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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Manish Pandey & Bumrah help India salvage some prestige at Sydney

I had earlier posted on the innovative Spider camera seen at Chepauk during IPL 4 in Sept. 2011.

SCG at last, gave us a win – the hero was Manish Pandey who shot into limelight with a century in IPL.  His century in third innings is the least by any Indian batsman.  Surprisingly, the earlier record holder is not Sachin, Sehwag, Dravid, Ganguly but Kedar Jadhav, who got his first century in his fourth innings, against Zimbabwe in Harare in 2015. Manoj Prabhakar(1987) and MS Dhoni (2005) got their maiden ton in their fifth innings.

At SCG – the  first ball Virat Kohli faced in a tight and ultimately successful chase at SCG should have gone for four runs. Instead, the ball was called dead because it hit the spidercam on its way to the boundary. In the last Test that India had played at the SCG, Steven Smith dropped a sitter from KL Rahul because he was distracted by the spidercam.  Dhoni clearly was not amused.  He called for balance when it comes to intruding the field of play for TV gimmicks. He has also spoken about other gimmicks that have mushroomed with the advent of Twenty20. "I am quite a traditional guy," Dhoni said. "I have always felt that… anything that disturbs the game of cricket I don't like it. It all started right from the T20 where people would be like, 'Why don't you wear a mic?', 'Why don't you wear a camera?' "I have always felt there is a need for balance. At the end of the day it is a spectator sport, people watching on television, but at the same time four runs can matter, especially when it is a close game. Those four runs can be crucial. Everyone gets penalised, why not have the same system for the spidercam? Say, 'Okay if you get hit, 2000 dollars per hit.' Let's make it interesting. Dhoni's larger point about the intrusion into the players' space might hold some resonance too, especially shoving cameras up their faces when they have just got out or doing interviews just after their dismissals.

Lot many have been craving for the head of Dhoni ~ it has happened to many quality stalwarts of Indian Cricket – Kapil Dev himself was treated badly towards the end of his career.  In that perspective an article in Cricinfo by Siddharth Monga was found very interesting.  

MS Dhoni likes to take the game into the last over. He did at the SCG. Dhoni likes to hit the first ball of the said last over for a six. He did at the SCG. Much as we would like to console ourselves that Dhoni helped India finish their only win of the series, he was a pale shadow of himself. That he was there to take the match to the deep end was indeed the difference between Canberra and Sydney, but the old Dhoni would have done so with much more deliberation. Here, he did play a panicked shot, and was dropped. He did play across the line, and survived a plumb lbw decision.

We don't know when Dhoni's next ODI will be, or if there will be one (can't bank on a farewell tour for Dhoni), but more than thinking about whether he nearly botched up a fourth chase in the last five chances he will be extremely pleased that two youngsters helped India cross the line they have been finding so difficult to chase. Manish Pandey, in his fourth ODI, and Jasprit Bumrah, on debut, finally provided the support Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli so badly needed. When playing against a superior opponent, you need to scrap until the end. In Canberra, Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav conceded 29 in the last two overs, in Sydney Bumrah bowled the rare Indian yorker to help India concede just seven after the 48th over. In Canberra batsmen other than top three choked, in Sydney, Pandey remained cool. Not to mention the 10 or so runs he saved in the field.

There might be a lesson in here for the selectors to back winners, and perhaps punt a little less.

"The kind of innings Manish Pandey has played, it gives you extra 15 games to settle in and start to do what you need to do” is what Dhoni said. An instructive moment was when Dhoni asked Ishant at the start of an over at the death what field he wanted, and you could hear: "Bumrah wali [the one that Bumrah had]." Here was a veteran trying to emulate what a debutant was doing, and he went on to find success. .. ..  but with all that Manish Pandey is not in the T20 squad while Gurkeerat is in !!

In typical Dhoni fashion he remained noncommittal about what future held for Dhoni the ODI player, joking you might need a public-interest litigation to find out, … wishfully – he continues to play longer and guides more youngsters to maturity.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

24th Jan 2016.

largely reproduced from that article in Cricinfo of Sid Monga

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