India lost to New Zealand in the second T20 of the two-match series played at Chennai. With the first match being washed out due to rain, New Zealand with the win, won the series as well. Indian team will be very disappointed with the result as the match was there for the taking. India were cruising at one stage and it looked as if India will win the match with at least an over to spare. But in the end, India fell short by just one run and with six wickets remaining. India will know that they missed a golden opportunity to beat the Kiwis for the first time in T20 matches.
The match changed when Virat Kohli, who was batting superbly got out, and in walked Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni with India needing only 48 runs of just 40 deliveries. The equation was very much in favour of the Indians with the powerful batting line up and with seven wickets in hand.
But things changed dramatically as Dhoni played a lot of dot balls and that took the toll on the required run-rate. Dhoni off-late has changed his approach quite dramatically. He takes a lot of time to settle especially when India is chasing. People will remember the controversy that struck the Indian team after the tied one-day match against Sri Lanka in the Commonwealth Bank series in Australia. Indian opener Gautam Gambhir after the match said that Dhoni should have finished the match 2-3 overs before and that sparked the controversy.
Let’s have a look at how Dhoni shaped up his innings in the match against New Zealand. When Dhoni came in the 14th over the required run-rate was 7. It went to 7.8 after the end of the 15th over. At the end of the 16th over it was 8.75. It went up to 10.66 after the end of the 17th over. Dhoni at that point was nine from 15 balls. Yes, Dhoni was not batting alone, Yuvraj was at the other end but he was scoring at a good pace with his 25 runs coming from 18 balls.
The rate kept on increasing, with India needing 25 runs from 12 balls. In the final over India needed 13 and could only score 11, Dhoni remained unbeaten on 22 runs of 23 deliveries.
Dhoni in the post-match presentation ceremony said that the pitch slowed up and it was hard to score quickly and that is true. But the thing in question is his approach. He in the past has said that he likes having wickets in hand even if the required run-rate goes up. He has proved his words as well, but what one can’t understand is why create such situation where you need a magical innings.
Now, let’s look at the future. India is strong contender for lifting the T20 World Cup to be held in Sri Lanka in a couple of weeks. MS Dhoni is a tremendous captain and player but stats that Dhoni scores at the slowest pace in the Indian team that will play in Sri Lanka.
Dhoni’s strike-rate of 109 in international T20 matches is the lowest among all the players who have played more than one innings. In the 15-member Indian squad only Manoj Tiwary (strike rate of 88 from one match), Ashok Dinda (strike rate of 95 from one match), Piyush Chawla (not batted in the three matches that he has played) and L Balaji (not played a single match) are below the Indian captain in terms of strike rate.
Yes, the list includes the bowlers as well, Harbhajan Singh with a strike rate of 120, Zaheer Khan (130), Irfan Pathan (125), R Ashwin (124) are far ahead of Dhoni’s strike-rate which is 109.
When it comes to comparing Dhoni to the batsmen then the Indian captain lacks far behind in terms of scoring runs per hundred bowls. Everyone from Gautam Gambhir (122), Virender Sehwag (152), Virat Kohli (134), Rohit Sharma (127), Suresh Raina (137) and Yuvraj Singh (150) are much above Dhoni when it comes to scoring runs quickly.
Dhoni does have a good average of 30.89 but T20 cricket needs batsmen to score their runs at good pace and Dhoni will agree that he takes far too much time to get his innings going.
People say that stats do not give the complete picture. But the same stats made Dhoni the number one batsmen in the world in ODIs. It does look that Dhoni will have to change his approach a bit in T20s or the thing that happened against New Zealand can happen again.
By Gaurav Jha
Indian Sports News Network