Doff your hat to Dhoni the batsman

Cricket : Triangular series: Indian skipper has modified his swashbuckling ways to suit the needs of his team
Last Updated 08 January 2010, 17:55 IST
Doff your hat to Dhoni the batsman

Perhaps not, even after playing 40 Tests with an average of 40.29 and 156 one-dayers in which he averages 51.67. It is probably because the Jharkhandi is not a natural stylist like a VVS Laxman or a master technician like Rahul Dravid or a classicist like Sachin Tendulkar or a maverick like Virender Sehwag.

During the initial phase of his career, Dhoni was viewed just as a slam-bang batsman with not enough technique to last long in international cricket. But Dhoni proved sceptics wrong emphatically and he provided the first glimpses of his desire to excel at the top level in all formats at Lord’s in 2007.

Dhoni stayed glued at the crease for nearly three and a half hours when the ball was swinging uncomfortably en route to an unbeaten fifty to help India earn an improbable draw against England in the first Test, and the innings then was rated as an out of character effort. But as the days progressed, that bloody-mindedness has become second nature.

Now, Dhoni the batsman does not resort to brute power alone and there are a lot of dimensions to his batting as he had showed on Thursday against Bangladesh. India were in a wobbly situation at 51 for three, but Dhoni marshalled two youngsters – Virat Kohli and Suresh Raina – expertly to orchestrate India’s chase of 297.

The unbeaten hundred was a testimony of his re-defined approach to batting. There was hardly any element of risk and any pretensions of being a stylist, but just a sensible approach in sync with the existing conditions. There were no big shots straightway, only those punches and pushes for singles to begin with.

Trademark shots
His trademark heavy-duty drives down the ground and through the covers surfaced well past fifty, the innings was classic example for the art of pacing the innings. Such knocks might not make a connoisseur sit up and watch, but there is a strange appeal to his brutally simple and efficient way of batting.

It has worked well for Dhoni over the years. In the two years as captain,
Dhoni’s average in one-dayers is a stunning 60.73 and that shows the change in his batting style has not affected his efficiency.

“In a way, those numbers can add pressure because people expect you to score a fifty every time you step on to the field. But I would like to see the positive in it. If I can score runs in the previous few games, then I like to think that I am good enough to score in the next few games as well,” Dhoni said.

It is all the more laudable that Dhoni has scored those runs despite often changing his batting position from number three to number six in the 50-over format. It is not a small feat as many batsmen have struggled to adjust when moved out their comfort zone.
“I have been a floater in the batting line-up after the first few series. But it is not an easy task as everyone can’t adjust to the shift easily. For me, it was also the case of taking responsibility as a captain.

“I might be required to come at different positions, so it was a case of preparing mentally. But the good thing about me changing position is that others have moved around me well, making my shift that much easier,” Dhoni added.

So, it is time to give due to credit Dhoni’s effective brand of batsmanship.

(Published 08 January 2010, 17:55 IST)

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