Mahendra Singh Dhoni stunned the Indian cricket fans by stepping down as the ODI and T-20 captain of the Indian cricket team on Wednesday. Dhoni’s decision has left most of the cricketing astonished but nevertheless his decision has been seen as a positive move in the interest of the team’s future.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni shall surely go down as arguably India’s most successful captain in the limited overs arena and the T-20 format.
Its not just the number that hugely back his cause as the greatest Indian captain but the way he lead the team to achieve those lofty heights under his captaincy.
If one goes back into time turning pages of Indian cricketing history, it can be clearly divided into eras where the team was under the command and control of a charismatic leader who shaped the mental psyche and cricketing acumen of the team.
Every captain had his unique style of captaincy which clearly has a bearing on how the team fared on the green turf. If MAK Pataudi has that regal style and panache to lead the Indian side to their first ever overseas series win in New Zealand, Kapil Dev was an inspirational leader who led his troops by example showcasing all-round brilliance with the bat and ball in the 1983 World Cup.
If Azharuddin was a master tactician in making India into a fortress at home in test cricket all through the 90s, Sourav Ganguly instilled a winning attitude into the Indian side and transformed the team into a combative side which took on the very best in their backyard.
All of these great captains made noteworthy contribution to Indian cricket. One thing which was common among all these captains was they came from the so called Powerhouses of cricket and came from relatively big cities in India where there were opportunities a plenty to make their initial impression.
Mahendra Singh Dhoni changed all of that for sure. For a small town boy from Ranchi whose first love was always football and accidentally took to cricket at a much later stage in life, Dhoni catapulted his way into international cricket with some whirlwind knocks which cemented his place as a finisher par excellence in the Indian side.
In 2007 when he took over as captain of the Indian team for the ICC T-20 World Cup, many raised their eyebrows as pundits and fans saw the move as a case of superseding more seasoned campaigners who were better suited to lead the Indian team.
But as the tournament went along, Dhoni proved his critics wrong by scripting notable wins against formidable oppositions like South Africa and Australia to guide India into the finals against arch rivals Pakistan. Dhoni was seen as a great reader of the game and altered his game plans to perfection, best suited to win games.
His biggest strength proved to be his calm and cool demeanour which helped him soak enormous amounts of pressure and stand like a rock solid leader. He made uncanny changes in his bowling plans which many thought to be unorthodox but effective.
Bowling a Joginder Sharma ahead of more illustrious counterparts in the last over of the finals against Pakistan would have not made cricketing sense to many, but Mahi backed his instincts and paid off huge dividends in winning India the title.The T-20 success saw him as a front contender for the ODI captaincy.
Dhoni proved to be an excellent tactician in the limited overs format and transformed India into a formidable ODI unit. The team jelled brilliantly under his reign and Dhoni got the best out of his resources. The defining moment of his glittering ODI captaincy was lifting the much awaited World Cup crown in 2011 after a long gap of 28 years.
Dhoni went onto achieve more glory by adding the 2013 Champions Trophy silverware to his kitty. The Indian team’s record in multi-nation tournament finals improved significantly as Dhoni instilled a never say die attitude in the team which helped them to win crunch moments in big finals.
Dhoni relished the challenge of captaincy and his batting also matured as he donned the skipper’s hat. He became one of the best finishers in international cricket by producing some brilliant cameos down the order to take his side across the line many a time.
Dhoni could play the accelerators role by unearthing some devastating stroke play or play the accumulators role by milking the singles through the gaps, as the situation deemed. Add to that his razor sharp wicket keeping skills which have resulted in effecting many spectacular catches and lighting quick stumping behind the stumps.
Many attribute luck to Dhoni’s rise as one of the most successful Indian captain but history has proven that fortune only favours the brave. Unconventional yet effective, maverick yet subtle that is what defines Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s brilliant captaincy in a nutshell.