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India unearth ABC down under - Agility, Bench Strength, Cerebral Approach
by NT Shiv Kumar
Mar 06, 2008
Same time last year, Indian cricket was in shambles- just two hours of mindless batting against a mercurial Bangladesh saw them getting tossed out of the Caribbean coasts. Twelve months down the road, it’s the Indian Tsunami hitting the Aussie Gold coast!

The victory scenes at the Gabba were reminiscent of the joy at MCG twenty-three years back when Ravi Shastri drove his Audi around- the CB series act was as clinical as the ’85 WCC win just as the T20 crown was as freakish as the ’83 WC triumph. Dhoni’s men completed the magic quadrant of momentous victories in Indian cricket.

Amidst all the euphoria and eulogy, the most heart-warming aspect of India’s campaign has been the compelling confluence of the ‘ABC’ of success in this format-Agility (on field and between wickets), Bench strength and Cerebral approach -all of which was brilliantly concocted and unleashed by Dhoni.

He architected the seemingly bloodless coup that ‘rested’ Dravid first and added Ganguly to that list later on to ensure he had two key slots freed up for injecting agility- Gambhir and Rohit Sharma would never have earned their stripes had the two elder statesmen stayed back to lend ‘experience’ for the CB series. He eschewed the usual Indian tradition of preferring known devil to unknown angel and nothing illustrated Dhoni’s unfettered astuteness better than his benching of Sehwag for the big finals-that bold move saw Uthappa pay tribute to his captain by putting a relatively bigger prize on his wicket in his defining opening partnership with Tendulkar in both the matches.

That the two talented products from Chappell-Dravid school – Dinesh Karthik and Suresh Raina- didn’t get a single game is as much a testimony to the batting riches as it is for Dhoni’s fetish for his ‘instincts’. In Praveen Kumar, India have found a Manoj Prabhakar replica who thankfully seems focused on ‘fixing’ his swing and seam rather than anything else and in an inform Irfan Pathan, the much-needed psychological balance derived from a bowling all-rounder. The emergence of Sharmas- Ishant and Rohit-is the best ‘double joy’ for Indian cricket since the Dravid-Ganguly launch at Lords in ’96.

So all said and done, thanks to Dhoni, there’s an air of ‘aussie-ness’ now in India’s bench pool across all departments of the game, of course with some distance to cover yet in the fine art of ‘sledging’ and ‘shouldering’!

No Indian captain in recent memory- not even Ganguly- has embraced Imran Khan’s time-tested doctrine of ‘horses for courses’ as seamlessly as Dhoni has done over his feisty 6-month captaincy tenure. He emblazons the legendary Khan’s imperious aura synthesized with Javed Miandad’s street-smart chutzpah- truly an intoxicating cocktail to keep India’s ODI fortunes on a perpetual high!

 
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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