Leading from behind
The Bhuvneshwar Kumar/MS Dhoni vs Kevin Pietersen/Ian Bell contest is the closest, perhaps, that cricket has come to doubles in any racket sport. In the last two ODIs at Kochi and Ranchi, the pacer-’keeper combination has outsmarted the batsmen and this has played a big role in the series scoreline reading 2-1 in India’s favour. As always, the duration of time spent by Pietersen and Bell at the crease has decided the longevity of England’s batting effort.
It’s after the 10th over that Dhoni initiates this duel. By now the ball has lost some of its shine and Bhuvneshwar has got a grip of the pitch, conditions and the extent of his swing. This is when Dhoni takes position close to the stumps, not a conventional tactic for a bowler whose deliveries measure around 130kph.
This has forced Pietersen and Bell out of their comfort zone. The old ploy of standing outside the crease to negate late movement is suddenly a high-risk proposition, with a play and miss almost sure to result in a stumping.
With the batsmen forced back into the crease, Bhuvneshwar has found full value for his late swing. At Kochi,
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