Sunday, September 19, 2010


MS Dhoni's choice of bowler for the Super Over during yesterday's tied tie against Victoria was a surprising one. Usually, a captain gives the ball to a bowler who has had a good day. That would have been Murali, given that both Bollinger and Ashwin had had a mixed day.

However, to my mind, the best option would still have been Bollinger. Here is a bit of trivia before I proceed further:

- Cricinfo archives show that there have been 12 recorded cases of Super Overs in Twenty20 matches, including yesterday's.
- Of these 12, I managed to find out who were the bowlers and the scores involved in 11 of them.
- The 1 match that I did not manage to find anything about was the Northern Districts v. Canterbury match at Seddon Park, Hamilton on 18th February 2009.
- On a completely irrelevant note, that day (i.e. 18th February 2009) saw 2 other cases of Super Overs in South Africa - Dolphins v Cape Cobras at Kingsmead, Durban and Eagles v Warriors at St. George's Park, Port Elizabeth.
- Of the 22 Super Overs (11 X 2) I have on record, only 7 have been bowled by slow bowlers.
- Of these 7, only 2 have been won by slow bowlers. Incidentally, both these wins came when the opposition also used a slow bowler for their Super Over.
- So in the 3 cases where Super Over was a slow bowler v medium / pace bowler affair, the slower bowlers have always failed to deliver.

Now, I do not expect MS Dhoni to know these facts. But I would have expected him to learn from his mistakes. Just this year at the IPL, he had faced a Super Over situation where he chose Muttiah Muralitharan to bowl against Kings XI Punjab to defend his team's score of 9 for 2 (which were scored against Juan Theron - a medium pacer). Muralitharan managed 10 for 1 in less than 1 over as CSK lost that match and crucial points.

In the only other case of pace v spin, Ajantha Mendis had fared badly as Yusuf Pathan demolished him during IPL 2009's Rajasthan Royals v Kolkata Knight Riders match. Kamran Khan, the unheralded young Royals pacer had gone for 16 in his over as Mendis conceded 18 in his first 4 balls itself. And I expect Dhoni knew about this match.

Added to this were factors like constant drizzle and the grip on the ball during the Super Over yesterday. So Dhoni's decision to use Ashwin was pretty much a wrong one to me even before he started bowling and conceded those 20-odd runs. The match was effectively sealed then and the points secured for Victoria.


Soulberry said...

The difference beween a testing ground and ensuring a win first is blurred.

In a way I understand Dhoni - he encourages, as he believes, that chaps must learn and grow along as they play, in full pressure situations. He is that kind of romantic. Does't always work that way though. If it had come off, it might have been brilliant and that's where Dhoni's problem might lie - to formulate the correct mix of reality and encouragement of his players all the time.

Sometimes you just need to win to survive and leave the learning/encouraging for another day.

Unknown said...

Couldn't have put it better myself, SB!

Unknown said...

Here's one teaser for you, Soulberry: Which one do you think was a riskier decision - Ashwin's Super Over or Joginder Sharma's final over at World Twenty20 in 2007?

Try to discount the fact that the latter match was a big final against Pakistan. Just in terms of a regular cricket match decision, which one do you think was riskier?

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