The most used computer in recent times, according to Anand Vasu reporting
out of Colombo, is the one between MS Dhoni’s ears, and it seems to be
telling him that triangulars like the one in Sri Lanka where India opens today, where each team gets only one crack at every other team, is tougher than a bilateral series. His rationale:
'In a bilateral series, as the series proceeds, you get
to know more things about a particular player or how he is performing
at that time. Subconsciously you plan for his strengths and
weaknesses,' explained Dhoni.
'In a three-team competition, specially one like this where you play
each team just once, you have to be fully prepared right from the word
'You don't get time to adjust. Batsmen and bowlers have become
smarter. You can come up with a plan for a player but on the day he may
change the way he plays and still succeed. Countering that is really
tough. If Plan A is not working you have to be ready with Plan B.'
On balance, you suspect India might have preferred to play the
stronger Sri Lankan team first. You get to test your sea legs against
the toughest competition in the tournament, and even if you lose you
still have a game against a relatively weaker side to nail your finals
spot. This way, India needs to hit the ground running, because a loss
today to the Kiwis puts it in do or die mode against the hosts.
Harsha had some thoughts on the lineup, that he shared during our recent chat:
Let's look at it this way: who is going to open the
batting for you? Gautam Gambhir and Sachin Tendulkar? Gambhir can play
in two forms, but he is coming off a bad patch just now. Tendulkar is
no longer the guy who can hit over the top first ball. And then there
is Dravid at three. Who is going to give you a move on?
I honestly am not sure if Rahul should bat at three or five '" he has
played some of his best one day cricket at five, in 2003-04-05 when he
was our best one day player, he was finishing matches with Yuvraj and
company, and he took that form into the T20s as well recently where
again he batted five.
I would not mind seeing Raina at three because you want to see if
Raina has it in him to play at three on all surfaces. You can't have a
situation where our blue eyed boys are very good at batting up the
order on flat tracks and have no qualms about going down the order when
the going gets tough, and saying Rahul bhai ko aane do na upar.
So send Raina at three, Yuvraj at four, Rahul five, Dhoni six. And
where does that leave Dinesh Karthik? Every time you pick him he
scores, so what do you do with him?
Should be fun — mild fun — to see how they line up, and how they
do in the season opener. It’s Friday, I have newspaper production, so
watching will be off and on. As will blogging.