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Dhoni says no to old age home, prefers young legs
by NT Shiv Kumar
Jan 21, 2008
By NT Shiv Kumar - Dreamcricket Special Columnist

Aussies were stuck at ‘sweet sixteen’ thanks to India’s rookie pacemen who were brilliantly led and inspired by their skipper. An indefatigable fighter that he is, Anil Kumble buried the ghosts of Sydney as swiftly as his inimitable flipper to whack the Aussies at the WACA. His dignity and poise in handling the Sydney sausage seemed to have made an influential impact on the Aussie behavior at Perth- Punter didn’t grunt, Gilly didn’t chirp, Clarke didn’t pretend (he just dropped the catch to make it easy for the umpires this time), Symonds was ‘caged’ by Kumble’s relentless darts and Hayden was helpless, cooling his hamstrings. Never since the 2005 Ashes did the Aussies look so fallible as they were against India at the WACA. It was, for a welcome change, man biting dog at Perth!

Amidst all the euphoria emanating from this momentous win, Kumble’s entry into the hallowed 600 club took a backseat and yet again this wonderful and genial servant of Indian cricket was under-served on hype and glory that seem to follow only the lesser mortals in the shorter version of the game. Eighteen years of yeoman service- wheeling more deliveries than any bowler in the history of Indian cricket, scripting innumerable wins at home and away, displaying indomitable spirit and gumption at every challenge and criticism thrown at him or his team and exemplifying the highest degree of dignity and maturity in his much delayed captaincy stint- Anil Kumble shines brightest in the star studded Indian cricket galaxy. He pioneered and practiced a rare art-not leg spin, but ‘smart-spin’-that was an all-weather, all-season durable. Rain or sunshine, dust or grass-Kumble was a fine exponent of cerebral gymnastics manifesting thru subtlety in pace and length. Except for Aravinda Desilva and Arjuna Ranatunga, no batsman could claim to have out-smarted his guile.

The selectors (and Dhoni) deserve all kudos for retiring the tired legs from the ODI’s- Dravid and Dada have been awesome but its time to move on. Ganguly probably didn’t expect this ‘sudden death’ but selectors must have felt there was no logic or justice in dropping Dravid and Laxman while retaining Ganguly, his recent statistically brilliant half centuries notwithstanding. Having all of them would mean Dhoni running an old age home during the CB series. Young legs are back- Raina, Uthappa, Gambhir and Rohit Sharma should ensure they don’t fluff this opportunity of a lifetime to come good against quality attack on ‘not-so-flat’ tracks. It’s an excellent selection based on form, promise, fitness and talent. They may still do badly and not qualify for the finals but there is no better opportunity than this to create the ‘next-generation’ ODI nucleus. Murali Karthik deserves much sympathy for being left out again but he can fancy a comeback for the next home series if Symonds gets after Bhajji!

Moving on to the Adelaide Oval – Jaffer should be benched for Dinesh Karthik or if there is any hint of turn, go for Bhajji and get Pathan to open with Sehwag. Regardless of the composition, Kumble will go flat out for the series leveler.

More Views by NT Shiv Kumar
  Sehwag sizzler rocks Chennai
  India unearth ABC down under - Agility, Bench Strength, Cerebral Approach
  Dhoni says no to old age home, prefers young legs
  Opener Dravid crucial for India’s game plan
  Aussie Muscles Flexed by Indian Nerves
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