India tour of England: India don’t show intent when MS Dhoni seeks safety net

MS Dhoni has taken decisions that suggest he is happy to try and hold the game where it is, says Harsha Bhogle.

MSD_ap_m Captain MS Dhoni's tactics in Manchester are questioned by Harsha Bhogle. (Source: AP)
Published on:August 12, 2014 9:53 am

get twenty wickets and so preferred what seemed the safer option-someone who would give him 30 steady overs. Maybe this is the outcome of the matches in Johannesburg and Wellington where his bowlers let him down, maybe that wound was still fresh, but by his actions, Dhoni betrayed his real feelings. As we all do in life I guess!

Aaron was incisive at Manchester. And he was erratic. But the opening for India, through the wickets of Cook, Ballance and Moeen, all achieved through pace, was provided by him. Maybe Umesh Yadav would have been similarly successful but India preferred two medium pacers to him. Neither Ishwar Pandey nor Pankaj Singh will ever win you a test match overseas but they are so typically Indian seamers; people India are comfortable picking. We keep falling into the dangerous safety net.

In limited overs cricket, where there are two end points to an innings, wickets and overs, Dhoni’s holding style works well. If you can consume overs for few runs, a style he used wonderfully with Yuvraj Singh in the World Cup, you can still win. But you need the more adventurous fellows in test cricket because 3-70 from 14 overs is better than 0-40 from 15 (unless of course the others are taking wickets!).

Also, in overseas conditions, the pitch is no longer India’s friend. A third or fourth day track in India is often the spinner’s accomplice. You do a bit and the pitch does a bit and together you win. In Australia, or South Africa, or on pitches like in Southampton or Manchester, the pitch tests your friendship. You need to put in more to get out more.

Dhoni could well argue that if his batsmen give him 150 and 160 there is little any captain can do. But I wonder sometimes, and this is just thinking aloud, if the way the batsmen bat is also a reflection of what is in their mind. But that is for another day!

I will watch Dhoni carefully at the Oval.

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