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Dhoni here to stay
by Gulu Ezekiel
Apr 23, 2006
Mahendra Singh Dhoni certainly deserves his moment of fame as the current top ODI batsman in the world.

Dhoni is just one point above Australian captain Ricky Ponting in the latest ICC rankings and with the ODI series in Bangladesh round the corner, the Indian sensation will in all likelihood be nudged out of the top spot.

Still, his rise from obscurity to world fame in less than two years is surely one of Indian cricket’s most heartening success stories.

Unlike some one-series wonders - the case of all-rounder Vijay Bharadwaj springs to mind - Dhoni is surely here to stay. His batting average is in the 50s, phenomenal in one-day cricket, despite his flamboyance at the crease which obviously increases the risk of getting out early.

Public memory being so short, the image of Dhoni falling out to an atrocious shot in the second innings of the Mumbai Test last month is now all but forgotten and forgiven by his adoring fans.

The last time a young cricketer captured the imagination of a nation in this manner was when Yuvraj Singh burst on the scene so dramatically in Nairobi in 2000.

The Indian one-day team has succeeded this season largely due to the mighty hitting of Dhoni and Yuvraj and the solidity of captain Rahul Dravid, backed up by a young and eager bunch of medium pacers led by the ever-improving Sreesanth. Off spinner (and useful bat) Ramesh Powar too deserves a special mention.

Quite apart from individual achievements, with Yuvraj and Dravid also making it into the ICC top 10, it has been the ODI record of the team that is most heartening.

Coming back to win the second ODI against Pakistan at Abu Dhabi on Wednesday after a disappointing first match (what a pity there was no decider!) epitomises the resilience of this squad.

It means since October 2005 India have played 26 ODIs, winning 18 and losing six (two abandoned) which is an outstanding record and has catapulted them to third in the ICC ODI rankings behind Australia and South Africa. And remember, when coach Greg Chappell took charge two years back India were ranked way down at number seven. Surely a lot of credit for this meteoric rise should go to Chappell, even accounting for the team's slide in Test cricket.

The best barometers of India's success has been the fact that the batting has not suffered one bit in the absence of Sachin Tendulkar. In fact it is his injury that saw to it that Suresh Raina got an extended run and what a revelation his batting and fielding have been.

Except for certain pockets in the country, the coach’s spat with ex-skipper Sourav Ganguly has now been pushed to the background.

Of course, Indian cricket being so unpredictable there is still the chance of Ganguly making a comeback when the team for the Test series in the West Indies is chosen.

The ODI team announced on Thursday does not contain any surprises and that too is an indication of how successfully the nucleus of a winning outfit has been formed over the last six months.

 
More Views by Gulu Ezekiel
  Book Review - My Journey to the World Cup: The Sky is the Limit
  When Pietersen played in Duleep Trophy
  Foul language on the field of play
  Sachin Tendulkar was the one great unifier that brought the nation together
  The Great Tamasha: Cricket, Corruption and the Turbulent Rise of Modern India
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