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Kevin Pietersen’s unquestionable batting talent and confidence is reflected in an expansive spread of shots. Along similar lines, M.S. Dhoni’s self assurance has lent itself to his growth as a batsman.

As batsmen, Pietersen and Dhoni embody the ideal modern day cricketer — fearless, deceptively reliable and with a healthy love for the game.

As one would expect of batsmen with their methods, the subject of their captaincy was met with initial scepticism all around. Sourav Ganguly defiantly altered the age-old perception of captaincy, and Dhoni looks to carry the baton.

Men like Graeme Smith and potentially Pietersen and Dhoni can set the template for captaincy in modern-day Test cricket; methods that might end up preserving the game’s classic format. The chance is upon them to drown voices of reproach that greet every cricketing innovation.

The two will captain their respective sides in a complete series for the first time on Thursday, in the first India-England Test at the M.A. Chidambaram Stadium. Pietersen, after captaining England to a win in his first Test against South Africa, saw the momentum built with four one-day wins reversed by a 0-5 loss in the ODI series against India.

The chance for redemption wasn’t gift-wrapped in practice games. Pietersen would have least bargained for last week’s events, coming as it did after the one-day thrashing. But the captain’s batting methods are a fair reflection of his approach to the game. Pietersen bats with compelled improvisation, where simplicity is ignored. It remains to be seen whether his captaincy will rise out of trying circumstances as his batting so often does.

“I’m used to tough circumstances. From where I come from, I’ve seen a lot of difficult times before playing for England (after moving out of South Africa). It’s been tough throughout my career. But I like tough situations, since it’s a lot more rewarding when we succeed.”

December 11, 2008 Posted by | cricket | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment