Saturday, 29 September, 2007

'Aussie Way' Vs the 'Mahi Way'

Australia takes on India in the first ODI match at Bangalore in couple of hours from now. And the Australian skipper has begun their so-called ‘fine art of mental disintegration’.

No surprises there. You will rarely find an Australian skipper in Mark Taylor’s mould, let alone in a Kim Hughes one. Australians play their own brand of cricket and pre series blabber is an essential part of it. Whether it really leads to ‘mental disintegration’ is another topic of debate. I believe it only spices up the proceedings a bit. But tell me, how many teams have guts to make public, their intention of making a ‘clean sweep’ of almost every other series?

Ricky Ponting would be aware of it as much as anyone else. With two world cups and a Champions Trophy under his belt in last five years, Ponting has had a smooth sailing thus far. And when the going got tough – like it did in the Ashes 2004 as also during Australia’s straight loss to England in the triangular series just before the world cup – he fought back with vengeance. With Dhoni’s team denying him Cricket’s Grand Slam in Johannesburg – Test Championship, Fifty50 WC, Champions Trophy and Twenty20 WC – trust Ponting to strike hard at the Indians in their own background.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni on the other hand is a rookie, and for a change, hugely successful too. To call Dhoni’s journey a ‘dream’ would be gross understatement. How many captains have laid their hand on a world cup in their very first assignment? You can look beyond cricket, yet won’t find any parallel. (In cricket, Kapil Dev probably comes closest with a world cup win in only his fourth month of captaincy).

What stands out for Dhoni is his temperament, whether as a batsman or a leader. He has played many innings, both match winning and match saving, in tests and the ODIs, which went against his natural instinct. More importantly, in his short reign he has shown to be ‘different’, without being really stupid.

As Saurav Ganguly has said of Dhoni, beneath the cool demeanor lies an extremely aggressive man, who trusts his instincts. How many captains would have the guts to toss the ball to a young bowler in a world cup semifinal and final and say, ‘Look, doesn’t matter whether we win or lose, give it your best shot.’ Not many, I guess.

For me, this one day series is a battle of two captains, one who plays cricket the tough ‘Aussie Way’, and the other whose style is yet to evolve, but which will, most certainly be called ‘The Mahi Way’, few years down the line.

Bring it on, Aussies!

On a different note, my ‘bitter’ half (pun intended) has a theory on why India succeeded in the recent Twenty20 world cup. She believes Indians are brilliant only in phases and lack consistency to be successful over a period of time. Twenty20 format allows them that luxury. It also explains our mediocre performamce in tests and only moderate success in the Fifty50s.

Time for Dhoni and co to prove her wrong.


Soulberry said...

I'm not sure she is entirely incorrect, CG. That problem afflicts all teams bar Australia.

Mahi Way will take time to evolve. We may see it blossoming only after the past season's blooms drop off. I just hope they do not take so long to do that that Mahi's Way no longer has the spring of youthfulness to energize a new era of Indian cricket.

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