Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Idle Minds

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The world cup has no buzz. This is official. I can tell because my normally savvy blogger buddies are down to nitpicking. They have collectively arrived at the conclusion that Dhoni is a leader but not a great captain. If I didn't know these guys, I would have thought that they deserved an unescorted vacation to Waziristan.

What set these young minds off on a witch (or wizard) hunt are the comments Dhoni made after India's game against Australia. He had the temerity to demand runs from Piyush Chawla who twirled his way to 4 decent Australian scalps in the game. The outrage this spurred from my reasonable friends ranged from "unnecessary pressure" to "lack of confidence in his top 7" to "fell off my chair" to "bemusement" and the like.

I put this down to the lack of good cricket going around. An idle mind is a devil's workshop. And intelligent idle minds are fertile grounds for such pursuits. As soon as the world cup starts, I'm sure we will return to normalcy.

Let me put forth some of my own devilry.

First, Chawla has been picked ahead of more accomplished performers such as Ojha and dare-I-say Amit Mishra. Piyush Chawla was nowhere in the picture and it was well-speculated that he made it to the team based on Dhoni's insistence.

The logic for his inclusion was his ability to bat better than those that were left out. A look at Chawla's record for UP and Kings will suggest that he is no mug with the bat. The reason this was needed in the first place was because India's batting in South Africa didn't truly reflect their recent capability. So Chawla's selection was a risk mitigation plan. Just in case we need some runs, would have been the reasoning.

Yuvraj Singh and Raina's poor form has put some onus on the lower order to chip in with some runs. It's a strategy for adversity and not plan A. It's plan B or perhaps C. Harbhajan Singh has developed decent batting skills while retaining his position as the number one spinner in the side.

Dhoni, perhaps, expects the same out of Chawla. In fact, that's the only reason he could have fought to include him ahead of Ojha. It is also reasonably safe to assume that Chawla has been made aware of this expectation.

Now, Chawla walks in with the score reading 136-7 in the 28th over. He has 22 overs to play in a warm up game. I can't think of a better way to spend some time in the middle and deliver 15-20 runs. Mind you, Dhoni wasn't asking for a huge rearguard. He was simply looking for Chawla to do what he was picked for in a warm-up game to boot. In case, the reader missed the point, this was a warm up game or a practice game. Free batting practice on offer to Chawla and 22 overs to bat.

Chawla had his bat in his arm-pits with less than 5 runs added to the team score with is personal contribution being zero. He had Pathan batting at the other end. All he needed to do was block out the balls and give the strike to Yusuf. He didn't deliver. He didn't justify his selection.

For 22 overs after that Dhoni and Kirsten probably spent time in the pavilion reminding Chawla of his lack of responsibility. Chawla did well to get four wickets and save India the blushes. But he had the opportunity BEFORE he came on to bowl to justify his selection and the faith that his captain and leader had placed in him.

How he will react to the criticism by Dhoni is something left to him. I don't see what the fuss is all about. The four wickets came well after Chawla messed up his opportunity to spend time in the middle in a warm up game and justify the reasons for which he was selected.

I applaud Dhoni for keeping things in context and challenging Chawla to do better at batting. If this is not a sign of a good captain and a leader, I don't know what is. His candor is refreshing. India are lucky to have a captain that gets it and not a captain that gets carried away.

This post is in response to


Golandaaz said...

You are making things up in defending Dhoni. Want to know the real reason why Chawla was picked?

Here goes

Vidooshak said...

Good one...

straight point said...


don't know about the other 'idle minds' but as far as i go my impressions on dhoni has a bit of history...

in any case i am a pakka kanjoos so i give credit only where it is strictly due... :)

Vidooshak said...

SP - You are being too polite with me. I was looking for a fight. :-)