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MS Dhoni vs Yuvraj Singh

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Former Indian batting legend Rahul Dravid made some very interesting observations recently about two of India’s old warhorses: Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh.

In an interview, Dravid said that a decision regarding the future of these two stalwarts needs to be taken by the board very soon, and it has to be kept in mind if the team management wants to see them in the 2019 World Cup ahead of some other youngsters. 

 

 

…what they see as the road map for Indian cricket, and where they see the role of both these cricketers going ahead for the next couple of years. Is there a place for both of them? Is there a place for only one of them?

 

While these statements have caused a lot of heartburn to the fans of both Dhoni and Yuvraj, the points Dravid has raised are quite valid. Looking at the recent, inconsistent performances of the two seniors, it would not be very wise to continue playing with both Dhoni and Yuvraj in the same eleven with the World Cup 2019 in mind. The Indian team already has solid bench strength brimming with young blood, and to ignore that talent and persist with both these senior cricketers who are not in their prime might do the team a lot of damage. 

So if a choice was to be made between the two cricketers, who should it be? Perhaps an assessment of the current strengths and weakness of both these players will shed more light on the issue.

 

MS_DhoniMahendra Singh Dhoni

Strengths:

• We often fail to acknowledge Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s primary job, that of a wicket-keeper. With each passing year, Dhoni has improved remarkably behind the stumps and his ability to effect stumpings at lightning speed is rather unbelievable. At present, Dhoni is undoubtedly the best wicket-keeper in the business and looks better than ever.

• While Dhoni is no longer the captain of the Indian team, he adds tremendous value behind the stumps with his experience as a leader. He is constantly chirping advice to the bowlers and the captain and plays a valuable part in setting the field. 

• At 36, most cricketers tend to slow down. But Dhoni looks as sharp and fit as ever, and is clearly working extremely hard on his fitness. He is still one of the fastest runners between the wickets and does not seem to get exhausted. 

• When he does get the time to settle in, Dhoni can still play some match-winning knocks and smack the ball out of the park if it is in his zone.

• Although he is not at his fluent best, Dhoni still does a decent job with the bat most of the time and does not give his wicket away easily. He has scored one hundred and four fifties in his last 12 innings. 

Weaknesses: 

• Dhoni’s inability to finish games has become genuinely worrying. It happened a few times in this year’s IPL and it happened in the 4th ODI against the West Indies recently. While the Dhoni of the past loved taking the game to the last over and finishing it in a flourish, the current Dhoni struggles to produce the big hits in the end overs and is unable to dig those yorkers out. Once considered the greatest finisher in ODI cricket, Dhoni is floundering to live up to that label today.

• The strength behind Dhoni’s shots too is not the same. He often holes out to long-on and long-off these days while going for a big hit and he is also struggling in getting his timing right. 

• Another major issue with Dhoni is the time he takes to settle in. He struggles to rotate the strike initially and eats up a lot of dot balls, which adds pressure on the other batsmen and himself later on.

• Good bowlers are sorting Dhoni out easily these days. From spinners to fast bowlers, Dhoni repeatedly gets out to good balls outside the off-stump and is unable to find a way to tackle them.

 

Yuvraj_SinghYuvraj Singh

Strengths:

 

• The game-changing quality of Yuvraj Singh is very much alive and kicking. Once he gets the opportunity to settle in, as he did against England in January this year in his knock of 150, Yuvraj can go hammer and tongs and rip any attack to smithereens. 

• On some occasions – like that match-winning 53 off 32 balls against Pakistan in the Champions Trophy – Yuvraj also goes berserk from the word go and completely changes the complexion of the game.

• Yuvraj was always known for his big, clean hits. Even today, he has retained much of that quality. His flicks and straight punches for sixes are still alive and are breathtaking to watch even today.

Weaknesses: 

• Once known as the poster boy of Indian cricket’s fitness revolution, Yuvraj Singh is today a pale shadow of his former, fit self. Of course, a fight with a life-threatening disease has played its part here, but Yuvraj these days has become much of a liability as a fielder, giving off a lethargic and sluggish feel whilst on the field.

• Yuvraj has always struggled against spinners and the swinging ball. These weaknesses have now become even more glaring and Yuvraj is struggling to cope with decent spinners and swing bowlers regularly, which eventually leads to his downfall.

• Yuvraj’s spin bowling was an asset to the team a few years back. Unfortunately, the slow left-arm spinner hardly ever bowls these days. Whenever he does, only in extreme situations, he is easily carted around. 

• His big knocks are coming very few and far between; after his 150 against England, Yuvraj has scored only one fifty in 8 innings. 

Conclusion:

While there is no doubt that both Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Yuvraj Singh are true legends of the shorter format and have served Indian cricket exceptionally well over the past decade and more, the harsh truth is that only one of them can realistically continue playing in the team till the next World Cup. It is too risky to have them both in the eleven at the expense of a talented youngster.

Both have great experience and both are match-winners on their day. However, from this analysis, it appears that Dhoni has the edge over Yuvraj purely because he still serves the team as a valuable all-rounder while the latter has become one-dimensional: a batsman with inconsistent form. While Dhoni is certainly not at his best with the bat, he is doing a decent enough job most of the times. Moreover, his value behind the wickets is paramount and something Indian cricket needs desperately at present. 

 

So if India has to take a call (as they should) on Dhoni and Yuvraj’s future and decide that only one of the two can play in the eleven, the former has the edge as he is simply more effective in more ways than the latter. 

 

Remember that both are great players in their own right and have brought the country countless laurels. But time and form is catching up with them and unfortunately only one will suit the team’s interests in the near future. The earlier Indian cricket discerns this, the better for them.

 

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