India's wasteful exploits with DRS in the absence of MS Dhoni
In England’s second innings in the Oval Test, the ever impulsive Virat Kohli had exhausted his team’s review options inside 12 overs. This brings us to the debate whether Kohli is missing Dhoni behind the wickets in Test matches, if not for anything, on his timely advice on when to make use of the Decision Review System (DRS).
Team India’ record with the DRS in the current England series
In the current England series, aside of Umpire’s call, India had used the DRS on 12 occasions while on the field bowling. Out of the 12 occasions that they had challenged the umpire’s decision, only once against Adil Rashid in the first Test, were they precise as their review was upheld. On all the remaining 11 occasions, their reviews were struck down.
The only other time India came close to succeed in DRS was against Joe Root in the first innings of the fourth Test. On that occasion, Kohli’s celebration was short-lived as he found out to his dismay that Bumrah had once again overstepped. Besides, some close umpire’s calls too went against India though they didn’t lose any review on those counts.
How is Dhoni different?
Dhoni, on most of the occasions, has been spot on with his advice to Kohli on DRS. He was so successful with DRS in the past that the system has been jokingly re-named as Dhoni Review System. His experience and awareness of the situation have been exemplary. Dhoni was initially reluctant to embrace the technology. But once he got convinced, he has mastered the use of the system.
The problem that Kohli has been facing in the absence of Dhoni is that none of the other players are so forthcoming to facilitate him to take a decision. Even a better-experienced keeper such as Wriddhiman Saha has been non-committal most of the times in the past.
Saha has been a fabulous keeper for India but probably has not been able to assert his authority when Virat was needed to take a final call. That has left Kohli with only himself and the bowler to arrive at a decision within 15 seconds. Most of the bowlers, if not all, have always been confident and would insist their Captains to have a look at the replays.
In the present series, India lost most of the reviews either because the impact was outside or the length of the ball was taking the trajectory above the stumps. While most of the wicket-keepers from behind the wickets were uncertain about the impact, Dhoni, on most of the incidents, was quite sure about where the ball had landed and the consequent impact and the expected amount of bounce. The likes of Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant have not been so accurate in this scenario
Besides, Dhoni is one senior cricketer who can impress upon Kohli not to go for the review when the chances are slim. Dhoni is pretty much aware that normally an umpire’s call is very rarely reversed in case of leg before referrals even if any part of the ball is shown to slightly scrape the bails in Ball Tracker System.
Dhoni is also aware that just because his team won’t lose a review on umpire’s call, he should not take a chance with unconvincing cases which would eventually result in his team losing a review. Dhoni would advocate Kohli only when he is absolutely sure of the outcome.
Kohli is always impulsive with his DRS calls, while Dhoni is patient enough to weigh the pros and cons inside those 15 seconds. An experienced keeper like Dhoni’s conviction makes it that easier for Virat to take the right decision. When unsure, Dhoni always tries to keep Kohli under check.
Another advantage with Dhoni is that as a wicket-keeper he is in the best position to cover the angle and the length of the ball. With his clarity of thought, Dhoni normally makes up his mind whether to go or not before listening to the opinion of the bowlers. Even some of his calls on catches have been proved successful.
Kohli always acts on instincts and from time to time he uses the DRS against the wrong batsman. In England’s second innings in the Oval Test, he used up the first review against the out-of-form England batsman Keaton Jennings. Jennings couldn’t put the bat on ball the entire series and looked like getting out any time. He was a walking wicket. Hence, wasting a review on him was unwarranted especially after the on-field umpire had given him not out. As expected, Jennings didn’t last long.
Apart from his DRS skills, Dhoni could have contributed with the bat in the lower-order where he scored four half-centuries in the last England series. In the absence of Dhoni in Test matches, Dinesh Karthik and Rishabh Pant combined together ended up conceding a record number of 100 byes in the series. The count is still on.
But in one facet of the game where Team India missed Dhoni the most was his ability to single out the decisions which merit referring to DRS. Thankfully for India, Dhoni will be back for the white ball cricket and Virat would welcome him with open arms.