Abu Dhabi: Nearly four decades since Johan Cruyff's Dutch national team thrilled the world with their brand of 'Total Football', the Indian cricket team seems to be embarking on a similar route in their bid to dominate the cricket world, at least in the shorter version.
Jack Reynolds is credited with having initiated the style in Ajax Amsterdam much before the '70s. Rinus Michels, who played for Ajax under Reynolds, went on to become coach and along with Ernest Happel, ensured that Holland pursued Total Football.
Similar to the concept of Total Football, in which there is no fixed position for a player and he can be an attacker, midfielder or defender, the Indian cricket team seems to be currently implementing the method with the World Cup in mind.
Australian coach Greg Chappell, through his skipper Rahul Dravid, seems to be emphasising on this aspect for the one-dayers. Since he took over less than a year ago, most of the top order batsmen, along with the lionhearted Irfan Pathan, have been made to play in different positions.
"We would like to try everyone in different batting positions and in different situations. The idea is to ensure that when a certain situation arises, we have the options to choose from to handle that situation," said Dravid.
Virender Sehwag is perhaps the only player who has not been shuffled from his opener's slot but Dravid indicated that may happen soon. "There is a strong possibility that we may send Sehwag lower in the order so that he learns how to handle those situations. It will definitely make him a better player," he said after Wednesday's win over Pakistan in the DLF Cup.
Even with the bowlers, particularly the pacemen, there is no fixed spot in the order they may be brought into the attack. All members of the young Indian pace battery are being tried out at different positions and the new mantra of 'perform or perish' seems to be working well.
The Indians have been on a roll since Chappell and Dravid joined hands to produce some fantastic results in the one-dayers. It will be an equally tall order to keep up the good work in the months to come.
Dhoni climbs to top spot in ICC rankings
Mahendra Singh Dhoni's half century against Pakistan in the second one-dayer against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi propelled him to the top spot in the latest ICC one-day International rankings.
Dhoni, who was placed second behind Australian captain Ricky Ponting before the two-match ODI series in the desert venue, hit 59 in India's series-levelling win in the second match.
However, the 1-1 honour in the series meant that India and Pakistan remain unchanged in the team championship table, on third and fourth places, respectively.
The 24-year-old Jharkhand player, who made his ODI debut in December 2004, has made a remarkably rapid rise with his statistics providing compelling support for his position on top of the ODI charts released yesterday.
In 42 matches, he averages 52.76 with two hundreds and eight fifties and, equally significantly, he has made those runs at an awesome strike-a rate of 103 runs per 100 balls.