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Articles - Stories from Numbers Monday, 09 January 2012 13:29
Contributed by Sumit Garg    (2050 views)


I remembered Dhoni raising his bat after scoring a hundred at Faisalabad against Pakistan in 2006. That was almost five years ago – the first and the last time he scored a Test hundred overseas.
“Tigers at home and lambs abroad,” is a stinging criticism Indian cricket has faced for a long time now. It’s a criticism that one heard yet again after Team India crashed to its fifth consecutive Test overseas defeat.
 
And if one were to zero in on individuals in the batting line-up, skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s home-away mismatch is most galling. In fact, the captain will be the first to admit that his overseas track record and especially outside of the subcontinent is an embarrassment for someone with proven destructive abilities in the abridged version of the game.
 
The serious mismatch of Dhoni’s home-away track record
 
           T Runs         Avg     100s 50s Highest
Home 30 1634        43.00       4          11  144
Away         35 1802        34.00       1          12  148
Overall 65 3436        37.75       5          23  148
 
 
The difference in averages at home and away highlights the main point in contention. Furthermore, the only overseas hundred of his 65-Test career came in the subcontinent. He may have scored 12 fifties, but such performances have been few and far in between.
 
We take one look at his numbers in countries where the degree of difficulty in scoring runs is more challenging, that record takes further beating. 
 
 
Dhoni’s record in England, Australia and South Africa
                 T Runs         Avg      100s 50s Highest
Australia         5   170       17.00         0    0   38
England          7   429       39.00         0   4   92
South Africa 5   283       31.44         0   1   90
 
 
The record in Australia and South Africa does not do justice to his ability. The average in Australia, in particular, is very poor. In England, Dhoni has had his moments but the below par show in 2011 has dented those numbers. Like Virender Sehwag, Dhoni has defied the skeptics and showed that he can survive with his own style. However, the performances away from home (England, South Africa and Australia in particular) leave a lot to be answered.
 
In the modern game, wicket-keepers cannot hope to survive at the top for long with a single skill. They are expected to bring value with the bat. Like Dhoni, many international ‘keepers bat at No 7 seven as it helps provide the right balance to a team.
 
 
The No 7 slot – comparative figures
 
We must look at Dhoni’s record at number seven and where he stands amongst other players (includes all-rounders). This list is arranged according to the averages. (Qualification: 50 or more Test matches)
 
                              T*  Runs  Avg      100s 50s Highest
Adam Gilchrist             82           3948 46.44 12 18     204*
Alan Knott                     61           2870 41.00 5 20  135
Imran Khan             51           1845 34.81 2 11  123
Jeff Dujon                     55           2113 33.53 4 10  139
MS Dhoni                     55           2217 31.22 2 15  110
 
*Only includes innings where they batted at No 7
 
 
The likes of Adam Gilchrist and Alan Knott have shown that it is possible to score consistently down the order. In fact, Imran Khan’s record is fantastic considering the fact that he was a genuine all-rounder who also captained the side. 
 
If we look at the records of wicket-keepers at No7 batting away from home, then the records of Knott and Gilchrist gets even better. Dhoni’s record, in comparison, drops further.
 
Here is the list according to averages. (Qualification: 20 or more Test matches)
 
Batting records of wicket-keepers at number seven away from home
 
                          T            Runs    Avg         100s     50s Highest
Alan Knott                32        1731    48.08       2        14   106*
Adam Gilchrist        29        1502    46.93       6         4   204*
Jeff Dujon                29        1070    30.57       1       6   139
MS Dhoni                32        1307    29.04       0         9   92
Ridley Jacobs        33        1126    28.15       0       8   96*
 
Dhoni is no ordinary player as he has shown on a number of occasions. An overseas average of 29.04 at No 7 is clearly unacceptable for someone blessed with his kind of batting talents.
 
The biggest factor in Dhoni’s struggle abroad has been his change in approach. Off late he looks a lot more conservative at the crease which isn’t his natural game. He needs the right mixture of caution and aggression instead of drifting towards a fully conservative approach. The two knocks in England earlier this year support this observation. Dhoni counter-attacked the bowling and played an aggressive game which got him the runs. In other outings on that tour, he was tentative and defensive - a tactic that backfired.
 
In the second innings at Melbourne on Thursday, he walked down the track and hit a six early on. One felt that he was ready to unleash his unique repertoire of strokes, but once Sachin Tendulkar was dismissed, he yet again got into the rut.
 
Dhoni seriously needs to do some rethinking about his approach. He has the calmness of mind to approach the problem he is facing with a clutter-free mind. If Dhoni can translate his success at home in matches overseas, India’s lower order can acquire a dangerous dimension. And despite the poor overseas record, there are compelling reasons to believe that he can do it.
 

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Last Updated on Monday, 09 January 2012 15:40
 
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