Down, but not out
Dec 14 2012 , New Delhi
Not so long back a comment was doing the rounds about the Australian cricket team — “anyone’s grandmother could have led the team”. For Mahi as captain of the Indian cricket team, problems started cropping up when Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman bid adieu. Honestly, it is not a mountainous task to lead a settled squad, but the equation changes when the team is in transition. Of late, that has been his archenemy, and that’s what he has been losing his battle to — an unsettled squad. To be fair, Mahi has never faced this situation before; he is as inexperienced as a virgin cricket ball.
After playing first class cricket for five years, Mahi made headlines in 2004, when he made a quickfire 148 against Pakistan in a One Day International. Captain Dhoni was never seen as captain material, but then came the T20 World Cup and the selectors were not happy to go for the seasoned blood. The team became the champion in the inaugural T20 tournament, and the rest is history. The dark, skinny boy from Jharkhand became darling of the nation.
Soon he was given responsibilities of the One Day and Test teams. However, Mahi never had the love, which Dada enjoyed, respect that Tendulkar commanded or the suaveness of Anil Kumble. However, Saurav Ganguly never won a World Cup, Sachin Tendulkar never led the team to No 1 raking in Tests and Kumble did not play even a single T20 international. That’s MS Dhoni’s record for you.
He made a killing on his instincts; his gambles were spot on and everything that he touched bore results. The move to give Joginder Sharma to bowl the last over of the T20 World Cup final in South Africa, or promoting himself in the final of the World Cup in Mumbai and opening bowling with spinners could be seen as eccentricities in the hindsight. But each move has proven to be a masterstroke.
Man for every season, Dhoni can be said to be a true team player. Known for his blitzkrieg batting style, Mahi, with time and responsibilities, has adapted the anchorman’s role from being a pinch hitter he used to be in his earlier days. Pity, his 50-plus average in One Dayers has gone unnoticed. However, one area in which Mahi falls short is on how to build a team. This is the same reason infesting the fortunes of the Indian cricket team right now.
The occasions when the captain cool has been in news for wrong reasons are rare. Two big drubbings in the hands of the visiting English team, falling out with the seniors and a patchy form have kept Mahi in the news for all the wrong reasons this past week.
News of his possible sacking has been making headlines on every medium of communication. Great players keep their aces up their sleeves and Dhoni’s aces have never gone out of stock till now. Down but not out, one thing is for sure: Dhoni will fight it out till the last ball is bowled. The great gambler is yet to reveal his cards.