Yorkers on demand, but Dhoni needs a stool to fly the copter

Sports Saturday 13/February/2016 16:43 PM
By: Times News Service
Yorkers on demand, but Dhoni needs a stool to fly the copter

Ravichandran Ashwin opening the bowling in a match India must win to stay alive in the series. Hardik Pandya strolling out into the middle ahead of Yuvraj Singh and MS Dhoni with just 33 balls remaining in the innings at a stage of the game where India needed to gain back the momentum lost in the mid-overs. Jasprit Bumrah walking up to the top of his run-up for the first time in the innings, in the 15th over, and Pandya running in to bowl the 19th over.
What do we call all this, singularly or collectively? Experimenting, perhaps. But don’t ever say that word — experimenting — within the earshot of Dhoni.
Experimenting, we got to know from Dhoni at the presentation ceremony of the second T20 played at Ranchi on Friday, is a word banned from Indian cricket. If you are desperate for a word or a phrase to capture the current mood in the Indian camp, you better say that with a phrase as straight and simple as ‘doing things differently’.
The moral of the Ranchi story is that experimenting is not about doing things differently, and doing things differently is not about experimenting, but whatever it is, the experience a normal Indian cricket fan had when the game was on was pure and uncomplicated, which, incidentally, was the mood the
Indian skipper was in throughout the proceedings right after Shikhar Dhawan set the tone of the night.
Of all the different things on display, what took the cake was Bumrah’s yorkers-on-demand show. The setup for the youngster was perfect. Sri Lanka were five down with just 102 on the board — a long, almost impossible way from the imposing target of 197. Scoring 95 runs from 30 balls would have been a daunting task even for a Kumar Sangakkara-Mahela Jayawardene combo, with Angelo Mathews waiting for his turn in the dugout. For lesser mortals like Mirinda Siriwardana and Dasun Shanaka the task — 19 runs an over for five overs in a row — seemed taller than Everest.
Bumrah was reluctant to bowl yorkers in the Pune match, but at Ranchi he made amends for his sins, and the intent was evident right from the first delivery. He began with one that was described by Matthew Hayden as absolutely perfect, and four more followed in his first two overs, all of which were a mysterious beauty to behold as the batsmen woefully tried to dig and defend or save their toes. Yorkers, carefully concealed amid an unpredictable rain of deliveries ranging from slow balls to sharp bouncers and low, wide full tosses outside off stump, didn’t allow the batsmen even to stand up and stare back.
While it was an opportunity delightfully taken up by youngsters like Pandya and Bumrah, it was another instance of why and how Dhoni fails to hit the big shots. The stage was set for the skipper to smash a couple of sixes which would have taken India to and past the 200-mark — a target within reach after Rohit Sharma and Dhawan plundered 70 runs in the first six overs, and Suresh Raina and Pandya harvested 59 from 4.1 overs to post 186 for 4 at 18.4 overs.
Dhoni tried but failed. A mighty heave at the third ball in the final over sums up the harsh reality. His bat was nowhere near the ball pitched wide outside off stump and hurried into the hands of the keeper.
Helicopters don’t take off from a submarine staying underwater. Helicopters don’t take wing unless the weather is fine. Bowlers are not offering Dhoni the right conditions to set the flight in motion, so Dhoni says the only way to hit a helicopter shot nowadays is by standing on a stool.
In the unlikely event of Dhoni walking out to bat at Visakhapatnam today with a stool in hand, don’t ask what it is: doing things differently or experimenting?
(The writer is a freelance contributor based in India. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman)