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Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Dhoni stands back to Ravindra Jadeja ... leads to win at Lords

India won at Lords ……….. on the final day – Indian fans agonisingly looked forward to breaking the partnership of Joe Root and Mooen Ali – which came a ball prior to lunch………. Closer to lunch,  the optimistic fan had started recalling bad memories of Johannesburg and Wellington where in recent times India could not push victories when everything looked certain !   then when it seemed England were closing in on runs too (at that point of time it was 25 of each batsman required to eclipse the target)  MS Dhoni went to  Ishant Sharma. In England, success comes to those bowlers who bowl fullish length and allow the ball to swing ….. it was to the man, whom we had often asked, how he gets picked up despite being so ordinary………… the tall man, kept bouncing – and English batsmen kept (mis) hooking zeroing in on the deep fielders.

One end was bottled up by Ravindra Jadeja and something funny was happening… we have seen good wicket-keepers stand up (come nearer) to medium pacers to prevent batsmen charging out of crease……. Dhoni was standing a good 4 yards back …. Jadeja is no Bedi, Maninder, Doshi, or Pragyan Ojha……..

On gleaning about wicket-keepers,  read something Ramachandra Guha wrote on keepers from Madras & Tamilnadu.  In the 1930s there was Dr. S.V.T. Chari, a brave man who kept up to the wicket to Mohammed Nissar in his only "unofficial" Test, and then abandoned the cricket field for the operating table. In the 1940s there was M. O. Srinivasan, who also played once for India.  In the 1950s there was D. L. Chakravarti;  In the 1960s there were P.K. Belliappa and K.R. Rajagopal, each gifted with the bat and the big gloves, both of international class, yet denied the India cap by the presence of Budhi Kunderan and Faroukh Engineer. In the 1970s and 1980s there was Bharat Reddy, ….. to Girish, Reuben Paul, Dinesh Karthik ….. in a World enraptured by big hitting batsmen and great bowlers – the position of Wicketkeeper is often a tough one.  He has to remain crouched throughout the innings, setting the tone for energy levels and body language. Since he's closest to the batsman, his job is to convey the team's mood to the opponent, and of course to intimidate him. It is gruelling job and thankless one too.   

For  ages, the record for highest score by an Indian wicket keeper stood at 192 ~ those were the runs made by Budhisagar Krishnappa Kunderan way back in 1964 against England – in Feb 2013 at Chepauk against Australia  – Dhoni made epic 224.   On the day when he came to bat - Dhoni scored 206 of the 319 runs; of his ninth-wicket stand worth 109, his partner  Bhuvneshwar  scored only 16.

In an IPL match, Kedar Mahadav Jadhav, a batsman, who bowls off breaks and occasionally keeps wickets……… was seen having removed his right hand glove and keeping with only one glove on, a move that was to allow him throw faster, should batsmen try to run a single when ball comes to the keeper… such strange acts have occurred occasionally. 

In 2009, the first ODI between Kiwis and Aussies was won by Vettori’s men but   was marred by a controversy as Brad Haddin dislodged the bails off Neil Broom.  Haddin's gloves were in front of the stumps and knocked off the bails, with Michael Clarke's delivery also appearing to head over the stumps.  The  rules are categorically clear that  a no-ball should be called if the wicketkeeper does not stay behind the stumps until the ball touches the batsman, passes the stumps, or a run is attempted. 

Now here is something from Cricinfo on Dhoni standing back : In the 21st over of England's second innings at Lord's, MS Dhoni did something many commentators - former cricketers all - claimed they had never seen before. Two balls into Ravindra Jadeja's seventh over, Dhoni got rid of his helmet and stood further behind the stumps than usual. He kept doing so whenever Jadeja bowled to left-hand batsmen. For right-hand batsmen, he would return to the normal position of standing up to the stumps. As the unusual scene of Dhoni standing close for the medium-pacer Bhuvneshwar Kumar and back for the spinner Jadeja played out, the experts began to guess what exactly he was trying to do.

Some thought Dhoni was being funky for the sake of it. A little too funky. Others said they had last seen this in an Under-11 match. Some felt an edge off Jadeja's pace and extra bounce would be easier to take if the keeper was standing back. The majority agreement, though, was that on an uneven pitch in a tense Test, Dhoni was a little too worried about conceding byes off Jadeja, who was firing the ball into the rough - an extremely cynical view to take, even for the sternest critics of Dhoni's captaincy. After India's 95-run win, Dhoni revealed why he had stood back. It did have a lot to do with the rough, the uneven bounce and Jadeja's pace, but the move was necessitated because of the laws of cricket. A catch had just lobbed wide of Virat Kohli at leg gully. Dhoni needed two leg gullies - or a leg slip and a leg gully - but that would mean sacrificing short fine leg to meet the rule of not having more than two fielders behind square on the leg side. No fine leg meant an easy getaway sweep shot. So Dhoni went for a home remedy. He asked Kohli to move squarer for the meatier edge, and he took a couple of steps back so he had the time to go for the fine edge down the leg side. The bigger danger of this plan, however, was of Dhoni missing a stumping or watching the batsmen use their feet comfortably.

So keepers stand back, stand up …….and this one just stood out … in Nov 2010,  Cricket was plunged into fresh turmoil as a leading Pakistan player fled his team's hotel in Dubai and flew to London, claiming he had received death threats after scoring the winning runs in a one-day international. Wicketkeeper Zulqarnain Haider posted a message on his Facebook page saying that he was "leaving Pakistan cricket" because he had received a "bad message from one man to lose the last game".  Haider arrived at Heathrow airport as his teammates played their deciding one-day match against South Africa back in Dubai, which Pakistan lost.

To conclude – I have seen this man in Temple and conducting bhajans for children at what is MOP School at Venkatrangam Street now.  He reportedly played Hockey  and was a good swimmer too.  A different wicketkeeper was played in each of the three `Tests' against the Australian Services side, which played in India on their return from England in 1945. And MO Srinivasan was the first of the three tried out, in the opening game of the series at Bombay. Going in at No 11, he made 0 and 4, being unbeaten on both occasions. That remained his only international experience. An efficient wicketkeeper and a useful tail end batsman, he played ten games for Madras in the Ranji Trophy in the forties.

Born in 1918, Mandayam  Srinivasan, a student of Hindu High School in Triplicane, was a prominent player on the city scene from 1941 to 1948. He  played for Rest of India and Indian XI against the Australian Services alongside Vijay Merchant, Lala Amarnath, Vijay Hazare and Rusi Modi. He also turned up for South Zone against the West Indies in 1948-49. He played for Triplicane Cricket Club in the city league along with the late M. J. Gopalan and C. R. Rangachari, and also for Sounder Cricket Club. Later his son  M.O. Parthasarathy  played for Tamil Nadu and Bihar in the Ranji Trophy and also represented the East Zone in Deodhar Trophy. Have seen him bowl leg spin with a slightly different action and bat in the middle order.

Standing back or close – Dhoni could lead Indians to an ecstatic victory at Lords
With regards – S. Sampathkumar

22nd July 2014.

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