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Let Dhoni be Dhoni!

Sport is a great leveller, and time and again it has been established irrespective of stature of an athlete or nature of the sport. For somebody who was a certainty few years ago, is now being pushed for a place the side. Numbers don’t lie and averages of 27.80 (2016) and 25.00 (2018) in ODIs, testify the growing scrutiny about a certain MS Dhoni’s place in the limited overs team. The magnum opus for this version of the sport is hardly 3 months away, and a string of match-winning efforts have been required to downplay the growing demand for Dhoni’s position in white-ball cricket.
At 99-4, Dhoni was joined by Kedar Jadhav on an uncertain pitch at Hyderabad during the first ODI of the India vs Australia series, and the target of 237 seemed far off. 24.5 overs later Virat Kohli went out to the post-match presentation as the winning skipper and Kedar Jadhav was adjudicated as the player of the match. Quietly at the other end, India’s trusted lieutenant to finish games ended the match with…
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Which Kohli Will Turn Up For The 2017-18 Season?

1st ODI, India vs England, Pune, 15 January 2017. Score 63-4. Dhoni has just been dismissed. The original target of 351, now reads 288 off 229. Kohli is batting on 27*. India’s trio of all-rounders, relatively unfancied, to follow. Kohli scores his 17th hundred in a run-chase, but the hero of the day is Kedar Jadhav whose prominence in the 200-run stand with Kohli took the game away from the opposition. Kohli the batsman extends his incredible record of successful hundreds in run-chases to 17, but Kohli the captain (leading in only his 18th ODI) has found a bankable lower-middle order batsman; the latter more critical as there only 2 more games to play to before India defends its Champions Trophy title in England later in the year.
1st Test, India vs Australia, Pune, 23-25 February 2017. An extraordinarily dry surface greets the opening contest of the big ticket series. India dismiss Australia for 260 after losing the toss. Kohli walks in to bat at 44-2. Two balls later Kohli is back in …

कप्तान कोहली से विराट उम्मीदे!

५जीत, ३ड्रॉ, २हार - येहैबतैरटेस्टकप्तानविराटकोहलीकाडेढ़सालकालेखाजोखा| मैदानमेंअग्रसक्रियसोच, युवाओकोप्रोत्साहनऔरफ़ैसलोमेंजोखिमलेनाऔरउसकीज़िम्मेदारीलेना, येकुछखुभियाँजोइससंक्षिप्तअवधिमेंफॅन्सऔरसमिक्शोकोभारहीहै| कोहलीनेएकपेचेदिभरेमोड़परकमानसंभालीथी, जबटीमऑस्ट्रेलियामेंसंघर्षकरते वक्त धोनीनेअचानकसन्यासकीघोषणाकी| लेकिनअपनेस्वाभावकेअनुरूपकोहलीनेउसजटिलपरिस्थितिकोएकअवसरमेंतब्दीलकिया| भारतनेउसदौरेकीआखरीटेस्टमॅचड्रॉकियाऔर२०१५मेंखेलेगयी२बड़ीशृंखलाओमेंकोहलीकेनेतृत्वमेंभारतनेजीतदर्जकी - श्रीलंकामें२२सालबादजीतऔरदक्षिणआफ्रिकाको३-०सेपछाड़ा| १०टेस्टमॅचभलेहीएकअल्पसमयहोकिसीकेकप्तानीकाआकलनकरनेकेलिए, मगरइतनेकमकार्यकालमेंकोहलीनेअपनीछापछोड़ीहै|
अक्सरकड़ीमेहनतकेबादएकतुलनात्मकरूपसेआसानकामसामनेआताहैजोमेहनतकाफलप्राप्तकरनेकाअवसरप्रदानकरताहै| हालाकीतल्ख़नज़रिएसे, मगरअनिलकुंबलेकेकोचबननेकेबाददिएप्रतिक्रियामेंरविशास्त्रीनेकहाथाकीपिछले१८महीनोमेंभारतीयटीमनेकाफ़ीतरक्कीकीहैऔरअबसमयआ

The Captaincy Conundrum!

8 teams, 60 matches and 7 ‘Indian’ skippers (discounting Duminy and Miller) constituted the recently concluded 9th edition of the Indian Premier League. This featured 2 new teams, unfamiliar captains (Raina, Vijay), seasoned IPL leaders (Gambhir, Rohit, Dhoni), a motivational veteran (Zaheer Khan) and Indian cricket’s man of the moment - Virat Kohli captaining a powerful side. Right through pre-tournament previews till the beginning of the finals, Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) wasn’t the most fancied team in the competition. The team was led by the only non-Indian skipper - David Warner, who didn’t have any prior experience of leading Australia. The middle order appeared fragile and injuries to experienced Indian international players (Nehra and Yuvraj) added to the perceptual woes.
Quietly and probably facilitated by the lack of attention, SRH managed to string in consistent wins and stay in the hunt for the title. The template of SRH was designed to ensure penetration with the new ball …

Avoidable Magnification of Home Advantage?

‘No undue home advantage’ is how Virat Kohli shrugged off criticism with regard to the track at Nagpur in a match which India wrapped in under 3 days. South Africa’s 9-year, 15-test series long unbeaten streak was broken and it also marked a wonderful start to Kohli’s stint as the test team captain on home soil with a series win against the top-ranked test side. Ashwin who ended up match figures of 46-13-98-12 backed his skipper asking, ‘what's the problem with spin and bounce?..It is about skill for batsmen to play it and counter it’. Team director Ravi Shastri added, ‘Nothing wrong with the pitches..I have no qualms about it’. When a cricket match is over and players are questioned more about something other than individual/team accomplishments, you know the events through the course of the match have entered a contentious territory.
In an era of sheer batting domination the success of bowlers from either camp should have been a cause of joy for a cricket fan but instead has comm…

Satisfactory Grades In A Tough Examination!

The googly from Amit Mishra on the last delivery of the 85th over of Sri Lanka’s second innings overwhelmed the number 11 batsman Nuwan Pradeep and sealed a famous, rare series win for India in the island nation. Celebrations, accolades followed and a sense of satisfaction settled on the contemplation of India’s away tours’ log-book for the last two seasons (Oct 2013-Sep 2015). India travelled to 6 test-playing nations within ~21 months, played 17 matches, won only 3 but ticked a lot of boxes affirmatively.
Vijay, Dhawan, Pujara, Kohli, Rohit, Rahane, Dhoni were India’s top 7 in the first test against South Africa in Johannesburg in December 2013; Rahul, Pujara, Rahane, Kohli, Rohit, Binny, Naman Ojha formed the top 7 in the latest test at Colombo versus Sri Lanka. Ashwin, Zaheer, Ishant, Shami were the frontline bowlers then and Ashwin, Mishra, Ishant, Umesh in the recently concluded test. Dhoni retired (from tests) in that phase, likes of Gambhir & more recently Harbhajan were g…

Turning Fortunes On Away Soil!

The day started with the prospect of a famous away win on Independence Day but ended with the team imploding to its 6th test loss since the win at Lord’s last year, something which could well feature in the list of India’s most disappointing losses. With 153 needed at the beginning of day 4, the morning session was to decide the fate of either side and it appeared it to be India’s game to lose despite having to chase that in-between total. By the time the teams broke for lunch India had lost 6 wickets for 55 runs; the win was nothing but sealed for Sri Lanka and India was left to ponder over an alternate approach in the run-chase. The formalities were completed within an hour from lunch with Sri Lanka securing a 63-run win.
As anticipated, Sri Lanka entrusted its spinners in the quest to defend a modest target of 176. The duo of Herath & Kaushal delivered with combined figures of 38.5-7-95-10 out of the overall figures of 49.5-12-112-10. While the reviews of this match would hail C…