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Sunil Gavaskar - Master's words

MS Dhoni's leadership was once again outstanding at Kanpur, writes Gavaskar.

Friday, November 21, 2021
Dhoni's captaincy was exceptional

England wasted a golden opportunity at Kanpur to post a bigger, and more challenging total on the board. It was disappointing to see a number of their batsman throw their wickets away after getting starts, and not going on to get bigger scores. It's paramount that a top order batsman capitalizes on his start in a one-day game, and goes on to get a 100, to lay the foundation for a big total which the opposition will struggle to chase.

Ravi Bopara looked good coming in as an opener, but should have gone on to get a big one on this wicket. Kevin Pietersen, who is England's best player, needlessly threw his wicket away when the team required his presence till the end, and Paul Collingwood, who looks woefully out of form, gifted his wicket to the Indian bowlers. It's surprising that Collingwood still bats ahead of Flintoff, inspite of looking completely off colour in the three matches so far. The best players must have the opportunity to bat for a bulk of the allotted 50 overs, and it's critical that England send Flintoff up the order where his talent can be put to better use.

Mahendra Singh Dhoni used his bowlers exceptionally well, as he brought on the spinners pretty much after the shine had disappeared from the new ball. He even threw to ball to his part-time spinners Sehwag and Yuvraj, who made perfect use of the spin friendly conditions.

Harbhajan Singh found perfect bowling rhythm in this game, and it was good to see him bowl a lot slower in this game to ensure maximum purchase off the wicket. Harbhajan bowled much flatter in the game at Indore, keeping his pace at around 100 km/h, and got hit for three huge sixes by Flintoff. In this game he kept his pace around the mid 80's and got a lot more turn, causing problems for the English batsman.

India will be happy with their effort in the field, but must be careful about the no-balls which were in abundance today. With the new free hit rule in one-day cricket, its critical that teams cut out on their no balls, as it could cost them dearly in a tight game.

For a team that had piled on 387 and 290 odd in the previous games, a target of 240 would not be that difficult to achieve, and the Indians got some early momentum at the start of their run chase. With the light fading at Kanpur and the D/L method coming into play, a good start was absolutely vital, and Sehwag played some perfect strokes at the top of the order. It was disappointing to see Gambhir get out without a big score again today, but Sehwag' innings would have calmed the dressing room considerably.

It's strange that the in-form Yuvraj is still coming in down the order after Raina and Rohit Sharma. He should definitely come in earlier so that he has more overs to bat, and dominates the bowling.

Dhoni started cautiously, but always knew he had another power play up his sleeve and ensured that he was ahead of the Duckworth Lewis par score, to seal a comfortable win for India. They are playing some outstanding cricket at the moment and will look to seal the series at the day night game in Bangalore.