Curious case of Mahendra Singh Dhoni

I was waiting for the fourth test match to begin to write this post. I have been waiting to write this post for a long time anyway. It needed the right motivation and setting to really express my concern, consulting advice, caution or a plain rant about the state in which Indian Cricket is right now.

MSD

(c) India Today

To be honest, I’m not a trade analyst or a cricket pundit. I’m little bit of a business analyst but I don’t consider Cricket as business, though it has become one now. I’m a pure cricket loving, patriotic Indian cricket fan. And I look at the game from the eyes of a desperate fan who wants to see his team win, or at least show some fighting spirit. This ‘spirit’ in the Indian cricket has been missing for the good part of 20 months after we won the world cup. To a large extent, this has to be attributed to one man called as Mahendra Singh Dhoni.

I’m an admirer of MSD’s cricketing style. He is a great player and massive hitter of the ball. I’m thankful to whoever the selector was who insisted on MSDs name and coerced Ganguly/John Wright to choose Dhoni ahead of any other wicket keeper in India (notably Dada’s favorite Parthiv Patel and Kumble/Dravid recommended Dinesh Kartik). He had taken the ODI arena by storm with some cracking centuries and then lifting the inaugural T20 world cup. Brilliant he was then, but mediocre he has become now.

There have been volumes of arguments on the ‘Talent v/s Attitude’ debate. Dhoni, to me, is a bit of both. But just like his nemesis Sehwag, he doesn’t have enough steam to either summon the talent when needed or show the attitude and grit when the chips are down. The grit shown by a captain to root his feet down and make sure everyone follows his visionary accord has been missing in Dhonis leadership. He is too cool, giving a feeling of carelessness towards the obvious problems in the team. His choice of players, tactics on the field and placements have been ranging from curious to baffling, which is why people have been questioning his decision making. Team selection for the 2011 world cup is an example.

Demeanor of a leader has to be staunch and authoritarian. Sadly, Dhoni exudes a passive vibe that mostly leaves the batsmen or bowlers to take their own decisions and push the game in all directions. This is what happened with a talented bowler like Ashwin in the just concluded Mumbai and Kolkata test. Dhoni should have walked up to him and told, “Listen friend, experimenting is good. But make sure you don’t give them a practice of playing all kinds of deliveries. Hold a line and attack. We need wickets.” I’m sure Dhoni didn’t say that and we know what happened. Lets take an example of a captain of a small batch of soldiers and a team of surgeons lead by an able senior hand. The captain soldier is more likely to give loud, aggressive motivational speeches to his soldiers. He is likely to shout “Company… March!” every now and then. This loudness is required to instill the confidence and passion in the soldiers. A surgeon on the other hand is unlikely to shout to slogan. For his kind of work, composure and patience is the key. Indian team under Dhoni is a legion of soldiers led by a surgeon.

Sachin Tendulkar is another example of a brilliant player with an abysmal leadership track record. Everyone knows Sachin is a classic example of perfect combination of talent and attitude. Sadly he was never able to infuse the same attitude, if not talent, in any of the youngsters he played with. His stint as a captain was limited. So it is difficult to say if he really groomed any youngsters. But Dhoni has been at the helm for a long period of 5 years. Baring Virat Kohli, Dhoni hasn’t been able to fixate anyone else in the team. Even Virat is fast becoming an ODI specialist. This is one reason I admired Ganguly. He went to an extent of dipping form in his own game to groom youngsters and build a team that laid foundation to the young Indian squad. Sehwag, Yuvraj, Harbhajan, Zaheer who went on to become important players in the team when he was at the helm. It lead to the transition of the team from the Azaruddin era to the Dravid-Laxman era dominated equally by batsmen and bowlers. Dhoni on the other hand had a legion of talented youngsters such as Kohli, Raina, Munaf Patel, Pujara, Ashwin, Ojha, Umesh Yadav, Varun Aaron, Rohit Sharma, Rahane… but none has been able to really sparkle on the international test arena, let alone cement the place in the team.

Change is needed now. Even Ganguly, honestly or disgustingly, was asked stepped down (read sacked) when things were not going good. Dhoni got a readymade team of senior players who were all in form. Now that three of them have retired (Dravid, Kumble, Laxman) and two have been asked to leave (Zaheer, Harbhajan), it is important that we get a man who can rebuild the new team. But who? Virat Kohli? He is sporadic and new on the test scene. May be Gambhir or even Ravi Ashwin.  Lets see if the sun sets on MSD. I have been long waiting for a new sunrise.

Behind India’s Debacle at the World T20

Before I begin, let me tell you that I was not expecting the team India to win the T20 world cup. But I didn’t expect them to go down so badly either. I thought they would reach the semi finals at least. Any way…

The analysis is simple. One, the team composition was not right and two, the players were worn out, tired and far too arrogant to win the cup. We had players in the team whose form in IPL was average to pathetic. Barring Suresh Raina and Rohit Sharma among the batsmen, no other player had displayed any glimpse of remarkable form. May it be Yuvraj Singh, Gautam Gambhir, Yusuf Pathan, Dinesh Karthik or Dhoni himself. But they all made it to the team instead of the ones who hammered the bowlers in the IPL. The loss shows how unlucky Robin Utthappa, Sourabh Tiwari and Naman Ojha must have felt… all of them who were brilliant with the bat.

And the bowlers? well they do not deserve to be discussed at all. Zaheer Khan is an aggressive guy. Continue reading

IPL is poised for an exciting finish

While I’m writing this post, the Deccan Chargers and the Rajasthan Royals must be preparing for a hard battle in the searing heat of Nagpur. Yes, today’s IPL match is in Nagpur. And I’m sure the city is all geared up for a hot hot battle between the teams desperate to push for a semi final birth.  🙂

I think this year’s IPL has been a very closely fought contest. Baring Mumbai Indians, all other teams have shown both glimpses of brilliance and farce. Mumbai, after two mediocre seasons looks all set to finally show the world what their old war horses are capable of. The quartet of Sachi-Sanath-Zaheer-Harbhajan along with the young guns Sourabh Tiwari, Lasith Malinga and Dwayne Bravo have peaked at the right time for Mumbai Indians. Their closest competitors this season, the Delhi Dare Devils and the Royal Challengers have also done well. Though even they wilted under pressure of the big games. The performance of the heavy weights of the first two seasons, Chennai Super Kings has been surprisingly drab. Yes they showed the brilliance in the matches they won. But unfortunately, they have won just 3 out of 9 and are now struggling in the bottom 3.

Winners of the last IPL, the deccan chargers have also been on and off. They have made a habit of winning alternate matches I guess. Same is true for Dada and Shahrukh’s team the Kolkata Night Riders. The Kings XI Punjab have been the laggards this season, like KKR in the last one. However nothing can be said. If they end up winning all the remaining matches and if others do badly, who knows? Punjab might be in the semis. All said and done, I think Mumbai, the Royal Challengers Bangalore and the Delhi Dare Devils will surely make it to the semis. And you will see a BIG cat fight for the final birth. Boy, the contests are getting interesting.

Now lets come back to the original question. Who do you think will win the IPL 3? My money is still on Mumbai. Lets vote.

The Agony and Ecstasy of being No. 1

Whoever followed Indian cricket for even 5 minutes in his entire last 3 months would know what I’m talking about. We were crowned the numero uno of test cricket after we beat Sri Lanka a couple of months back. We finished as a top ranked team last year (2009). But were criticised by many for not being the true deserving candidates of the pinnacle of success in test cricket, primarily because of our own inconsistency and some what also due to the attitude of our own cricket board. Lot of die hard cricket fans believed in what the so called pundits said. Beating Bangladesh helped, but it hardly mattered to the critics.

BCCI, in a face saving move, betted for tests and squeezed a short two test series with the visiting South Africans. This was supposed to be the real test. India went to the first match with long list of injuries. Laxman was out, Dravid was out, Yuvraj was out too. A freak injury to Rohit Sharma minutes before the start of the play didn’t help either. As a result, we ended up losing the test match by an innings and 7 runs. That is ‘some’ humiliation for the top team. Well… One thing I really hate and I’m sure all of those who have achieved even a small ‘any thing’ in their life will hate too, is to prove the critics wrong. No other captain has ever managed to take the team to the top slot. Yet all of them question the strategies of the one (MS Dhoni) who was able to do it. Now we had to beat South Africa to retain the No. 1 spot. A draw would have meant SA won the series and hence we would have been the no. 2 by just a point, handing the position to our opponents. Any other day, I would have said may the best team win. But thanks to these Bull@#$% critics, I was praying for our victory. India had to come back and boy… did they come back strongly.

South Africa lost the match by an innings and 57 runs, thanks to an inspired spell from Harbhajan Singh. He took and mantle in the absence of an injured Zaheer Khan, took the wickets and silenced the critics, both his and ours. Kudos to the team, a great victory on a great historic ground.

PS: I’m celebrating Indian victory. But my practical brain says a thing. This was dubbed as a world championship of test cricket. Because the two teams were battling to gain the number one spot. India lost by an innings in the first match at Nagpur and then SA obliged by accepting an innings defeat in the second match at Kolkata. Though it shows how closely fought the contest was, it also shows how inconsistent the teams are. Is it not?

Steyned!!!

… or Stunned? That is what the spectators and fans of Indian team are looking like. We, the recently crowned number one team in the world, playing against the number 2 South Africa on our own soil and on a flat track in Nagpur are staring haplessly at innings defeat.

Defeat now looks only a formality. I haven’t seen a better application of perfect reverse swing and pace for a long time. We are stung by the Dale bee. Or should I say we are Steyned?

I’m talking about test cricket! Anyway, that makes me ask you a question. Do we deserve the No. 1 spot?

The News Makers of 2009

2009 is on his way out. Here is my take on the 10 most featured and most discussed news makers of India in 2009. Remember, this is only my take on the people, places, parties and things. Enjoy!

  • Ajmal Aamer Kasab: A guy like hi needs no introduction. Unlike the others who accompanied him through the sea route, created a havoc on Mumbai on 26/11/2008 and died for their cause, Ajmal Kasab was captured alive and looks all set to very much remain alive for the year 2009 too. The shoddy governance and the inability of the police to frame the case means Kasab keeps doing the U turns on his confessions and enjoys a protected stay, savoring Chicken Biryani. Shame on us and our judiciary system.
  • Chandrayaan: This has been a major boost to India’s mission to moon, or should I say ISRO and its space programs. After already spending close to some $ 80 million on the project, the shuttle final entered the Moon’s orbits and boy, what a job it did. The ISRO scientists not only claimed but proved that indeed they found water on moon. It came as a shock initially to every other nation. But later it was confirmed and accepted even by NASA. Chandrayaan 1 has made us a lot proud. Chandrayaan 2 is already in progress and slated for a launch in Dec, 2013.
  • Sonia Gandhi, Dr. Manmohan Singh and Congress: It makes me wonder, why is the Congress government elected time and again? There are many people like me. But none have the answers. So I have no choice but to accept the good performances by Dr. Manmohan Singh and Sonia Gandhi yet again. Despite the terror attacks and the instability, Congress managed to come back to power and is very much likely to stay. AT least we have a stable government. I’m happy.
  • Sachin Tendulkar and the Indian Cricket Team: Indian team and Sachin Tendulkar were both in the news for long time this year. Although they could not repeat the success of the T20 championship they won two years back, they did scale new heights by convincingly beating almost all the teams they played against (including Australia) and captured the pinnacle of test cricket rankings in November after they beat Sri Lanka. Sachin Tendulkar surpassed the world record of being the highest run scorer in test cricket beating Brian Lara and also completed his 20 years in international cricket. I think he might have easily surpassed the definition of a Legend as well.
  • Large Hadron Collider: I simply dont know what to comment on this one. It simply created a lot of furore and panic around the world. But nothing really happened. The had scheduled a second run in November. I’m sure it was successful. But what was the end result of it? Has it answered the fundamental question of the existence? WIll it answer in future? I’m sure we will hear more of it in future.
  • Stock Exchanges, Dr. Y V Reddy and Dr. Subbarao: That name Dr. Y V Reddy appears there in the heading because I think he was largely responsible to prevent India and Indian banks from going down the recession drain. Dr. Subbarao, who took over from Dr. Reddy as the governor of RBI had himself acknowledged the fact that it was difficult for him to match what Dr. Reddy had done. But he indeed matched. The stock market did plummet to 8 thousand some thing, but bounced back and thank fully doing well. India is credited today for largely keeping the economy stable despite difficult economic conditions. All credit to Dr. Reddy, Dr. Subbarao and and the financial planners
  • Tiger Woods: Again, need I say more? A person who redefined golfing also went ahead and redefined the serial monogamy. The stories of his casanova acts are dominating the world news papers today. And there are so many, it might even over shadow Giovanni Jacopo Casanova, the original one 🙂
  • The Copenhagen Summit: Climate change is the prime concern today and will remain a prime concern unless we dramatically or radically change the way things are. The summit was attended by the UNFCCC member countries. They did arrive on an ‘agreement’ drafted by US, India, China, Brazil and South Africa, named as ‘Copenhagen Accord’. However it was only recognised and not accepted. This becomes another reference and another conference, meaning Climate change issue will resurface soon.
  • Shiney Ahuja, Ruchika, Jessica Lal, Aarushi: All of them have been criminal cases, some recent and some long pending. Top story earlier was the denial of bail for Shiney Ahuja, who is accused of raping his minor maid. Recently the Jessica Lal murder case and the Ruchika molestation case has been reopened. The debate still goes on. The talking point, in my opinion is, there are many other Ruchikas and Jessicas around us. We need to reopen them all. This is why most of the common people do not believe in Indian Judiciary.
  • The bollywood flops: There have been many. Consider this, 138 films have been released in 2009, and only 4 of them can be classified as hits. Sorry state, isn’t it? Bollywood was not even helped by the ongoing feud between the distributors and producers as well. But that remains the story. It started with Ghajini (released in Dec 2008), then we saw Love Aaj Kal, Ajab Prem ki Ghazab Kahani, New York and finally 3 Idiots. And all of them have been differently made movies. I think the KJo’s and the Chopras of Bolly world need to under stand this. The viewer is short of patience. SO dont show us another Kurbaan or a Dilli 6. Dont teach us… entertain us!

So thats me Mayur signing off 2009 on a happy note. Happy new year to you all. Ta!

Ponder Thunder

Have you ever wondered on any of these things?

  • We are a country divided by race, ethnicity, religions and united by the cricket team of India.
  • Some of the most popular television advertisements are always made by the brand that is number two or three in India. Example Vodafone, Motorola, Surf, Boost, Pepsi.
  • Also, we remember all of these ads but hardly any of these products. Even have actually not influenced our decision to buy.
  • Best place to rant is your diary, your blog and your mobile phone… and best place to vent your frustration out is a football field or the kitchen.
  • Your mobile phone will essentially vibrate every time you are in the middle of an interview or with your boss discussing on some thing important. Interestingly, it will be in your lower or back pocket… making the matter worse.
  • What maketh a man these days is fat pay package, sexy mobile and great contacts… no longer his manhood.
  • Why does, “Hey… good news!” always means someone’s getting married or becoming a parent? Aren’t other news good?
  • (Latest) The extension rings and your boss calls exactly the moment you return from the coffee machine with a hot cup. He eats your time directly proportional to the amount heat lost by the coffee.