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Dhoni defies convention, again

Bangalore, August 31, 2012, DHNS:

It’s a known fact that Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni loves to defy convention. The first day of the second Test between India and New Zealand here on Friday, witnessed Dhoni taking a different route, once again.

The conditions were overcast in Bangalore with a nice breeze wafting across in the morning, and you would expect pacers – Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav -- operating from both ends. But Dhoni preferred to open the attack with left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, the first time a spinner opened the bowling for India in Tests in the first innings.

India never took such a step even in the prime years of the famed spin quartet – S Venkataraghavan, EAS Prasanna, Bishan Singh Bedi and BS Chandrasekhar. Medium pacers Syed Abid Ali and Eknath Solkar used to take the shine away from the ball before the tweakers pressed into attack.

During the reign of Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajit Wadekar as captain and coach respectively in the 90s India had notched up several Test victories at home, riding on the prowess of Anil Kumble, Rajesh Chauhan and Venkatpathy Raju. But India then had relied on Javagal Srinath, who turned 43 on the day, Manoj Prabhakar and Venkatesh Prasad, all handy new ball bowlers, to rattle the opposition upfront before spinners took over.

This day, it might have been Dhoni’s tactic to unsettle the Kiwis, who showed fragile nerves and inadequate technique against spinners in the Hyderabad Test. But Ojha was quite prepared for the task. “He told me once the toss was over that I’m going to open the bowling, and I was quite ready for it. I kept myself blank.

“I knew the new ball wasn’t going to grip, so the best thing was to be disciplined and bowl a straight line where the batsman has to play every ball. Dhoni bhai wanted to give me new ball because there was some moisture on the wicket and the ball gripped, and he wanted me to use it.”

Perhaps, Dhoni was also making a statement by bringing in Ojha in the very first over. The Indian skipper has time and again pleaded with the authorities to give him spin-friendly pitches, but the tracks given to him have failed to live up to his expectations.

Even the Hyderabad pitch on which the spinners – Ashwin and Ojha – bagged a sackful of wickets didn’t satisfy Dhoni, and he made his thinking clear on Thursday.

The way Indian spinners struggled to make an impact on the first day, particularly during the period in which Ross Taylor dominated them with ease, proves the merit in Dhoni’s argument of exploiting the home advantage.

DH News ServiceBangalore: It’s a known fact that Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni loves to defy convention. The first day of the second Test between India and New Zealand here on Friday, witnessed Dhoni taking a different route, once again.

The conditions were overcast in Bangalore with a nice breeze wafting across in the morning, and you would expect pacers – Zaheer Khan and Umesh Yadav -- operating from both ends. But Dhoni preferred to open the attack with left-arm spinner Pragyan Ojha, the first time a spinner opened the bowling for India in Tests in the first innings.

India never took such a step even in the prime years of the famed spin quartet – S Venkataraghavan, EAS Prasanna, Bishan Singh Bedi and BS Chandrasekhar. Medium pacers Syed Abid Ali and Eknath Solkar used to take the shine away from the ball before the tweakers pressed into attack.

During the reign of Mohammad Azharuddin and Ajit Wadekar as captain and coach respectively in the 90s India had notched up several Test victories at home, riding on the prowess of Anil Kumble, Rajesh Chauhan and Venkatpathy Raju. But India then had relied on Javagal Srinath, who turned 43 on the day, Manoj Prabhakar and Venkatesh Prasad, all handy new ball bowlers, to rattle the opposition upfront before spinners took over.

This day, it might have been Dhoni’s tactic to unsettle the Kiwis, who showed fragile nerves and inadequate technique against spinners in the Hyderabad Test. But Ojha was quite prepared for the task. “He told me once the toss was over that I’m going to open the bowling, and I was quite ready for it. I kept myself blank.

“I knew the new ball wasn’t going to grip, so the best thing was to be disciplined and bowl a straight line where the batsman has to play every ball. Dhoni bhai wanted to give me new ball because there was some moisture on the wicket and the ball gripped, and he wanted me to use it.”

Perhaps, Dhoni was also making a statement by bringing in Ojha in the very first over. The Indian skipper has time and again pleaded with the authorities to give him spin-friendly pitches, but the tracks given to him have failed to live up to his expectations.

Even the Hyderabad pitch on which the spinners – Ashwin and Ojha – bagged a sackful of wickets didn’t satisfy Dhoni, and he made his thinking clear on Thursday.

The way Indian spinners struggled to make an impact on the first day, particularly during the period in which Ross Taylor dominated them with ease, proves the merit in Dhoni’s argument of exploiting the home advantage.


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