Dhoni, Not Youngsters, Lacking Spark

Sreelata S Yellamrazu Updated: 21 October, 2020, 6:48 PM IST

Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s 200th match was expected to be a special affair. But not only was Dhoni’s performance lackadaisical but also, his words thereafter were shocking, to say the least as the IPL 2020 is proving to be unlucky for the Chennai Super Kings.

As much as Dhoni is known to play his cards close to his chest, he can, also, elucidate at length rather simple but profound plans at press conferences. It was not surprising, therefore, that Dhoni went into one of those modes at the end of the match against the Rajasthan Royals. The difference was that this time the defeat took a backseat as the Chennai Super Kings put the onus of the non-selection of youngsters in the tournament to their lack of spark, drawing shock and ire.

It is no hidden secret that the CSK team is one of the oldest teams in terms of the average age of their cricketers. For years, the Chennai team has followed a strategy that emphasized its core, and then additionally, retained much of the remaining squad even as other teams continue to shop at the IPL auctions to find sharper, in form players.

Even before the IPL 2020 got underway in the UAE, it was even rumoured that the sudden departure of Suresh Raina had thrown a spanner in the works as far as Dhoni’s succession plans go. Judging by his performances and his talk, the rumours might not be off the mark because it is the captain who appears jaded and lacklustre.

Dhoni seems to be hampered not only by the loss of prolific batsman, Raina but also, from his deficiency to not put enough faith in the younger members of the squad. Was this complacency in continuing with CSK’s rigid plans over the years?

Even as the three-time champions are staring at the exit door for the first time in their IPL history even before the playoffs, Dhoni blamed the team’s selection muddles on the youngsters on the team, claiming they had not shown enough spark to warrant selection.

Dhoni’s emphasis on process is well documented but it seemed that in his 200th match, the CSK captain appeared to be rambling, talking about how the focus on the process might not affect the team about the outcome of the matches. But the CSK had already lost an emphatic number of matches early on, with the captain himself unwilling to take on additional responsibility in the batting order. To say the team would have been unaffected is unconvincing.

On occasions, both Dhoni and Stephen Fleming, the CSK coach, had lost their cool and it might not be long before the CSK management might look at both their roles as they will have to look at the team composition. The idea that Dhoni would suggest that now the youngsters will be tried seems blasphemous in a format tailor-made for youngsters.

After all, one of the reasons for kick-starting the IPL was with a view that the young India hopefuls could rub shoulders with their illustrious international counterparts. To count them out without even giving them a chance – Dhoni claims not wanting to chop and change when the Chennai team has been in need of a shakeup and a wake-up, one might add – seems like a captain who was caught napping at the wheel and decided to blame the crash on the road divider.

Although still in with a mathematical chance, the skipper appears to have thrown in the towel. Why did the CSK not use the transfer window if the captain felt the backups were no good? A strange admission to come from an otherwise astute captain who led team India well.

Get Daily Updates From CricToday

Subscribe and get the latest Sports News delivered to your inbox.

Ruturaj Gaikwad reacts to MS Dhoni's 'no spark in youngsters' comment during IPL 2020

Vedant Yadav Updated: 24 November, 2020, 4:52 PM IST

Chennai Super Kings (CSK) skipper MS Dhoni had to face the heat from fans and the cricketing fraternity after his 'no spark' comment for the youngsters in the side during the recently-concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) 2020.

Dhoni's comments came after CSK lost their 7th game of the season against Rajasthan Royals (RR). CSK experienced an abysmal campaign in IPL 2020 as they failed to make it to the playoffs for the first time in the tournament's history. The franchise finished at the seventh spot on the points table after managing only 12 points from 14 games.

While the veteran wicketkeeper-batsman disappointed throughout the season, youngsters weren't given many chances, initially. However, towards the backend of the season, young batsman Ruturaj Gaikwad impressed with his willow.

After managing just 5 runs from his first three innings, Ruturaj went on to notch up three back-to-back half-centuries to finish the season with 204 runs from six games and cement his spot in the side as an opener for IPL 2021.

Recently, Gaikwad was questioned about Dhoni's 'no spark' comments for the youngsters in the CSK side. Interestingly, he was dismissed for a duck in the game against RR. However, the youngster said he never read too much into his captain's comment and it never got into his head, as many had speculated.

“I didn’t read much into what MS (Dhoni) had said and I never felt he intended that way. He must have thought of something and said, but people took it the other way."

"What he said didn’t matter to me or didn’t even get to my head. At nets, he would advise me regarding my batting and on top of that, he has always liked my batting," he told the Telegraph.

Gaikwad also revealed that Dhoni has always liked his batting and would keep advising him in the nets to not worry too much about the results and get the process right.

“At nets, MS used to tell me, ‘just make sure your process is right and don’t worry about the results.’ I just followed that,” he added.

Netizens react as Shikhar Dhawan gives a sneak-peek into new 'retro' jersey for Australia series

Vedant Yadav Updated: 24 November, 2020, 4:24 PM IST

Team India has always sported jerseys which have become a huge hit among their ardent fans and followers. Among them, the jersey sported by players during 1992 has a great recall value among fans even in the modern era.

Earlier, it was reported that Team India is set to turn the clock back and go retro against Australia, by wearing a jersey similar to the one sported during the 1992 WC. Ahead of the three-match ODI series Down Under, veteran opener Shikhar Dhawan gave a sneak-peek of the jersey.

Dhawan on Tuesday took to Twitter and posted a photo and captioned it: "New jersey, renewed motivation. Ready to go."

After Dhawan gave a sneak-peek of the jersey, a plethora of Twitter users flooded the micro-blogging site with mixed reactions. Here are some of the reactions:

Earlier, the BCCI had announced Mobile Premier League (MPL) Sports as the team's official apparel sponsor after the deal with Nike ended earlier this year.

MS Dhoni's mentor Deobrat 'Deval' Sahay passes away in Ranchi after prolonged illness

Vedant Yadav Updated: 24 November, 2020, 3:18 PM IST

Deval Sahay, mentor of former Indian skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni, passed away due to multi-organ failure in the early hours of Tuesday in a hospital in the Jharkhand capital. He was 73 and is survived by his wife, a daughter, and a son.

Sahay, who is also credited with preparing the first turf pitches in Ranchi, was admitted to a hospital due to breathing problems and was laid low by a coronavirus. He was discharged from the hospital on October 9.

"After spending about 10 days at home, he was again admitted to a hospital when he developed complications. And today at around 3 a.m. he passed away," Sahay's son Abhinav Akash was quoted as saying by IANS.

Sahay's funeral will take place at around 1 pm in Ranchi. His daughter Meenakshi, who lives in the USA, is in Ranchi these days.

Sahay, an electrical engineer, was instrumental in preparing first turf pitches in Ranchi, first at MECON, where he was the Chief Engineer, and then at Central Coalfields Limited (CCL), from where he retired as Director (Personnel). MS Dhoni's father, Pan Singh Dhoni, also worked at MECON.

While Sahay was at CCL, hired a young Dhoni on stipend and provided him the first opportunity to play on turf pitches. His role has been portrayed by actor Kumud Mishra in Dhoni's biopic, 'M.S. Dhoni: The Untold Story'.

Sachin Tendulkar comes up with a piece of advice for Indian pacers to tackle Steve Smith

Vedant Yadav Updated: 24 November, 2020, 2:39 PM IST

Former Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar has urged the Indian bowlers to target "fifth stump" against Steve Smith as his unconventional batting style will warrant a slightly wider line. He had missed the last India-Australia series Down Under due to a ball-tampering ban and will be eager to make his presence felt.

Smith has always performed against India and has six hundreds and a 92, a statistic that cannot be taken lightly.

"(Steve) Smith's technique is unconventional...Normally, we tell a bowler in Test matches to bowl on and around off-stump or maybe fourth stump line. But for Smith, because he shuffles a lot, maybe that line (of delivery) moves further away by four to five inches," Tendulkar was quoted as saying by PTI.

"One has to aim between (imaginary) fourth and fifth stump for Steve to nick one. It's just a mental adjustment of line, more than anything else," the former captain said.

"Smith, I read, said he's ready for the short-pitched stuff...probably he is expecting bowlers to be aggressive up front with him. But I think he needs to be tested on and around that off-stump channel. Keep him on the back-foot and induce that early mistake," he added.

One being asked whether the in-swinging yorkers won't do the trick against Smith, Tendulkar said that depends on whether the ball swings much or not.

"For that to happen, you have to see how much the ball is swinging. All those things matter. You can't use saliva, so it's a different case if wickets have a lot more life. In England during the Test matches, on occasions, the Dukes wouldn't be swinging much," he replied

"I don't know if they will have greenish wickets for the ball to do a little bit. If the ball doesn't swing. That swinging yorker, you might not even see."

Sachin, while praising India's potent bowling line-up, advised the management to look for a defensive bowler.

"As I have always said, we have one of the best and most balanced bowling attacks India has ever had. Eventually, you have to pick 20 wickets to win Test matches. But 20 wickets shouldn't be too expensive either," he further added.

"...along with our attacking bowlers, we should also identify bowlers who can hold one end up on unresponsive pitches, bowl those continuous maiden overs to build the pressure."

Ravi Shastri backs pacers to overcome Day/Night Test Inexperience

Vedant Yadav Updated: 24 November, 2020, 1:52 PM IST

Team India head coach Ravi Shastri acknowledged his team lack Australia’s Day/Night experience but is convinced their “fabulous five” pacemen can overcome the experienced 'Baggy Greens', on their way towards a second-successive Test series triumph Down Under.

Tim Paine-led side have played seven pink-ball tests, the most by any country, since 2015 and won each of them. Virat Kohli's side, on the other hand, was late to embrace the innovation and played their only Test under the lights, against Bangladesh in Kolkata, last year.

“We begin with pink-ball cricket where we lack experience,” Ravi Shastri told the Sportstar magazine.

“We have played just one pink-ball test, but there is a qualitative difference between them (Bangladesh) and Australia. It is like cheese and chalk. Our boys have not played much of pink-ball in domestic cricket, but I just want them to go and enjoy their game.”

A mouth-watering four-match Test series between the top two teams in the ICC Test Championship standings starts will get underway at the Adelaide Oval, under the lights, from December 17.

India's all-format captain Virat Kohli will return home after the pink-ball Test as he's about to experience parenthood for the first time. He will miss the final three Tests, including the traditional Boxing-Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG).

ALSO READ: "It still annoys and grinds me a bit": Tim Paine on India's Test win Down Under

With Virat set to return, and Rohit Sharma still not cleared to feature in the purest format, Shastri has backed India's “fabulous five” pacemen to get the job down. The former all-rounder also added that the players will play fearless cricket as there's no pressure on the team.

“We have a fabulous five ... You put up runs on the board and watch these fast bowlers hunt the opposition. They can beat Australia in their own backyard,” he explained.

“Ask any international player and he will tell you that it is different. It is challenging. Toughest used to be the West Indies in the ‘80s and post that it has been Australia,” he concluded