. took the challenge hands down as India handed Alastair Cook’s men a 4-0 drubbing to end the year at the zenith of the Test rankings with 120 points.

In the limited-overs formats, India finished the year at No.3 in ODIs and at No.2 in T20Is.

Off the field, it was the tussle between the Supreme Court-appointed Lodha Committee and the BCCI that created the headlines.

Despite repeated warnings from the apex court, including possible charges of perjury against the incumbent BCCI President Anurag Thakur and Secretary Ajay Shirke, to adhere to the Lodha panel’s recommendations for cleansing the mess within the cricket board, an adament BCCI is still to toe the Supreme Court’s line. (IANS)

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Challenging the Stereotype: Popular Indian cricketers Dhoni, Kohli, Rahane to support ‘Nayi Soch’ Campaign

In the campaign, Dhoni's jersey has his mother Devki's name printed on the back

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Representational Image, Youtube

Mumbai, Oct 16, 2016: Popular Indian cricketers Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Ajinkya Rahane have come forward to support the Star Plus “Nayi Soch” campaign, which questions various societal stereotypes that hold women back.

The TV broadcaster on Sunday unveiled the campaign during the India-New Zealand ODI series. In the campaign, Dhoni’s jersey has his mother Devki’s name printed on the back.

In the campaign, Dhoni’s jersey has his mother Devki’s name printed on the back. Kohli and Rahane can be seen wearing the jerseys of the names of their mothers’ — Saroj and Sujata.

Kohli and Rahane can be seen wearing the jerseys of the names of their mothers’ — Saroj and Sujata.

“We at Star India are very happy to partner with BCCI for an iconic brand initiative of ‘Nayi Soch’. Star Plus has been a lighthouse brand for women,” Sanjay Gupta, Managing Director, Star India, said in a statement.

In the campaign, Dhoni's jersey has his mother Devki's name. Click To Tweet

“We have always put women first, told their stories, and are now set to take it to the next level — by challenging orthodoxy and stereotypes that come in the way of progress for women,” he added.

The campaign is built around real-life examples from the lives of these three cricketers, and the philosophy on how they are what they are, in large part because of their mothers. (IANS)