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12-06-2011, 06:18 AM #1
Dhoni’s Test form, a cause for worry or an aberration?MS Dhoni’s average of 38 in Test match cricket is second among current wicket-keepers, only to Matt Prior. That statistic, by itself, should becalm the jittery Dhoni fans, who would know that his form has not been the greatest.
In fact, a friend, who happens to be a rather huge fan of the Indian captain, was candid enough to admit that the monkey on Dhoni’s back is fast metamorphosing into a gorilla after the first innings duck at the Kotla. The monkey being, that of his inability in recent times, to get the scores in the longer format of the game.
Barring the two 70s that he scored at Birmingham against England earlier this year, there have been scores of 0, 0, 16, 2, 5, 74, 28, 16, 5, 0, 17 and 3 before the first innings against West Indies failed to yield anything. His average this year is 24, but remove that Birmingham Test match and it capitulates to less than 14!
Since becoming the captain, this has been Dhoni’s worst year, by a daylight, with the bat in Test matches. Before this, he has averaged 41 last year, 92 in 2009, 35 in 2008 and 52 in 2007 – all in the range of good to excellent.
There are still three more games after the current one at Delhi for Dhoni to correct the numbers, so that is the one positive.
Of course, some may argue that it is only a matter of one year and that the captain should be back among the runs. One can only hope that happens, but two counters to that.
One, it is not as if Dhoni is going through a bad patch – his ODI record definitely does not suggest so. Quite the opposite, in fact. Not too many Indian cricketers can boast of winning back to back man-of-the-series awards, something he did against England in the ODIs, both, at home and away this year.
Two, it is about how Dhoni bats – with a technique reminiscent of an India wrestler practicing his art before a nightout at the local ‘Akhara’ Championship fight. Much like Virender Sehwag, it is his own technique and he has been successful at it at most times. But it comes with its own cons, the way he bats and the tendency is for such poor scores to look even worse.
It is probably an illusion but the sense it gives is that if he was not the captain, Dhoni would have difficulties retaining his place in the Test side.
My own sense is that Dhoni is an intelligent cricketer and it is only a matter of time before he finds his touch in this format. Rest assured though, Australia will look to test him on the hard and bouncy pitches back home....being a human...