The Karate Kick: Dhoni Keeps It In­ter­est­ing

His wicket-keep­ing of­ten doesn’t get the credit MS Dhoni’s cap­taincy is rou­tinely given. But his crick­et­ing nous is al­ways on

The Economic Times - - Sports: The Great Games - Sau­rabh So­mani

They say ge­nius lies not in sim­ply be­ing able to ex­e­cute the com­plex but in imag­in­ing the sim­ple path no one else had dis­cov­ered. Wit­ness Steve Jobs’s rev­o­lu­tion­ary so­lu­tion to zoom­ing in and out of im­ages. In­tu­itively you would want to be able to ex­pand or con­tract views with your fin­gers, but un­til Jobs did it first, you didn’t re­alise just how in­tu­itive and sim­ple it was to ex­pand and con­tract im­ages by mim­ick­ing the mo­tion with your fin­gers in­stead of tap­ping away at a but­ton.

It doesn’t quite match up to multi-touch tech­nol­ogy yet, but MS Dhoni mak­ing use of the fact that wick­et­keep­ers need not nec­es­sar­ily use their hands only to stop the ball had an el­e­ment of the sim­plic­ity of ge­nius. Wick­et­keep­ers wear­ing gloves, and do­ing all the heavy lift­ing with their hands un­like out­field­ers, made it easy to be blind to this fact. For those who came in late and are un­aware of the karate kick move Dhoni has un­furled dur­ing this edi­tion of the In­dian Premier League, he has been reg­u­larly stick­ing his right leg out as soon as he sees the bats­man trans­fer weight on the back foot and shape to play a late cut. On the two oc­ca­sions that have been cap­tured for pos­ter­ity and re­played, Dhoni man­aged to stop the ball, once f rom Manan Vohra agai nst Ki ngs XI Pun­jab and once from Vi­rat Kohli against Royal Chal­lengers Ban­ga­lore. But if you ob­serve Dhoni, he has been stick­ing his leg out on other oc­ca­sions too — ex­cept that the bats­man has not played the ball be­hind the wicket, so the TV cam­eras haven’t lin­gered on the wick­et­keeper.

Dhoni judges his bowler’s length, ob­serves the bats­man’s move­ment and makes his de­ci­sion — all in a split-sec­ond. You could ar­gue that this method means Dhoni will be putting him­self at a dis­ad­van­tage if the bats­man’s shot doesn’t come off as in­tended and re­sults in a pos­si­ble catch. With one leg in the air, sta­bil­ity is lost and Dhoni may not be able to re­act as quickly. I sus­pect though, that he has thought this through, and with crick­et­ing judge­ment on the field, Dhoni has few equals. Then too, there is the for­mat to con­sider. In Twenty20 cricket, a dot-ball is some­times worth as much, or more, than a wicket got at the cost of a cou­ple of ex­tra runs.

It needed the sort of out-of-box think­ing that Dhoni has ex­hib­ited at in­ter­vals on the field and which en­sures watch­ing him can still set pulses racing, even in the twi­light of his ca­reer.

Though of course, whether it is in fact the twi­light or not is the great de­bate. It’s prob­a­bly a good thing Dhoni thought of the karate-kick save af­ter the World T20. Else, who is to say he might not have called a jour­nal­ist up to sit be­side him,

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