‘Dhoni can’t rely on luck’
(left to right) Dhoni, R Ashwin and Suresh Raina.Former Australian test cricketer, Tom Moody, currently coaching Sri Lanka for the World Cup, is not impressed with the way the Men in Blue have performed in the tournament. There have been times when Indians have been extremely lucky. “M S Dhoni must realise that luck alone will not help his side win the Cup,” he warned ESPN Star Sports commentator Alan Wilkins on the sidelines of a match at the Premadasa Stadium in Colombo. Excerpts. Q. So Team India’s weakest link is bowling?A. India’s bowling has let them down very badly and they have to work out a formula and stick to it. It has not happened so far in the tournament. Each bowler has to know his role. Once each bowler knows his full responsibility and when he is going to bowl, he will get the best out of the overs allotted. It needs to happen fast.Q. Indians have got great starts while batting but don’t seem to be able to follow up. Why?A. It’s strange. India have been in such dominant positions but they folded dramatically, especially against England, when they should have scored another 30 runs at least. They faltered against South Africa too, when they should have had another 50 runs on the board. They have to value each run scored. Indians threw away priceless runs in crucial matches, especially when they had the opposition bowlers at their mercy.Q. How would you bowl the death over?advertisementA. Dhoni, not me, has to think about his “death bowlers.” Did Ashish Nehra, for instance, know that he was going to be called upon to bowl the final over against South Africa? The Indian skipper has to have a mental checklist of the death bowlers who will do the job for him. And no one should regret that decision.Q. What about India’s poor fielding and lack of fitness?A. It is too late for India to improve their individual athleticism and skills through conditioning, but they have liabilities in the field which are costing runs. It is critical, therefore, for Dhoni to have fielders in positions where they can do the best job. Doing skill exercises in the middle of the tournament won’t help India’s fielders. Knowing what each player is capable of in the field is crucial.Q. So what is the Indian team’s primary strength?A. India’s top order batting is as good as any top order in the World Cup and all the batsmen are in form-Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Virat Kholi and Yuvraj Singh. They are the apparatus through which India can impose their superiority in this tournament. India’s top order has to continue to get big scores because India’s bowling is their weakness, and their fielding is also likely to cost too many runs. So the responsibility is on India’s batsmen to bat India into match-winning totals. The collapse against South Africa was inexcusable.Q. So will Dhoni have to do things differently?A. Yes, in a way he has to work out strategies in bowling and fielding that will complement India’s batting. He has to make it clear to every member of the team what his job responsibility is in the side. India’s approach to matches from here on has to be more formulaic. It must not be left to chance.