India Wicket Keeper Greatest Batsmen Mahendra Singh Dhoni

India Wicket Keeper Greatest Batsmen Mahendra Singh Dhoni

Dhoni has had a spectacular run as captain over the past 12 months – World Cup victory, number one Test team, IPL triumph and Champions League trophy. These victories should put him in the running for ‘winning-est sportsman of the year’, though Novak Djokovic will end up winning that title come December 2011 (no, it’s not an actual title, but it should be- you ought to be able to recongnise the greatest champion across all sports for a calender year). But Dhoni has not had the greatest run with the bat, particularly in Test matches. His last Test century came over a year ago on a flat Kolkata pitch on which four Indian batsmen scored hundreds in the innings. He’s averaged 26 with the bat over the past 12 months and his overall Test average stands at 38. That’s not bad for a keeper who bats at seven. But this is Mahendra Singh Dhoni, a man who is on course to become on of India’s greatest batsmen ever, at least in the limited overs game.

So how good has Dhoni been in ODIs? He’s 49-88 (Average-Strike Rate, rounded off). In comparison, Tendulkar is 45-86, Ponting is 43-81 while Lara finished at 40-80. Bevan wound up at 54-74, Kallis is at 45-73 and Richards is 47-90 (which is mind-bogglingly brilliant considering the era he played in). Now granted Dhoni has about a third of the career runs of a Sachin and still has a way to go in his career, but at his current pace he’s on track to be rated one of the greatest ODI batsmen ever. And it’s not just about the numbers – Dhoni can also talk about delivering quality performances when they matter (World Cup final or in tight chases in general). His critics talk about his unorthodox technique or his not-so-elegant shots, but the bottom line is the man gets the job done and finds a way to adapt to different situations.

With Tests though, Dhoni has lost his way a bit. Yes, there have been a few unlucky dismissals, but for the most part he hasn’t batted well. Here’s a look at where Dhoni stands amongst the India’s greatest run-scorers in Tests and ODIs

We are simply looking at overall averages in Tests and ODIs, while ignoring other variables like strike rate and era the batsmen played in. Tendulkar stands out for his ability to deliver in both forms of the game. Laxman and Gavaskar show up to be clear Test specialists – amongst the best in the five day game but didn’t have the same success in ODIs. Who’s the other surprising ‘Test specialist’ in there? Virender Sehwag, who really has no business being there (he should be in the Tendulkar category), but is highly inconsistent in ODIs and only averages 35.

By contrast, Yuvraj and Ganguly are ODI specialists, who thrived far better in the 50 over format. Dhoni seems to be the most extreme ODI specialist – the next Bevan – if he keeps going at his current pace. However, he really should be doing better in Tests and he’ll be hoping to get back into some form during the England series. He was averaging about 43 is Tests one year ago and India will need him to get going against a strong opposition.

Tendulkar doubts ‘consistency’ of review system

Tendulkar

Batting superstar Sachin Tendulkar has defended India’s refusal to use the Umpire Decision Review System (DRS) during an upcoming tour of England, saying it needed to be more consistent.

“I am not against DRS, but I feel it will be more effective with the support of the Snickometer and Hot Spot technology. This will give more consistent results,” Tendulkar was quoted as saying by the cricinfo website Friday.

DRS, which allows teams to challenge the umpire’s on-field decisions, has been accepted by most of cricket’s leading nations and was in use at the recent World Cup, which was co-hosted and won by India.

India, however, have been against the system from the time it was used on a trial basis in their series against Sri Lanka in 2008.

The International Cricket Council (ICC) recently called for DRS to be used across all formats but India have maintained their stance, refusing to accept it for their tour of England starting next month.

Tendulkar’s concerns over the accuracy of the technology has been widely perceived as one of the reasons for the Indian board’s opposition.

Hot Spot is an infra-red imaging system used to determine whether the ball has struck the batsman’s bat or pad, while the audio Snickometer is used as a guide to whether the ball touched the bat on its way to the wicketkeeper.

But the latter has not caught on with cricket authorities due to the time it takes to produce an accurate finding.

India eyeing 4-1 series win

India

The morale-shattering 103-run loss to West Indies in the third one-dayer, notwithstanding, India’s vice-captain Harbhajan Singh has exuded confidence that the visitors will sign off the series on a winning note in the fifth and final ODI here tomorrow.

The loss in the fourth ODI in Antigua on Monday will have no impact on the outcome of the series as India had already pocketed the rubber by taking an unassailable 3-1 lead but Harbhajan said a 4-1 series win is what they are eyeing.

“If we keep it simple and stick to the basics, we will get the right results and that would be nice so we can finish the series on a good note and take a 4-1 victory,” said the off-spinner.

“We are looking to give our best shot and win the last match,” Harbhajan said.

Harbhajan, who has taken four wickets and scored 47 runs in the series so far, said he always enjoy playing in the West Indies.

“I have enjoyed every moment playing in the West Indies and this is probably the best place to play cricket. Here in Kingston is an exciting venue and I have played here in previous tours also,” he said.

Following the conclusion of the ODIs, the three-match Test series between the two sides will begin at the Sabina Park here from June 20.

Suresh Raina Best fielding side I have been part of in 5 years

Raina

Fielding has never been Indian cricket’s strong point but stand-in skipper Suresh Raina says the side competing against the West Indies right now is the best fielding unit he has been part of in the past five years.

“In my view, it is the best Indian fielding side I have been part of in the last five years.”

The team’s new fielding coach Trevor Penny said the current side has four-five players who are excellent.

“There are at least four or five boys in the team who are excellent,” remarked Penny, who was recommended to the job by coach Duncan Fletcher.

The cricketers, who have given an edge to India in the field clearly have been Manoj Tiwary, Virat Kohli, Subramaniam Badrinath and skipper Suresh Raina himself.

The Indian practice sessions on the present Caribbean tour are exceptionally sharp and a few catches Rohit Sharma, Raina and Badrinath took in the slips at Sabina Park on Wednesday took the breath away of a smattering of onlookers.

The long flight from Antigua and rather cramped conditions in their present stay in Kingston has done little to dilute the enthusiasm of the young team.

Penny is particularly impressed that despite the long season during which India toured South Africa and played in the World Cup and the IPL without a break, the players are still attacking the ball and are looking to enjoy their fielding stints.

“They have had a long season already but their enthusiasm for fielding is pretty high.”

Penny is looking forward to learning from his association with Fletcher who engaged him as a substitute fielder during the 2005 Ashes in England.

Penny, who played for Warwickshire before retiring, was termed by The Guardian as “one of the best fielders to have graced the county game.”

After his retirement, Penny joined the Sri Lankan team as assistant coach under Tom Moody.

“I worked for three years under Tom and now there is this opportunity with Duncan.”

The association between Penny and Moody extended to IPL franchise Kings XI Punjab where the former worked as a fielding coach for three years.

Penny was serving Queensland Cricket in Australia before the call from BCCI came.

Saina to take on Lan

Saina Nehwal

Saina Nehwal will start her title defence on Wednesday, when she takes on China’s Lan Lu in the first round of the Li Ning Singapore Open Super Series. The world No. 4 Indian would like the match to be a repeat of last week’s Thailand Open first round match. That match saw Saina get the better of L u.

The 21-year-old from Hyderabad is seeded fourth in the event, and might run into former all-England champion, Tine Baun of Denmark, in the quarterfinal.

Meanwhile, young shuttler Arundhati Pantawane qualified for the main draw on Tuesday after two three-game matches tested her stamina and skills. She will play in the main draw of a Super Series event for the first time when she takes on Chinese Taipei’s Tzu Ying Tai on Wednesday.

RMV Gurusai Dutt and Ajay Jayaram perished in the men’s singles qualification round. P Kashyap stares at a first round match against eighth seed Korea’s Park Sung Hwan and if he manages to cross this hurdle, he may face the reigning world champion Chen Jin of China in the second.

West Indies crush India by 103 runs in fourth ODI

3rd ODI_ India vs WI

West Indies bowlers produced a clinical performance after Kieron Pollard and Lendl Simmons laid the foundation with fluent fifties, as they crushed India by 103 runs in the fourth One-day International.

The Indians lead the five-match series 3-1, after taking an unbeatable lead in the series with a three-wicket victory last Saturday at the same venue.

Sent into bat after Suresh Raina won the toss, Pollard top-scored with a typically aggressive 70 off 72 balls while opener Simmons notched up a fluent 67 off 78 deliveries, to lift the hosts to 249 for eight, their highest total of the series, after the Indian bowlers had them in a spot of bother at 89 for four.

In reply, India crumbled in the face of some disciplined work from the host bowlers, especially Anthony Martins and Andre Russell, who shared seven wickets between them to bundle out the visitors for 146 in 39 overs.

The victory not only broke a sequence of three successive defeats but also restored some pride for the hosts. India made three changes to the squad bringing in Ravichandran Aswin, Manoj Tiwary and Ishant Sharma.

Tiwary, playing in place of Shikhar Dhawan, failed to capitalise on the opportunity edging Darren Sammy to Carlton Baugh, but Parthiv Patel picked up a few useful boundaries to set it up for India.

However, after getting his eye in, Patel drove one uppishly for Sammy to complete a fine left-handed catch off his own bowling. So was the case with Virat Kohli (22 off 33 balls), who got out, courtesy a smart piece of work by Baugh off the bowling of leg-spinner Martin.

As far as Subramaniam Badrinath was concerned, he looked out of sorts from the word go and the West Indian bowlers, especially Russell, troubled him with the short stuffs, before the all-rounder had the Chennai batsman caught behind.

Though the top order was the back in the pavilion with not much on the board, there was still hope for India as long as the in-form Rohit Sharma and skipper Suresh Raina were at the crease.

But Martin had other ideas as he lured Raina with a fuller length delivery which the batsman hit straight to Pollard at mid-wicket.

Yusuf Pathan, who has the reputation of throwing away his wicket, lived upto the billing by playing an unnecessary shot against Simmons that could not clear long off. When Sharma top-edged a Martin delivery to give Darren Bravo a simple catch in the circle, it was as good as over for India.

Earlier, Pollard smashed six fours and two sixes in the top score of 70 from 72 balls to spark a West Indies revival, after they stumbled to 103 for five in the 27th over. Simmons supported with 67 from 78 balls, Carlton Baugh Jr made 39, and Andre Russell, the West Indies batting hero from the previous match, added 25.

The new ball pair of Kumar and Ishant Sharma, one of the three changes to India’s line-up for the match, struck early on, leaving the hosts on 12 for two. Sharma had opener Danza Hyatt caught at backward point for one in the second over, and Kumar had Ramnaresh Sarwan caught in the same position for the same score in the fifth over.

The Indians met resistance in the form of a 53-run stand between left-hander Darren Bravo and Simmons before Mishra triggered another mini-crisis, West Indies losing the pair, as well as Marlon Samuels for 38 in the space of 65 deliveries.

The visitors were again put on the back-foot, when Pollard and Baugh added 96 – largely untroubled – for the sixth wicket to move West Indies in the right direction.

But off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin had Pollard caught at long-on in the 45th over – the second over of the Batting Power Play – before Baugh and Russell continued West Indies attacking intent, briskly putting on 41 for the seventh wicket.

Kumar returned for his final spell, and removed Baugh and Russell off successive balls in his final over – the penultimate of the innings – but West Indies would have felt reasonably content with their final total.

India made three changes, bringing Sharma, Ashwin, and left-handed batsman Manoj Tiwary, in to replace Munaf Patel, Harbhajan Singh, and Shikhar Dhawan. West Indies made two changes, swapping Bravo and leg-spinner Anthony Martin for Kirk Edwards and Devendra Bishoo respectively.

Praveen Kumar was the most successful Indian bowler with three for 37 from 10 overs, and leg-spinner Amit Mishra captured two for 56 from 10 overs, as the visitors again kept the West Indies batting in check on another hard, true Vivian Richards Cricket Ground pitch.

The final ODI will be played on Thursday at Sabina Park in the Jamaica capital of Kingston.

England v Sri Lanka, 3rd Test | Anderson confident of Rose Bowl return

James Anderson

James Anderson insists he is feeling “fine” and is confident he will be fit to return to England duty at the Rose Bowl on Thursday. Anderson was due to prove his fitness during Lancashire’s Twenty20 match against Worcestershire at New Road on Sunday but the game was abandoned without a ball bowled due to persistent rain.

“Getting my four overs of action would have helped that bit more, but unfortunately it’s not to be,” Anderson told Sky Sports News. “I’d quite like to get the overs under my belt because a match situation’s very different to bowling in the nets. Unfortunately it’s not going to happen, but I feel fine and hopefully I’ll be fit for Thursday’s Test.”

Anderson bowled 28 overs in the first innings of the first Test against Sri Lanka at Cardiff, removing the experienced trio of Kumar Sangakkara, Mahela Jayawardene and Thilan Samaraweera. He batted as nightwatchman in England’s first innings, but took no part in the England’s dramatic victory on the final day after picking up a Grade 1 side strain, and missed the second Test at Lord’s.

“It was a very minor [strain]. I think it was more precautionary and if I’d carried on bowling in the Cardiff game it could have got a lot worse. Hopefully there’ll be a bit more in the pitch at Southampton. It looked like a tough five days for the lads there. You never know what you’re going to get with the pitch, and they’ve never had a Test before so it’ll be interesting what we get there.

“We didn’t bowl as well as we’d have liked over the last five days, but certainly over the last couple of years we’ve been fantastic with the ball so it’s just about getting back to what’s made us so successful in the last couple of years.”

Anderson replaced Surrey’s Jade Dernbach in England’s squad for the third Test and appears set to resume his role as leader of the bowling attack at the expense of either Steven Finn or Stuart Broad. Both Finn and Broad played alongside Chris Tremlett in the second Test, but with three tall hit-the-deck bowlers the lack of variety in England’s attack was exposed and Tillakaratne Dilshan scored an excellent 193.

“He [Anderson] bowled extremely well at Cardiff and is a fine, top-class bowler,” national selector Geoff Miller told BBC Radio 5 Live. “You always miss quality bowlers. But it is not just about one individual, it’s about a squad of bowlers and people coming into the side for injuries.

“When you start being a successful international side you do have to make these difficult decisions so we’ll wait and see what conditions are like down in Southampton and make the decision accordingly. That is what we are all about: strength in depth.

“Jimmy can pitch it up and swing [the ball],” added Miller. “The others are tall, bouncing bowlers and you are always looking for options because conditions alter and change and sometimes you need that difference. Jimmy is an extremely good exponent of that art.”