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BISHAN SINGH BEDI

Mr Bedi is a former cricketer.

Dhoni’s captaincy needs serious scrutiny

MS Dhoni

ow that we have reached the business end of the ICC World Cup, it is imperative to have a quick evaluation of Team India's performance so far. With the knockout matches about to kick off, India's performances raise some very fundamental questions.

To begin with, our spinners are failing to create any kind of magic on home turf. They have completely underperformed in the World Cup so far. And interestingly, spinners from other teams are performing tremendously well. Harbhajan Singh, the star off spinner of our team, looks disappointing. He is completely out of form, is getting unnecessarily tense and seems keener to bowl dot balls. Being the leading off spinner of the team, he needs to throw wicket-taking deliveries and not dot balls! It is high time Harbhajan concentrates on picking up wickets.

Next, it is hard to understand why Mahinder Singh Dhoni is so unreasonably fond of Piyush Chawla. Despite Chawla's repeated failured, Dhoni doesn't seem affected. Dhoni should drop Chawla at once and replace him with R. Ashwin. Ashwin is a far more capable bowler than Chawla. In fact, Ashwin can prove to be one of India's biggest resources and has the brilliance to bowl at par with Harbhajan Singh. Not giving Ashwin a chance is not only an injustice to him, the decision also amounts to depriving India of a crucial performer in front of whom a mediocre bowler like Chawla stands no comparison. Dhoni may have plans to include Ashwin in the knockout matches, but my fear is that it will be too late by then as Ashwin's confidence will suffer a major blow in the meanwhile.

part from bowling, Indian fielding suffers enormously. In fact, this is the weakest link in our team at present. As they say, "catches win matches". We, however, are lagging behind majorly in our fielding. In every match so far, we have given away at least 20-30 extra runs to our opponents because of loose fielding. This is a real area of concern for Team India.

Captain Dhoni's performance, too, needs scrutiny. So far, he seems too defensive to be considering Team India's interest first, and that of his personal performance later. His decisions over team selections have been unreasonable, and surprisingly, his wicket-keeping has been very ordinary. It seems that his confidence has taken a backseat. This is bad news for the team as it is crucial for the captain to remain upbeat; else the morale of the entire team will hit a low. Dhoni hasn't been a 'thinking captain' until now. There needs to be a drastic change in his attitude. He needs to be a lot more aggressive in his bowling and fielding strategies.

Team India's performance with the bat is yet to fire up and has been very mediocre so far except in the match against Bangladesh. The middle order has been performing way below expectations. In fact, Dhoni has a vital role to play in this regard. If he reshuffles the batting lineup, India will be a lot more aggressive when bowling against opponents. Our team has to improve in all departments to win the trophy.

After the World Cup in 1996, the ICC has brought back the knockout format this time around, which means that India will have to win each and every match when the quarter finals begin. In fact, a team will have to win three games back to back to reach the finals in Mumbai. This is where the tough patch starts for India and where the real trial triggers off. Team India has to come up in a whole new avatar with more killer instinct and ruthlessness, which, unfortunately has been missing in Dhoni's Men in Blue. It is the team that is both ruthless and efficient that will win this year's World Cup.

I sincerely hope that Team India learns from her shortcomings and gears up for the knockout matches as a go-getter. Otherwise we are destined to make an early exit.

 
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