Dhoni could miss Lord's Test if slow over-rate continues
Following Team India's failure in maintaining the required over-rate in the second Test in Bridgetown, Barbados, a one Test ban looms large over skipper MS Dhoni.
It is now up to Team India to save their captain if they want to pre-empt a ban on their skipper in the Lord's Test against England, beginning July 21. Dhoni must ensure that the team does not turn up slow on the over-rate in the third Test against the West Indies, for it would incur an immediate ban of one Test match on him.
Dhoni has already twice been guilty of breaching ICC Code of Conduct, rule 2.5, which states that a captain who is pulled up for three offences of slow over-rates in a 12-month period, will suffer an automatic ban in the next match of the same format.
Image: Mahendra Singh Dhoni
'Ishant sometimes stretches his over to seven minutes'
Dhoni and his men were deemed to have bowled three overs short during the recently-concluded Barbados Test, which was the second such offence in 2011, following a similar breach of rules in the Cape Town Test against South Africa earlier this year.
The onus is now on India's three premier bowlers to avert such a fate befalling their skipper.
Ishant Sharma is fantastic form with a 10-wicket haul in the drawn Barbados Test but he takes unusually long time to finish up his overs.
"Ishant takes a long time to return to his bowling crease and it sometimes stretches his over to seven minutes," said an insider from the Barbados Test.
Image: Ishant Sharma
'Not easy for a genuine fast bowler to finish his overs in time'
The case with Praveen Kumar is a little different.
Praveen does return to his bowling mark briskly but he has the habit of standing and looking at the batsman, after a delivery has passed the bat and gone to the wicketkeeper.
Even Harbhajan Singh, though a spinner, is not much of a help in making up for slow overs.
"If he bowls 20 overs in a day, you would still find that the over-rate hasn't improved by much."
To be fair to Harbhajan, he got to bowl only 14 and 19 overs from the two innings in the Barbados Test.
In contrast, Ishant and Praveen bowled the bulk of the overs -- 42 for the former, 39 for the latter -- which makes it 81 overs bowled from the 145 overs in two West Indies' innings.
"Bowlers like Glenn McGrath, if you remember, used to wear a watch on their wrist while bowling," said the source.
"To be fair, it is not easy for a genuine fast bowler to finish his overs in time. Teams which have had Brett Lee and Shoaib Akhtar usually struggle to keep up with the over-rates."
Image: Praveen Kumar
Dhoni made Raina bowl to speed over-rate
In the Barbados Test, Dhoni knew all along that he was behind the required rate in a stipulated time but even he was guilty of not rushing up the matter.
Dhoni, being an innovative captain, keeps shuffling his fielders constantly and it doesn't help in finishing the overs in time.
He did try getting Suresh Raina to bowl his off-spinners on the last afternoon in a bid to speed up the rate but it only marginally helped the matter.
Image: Suresh Raina