Keeper and Bangladesh ODIs
We all wanted to know for some time what MS Dhoni could do. What with Ganguly intent on showing his loyalty to Patel despite repeated horrors and Dinesh Karthik being touted as the next big thing, I was wondering if Dhoni would get a look in without giving Karthik a raw deal. So taking Karthik for the tests and Dhoni for the ODIs sounds good ... Dhoni is supposed to be the dasher while Karthik is supposed to be the more accomplished batsman ... so Karthik for tests and Dhoni for ODIs sounds good, at least when we are in the mood for experimentation. These things are small but so important and so easy to screw up ... I still remember Rahul Dravid making his debut in ODIs and really struggling ... it was obvious to one and all that he had class written all over him but he just didn't cut it in the chances he got. Thankfully for Indian cricket, he did get his chances in test cricket and made the best of them.
S. Sriram is an example of what could have been ... I am not placing Sriram and Dravid on equal terms here but Sriram's strength was supposed to be test cricket and he was considered quite promising at one point of time (not that he is considered bad now ... in fact he is in the ODI team too to Bangladesh where he will no doubt hone his drinks-carrying skills) and went to Australia on a BCCI program etc ... but he made his debut in ODIs, flunked pretty bad in the 5 or 6 chances he got and never played a test. What could have been .... we will never know.
A few people suggested to me that Dhoni will most probably warm the bench in Bangladesh since Ganguly is so intent on playing 7 batsmen. An ODI series elsewhere and an ODI series against Bangladesh are two different things and I have no doubts in my mind that Dhoni will get his chances coz making Dravid keep in these ODIs would just be tiring him out for no reason at all. Hell, they could make Ganguly keep wickets and still win the ODI series comfortably. Laxman's absence will also play a part here coz it is always difficult to have a player like Laxman in the squad and not play him. To be fair to the selectors, Laxman despite his good performances against Australia has never been convincing as a ODI batsman. This gives us a good chance to evaluate Dhoni because all said and done, playing Dravid as a keeper is ok; in fact I have always been an active supporter of the move; the point is the next world cup where Dravid will be no longer as young and fit as he is today. In the recent world cup, he was young enough to take the load; he probably won't be for the next world cup.
Kumble's absence from the squad is another good move; I really don't know if he was dropped or he opted out (reports suggest he opted out but in Indian cricket one never knows) but we all know they will play one spinner in ODIs in most cases and it will be Harbhajan. Kumble has done his bit for king and country this year and meaningless drivel against Bangladesh is best avoided. As suggested by many people, I would even advocate his retiring from ODIs to concentrate on test cricket because really, the past year has been a rebirth for his test career and ODI cricket will not really help. His decision, of course, but I think Kumble's days in ODI cricket are numbered.
Closing note on Tendulkar's batting ... all TV channels seem to be debating on whether he is as good as he was and whether he still is the best batsman in the world etc and it is fun watching these programs if only for entertainment value; what was surprising was that even among Mumbai people, there were quite a few who felt he was past his best etc etc etc. My sister lives in Mumbai and I have no regional bias but I have always believed that a Mumbai guy will only praise Tendulkar, come what may. It was surprising to see fans from Mumbai talking about his waning powers.
To finish off, take a look at this link, if u haven't already seen it. It is a nice one. A couple of things are striking - the drastic change in percentage of shots in the cover / point region which is what gave Tendulkar that classy touch (of course that straight drive too) and increase in on side play and play towards third man. Damn, u don't need to be Sachin Tendulkar to open the face of the bat towards third man. The covers are what u gotta aim at when u r Sachin Tendulkar ... coz that is something not everyone does as easily as he did in his heydeys.
Click this link
BTW, I saw that six SRT hit on the last day of the Kolkata test ... came down and hit it far and long with the ease of old. In the recent past, he has been mis-hitting these more often than not and probably that is why he tries to avoid this shot. I was watching some old match on TEN SPORTS and watched SRT and Sidhu take some bowlers to the cleaners, repeatedly coming down the track to the slow bowlers and creaming them over long on and long off. Sighhhhh!