MS Dhoni's role in Team India's resurgence
Mahendra Singh Dhoni recently notched up his 100th ODI win as captain of the Indian cricket team. Easily one of the country’s most successful skippers, Dhoni comes across as a proactive leader who reads the game very well, most notably in the limited overs format.
What has been a standout quality of his captaincy is his ability to bring out the best in his teammates, especially in crunch situations – a fact best exemplified by India’s high win percentage in ICC tournaments since the heady days of 2011.
With quite a few of the seniors from the team that won the World Cup four years back, not playing a part in the current edition, Dhoni’s able leadership has ensured that a side, not necessarily the most experienced, has turned in impressive performances, one after another in the ongoing competition.
Dhoni’s excellent man-management skills have kept the team together
Dhoni’s man management skills have come to the fore in effecting what could be a termed as a turn-around in the team’s fortunes, given the underwhelming returns in the series preceding the World Cup.
The 33-year-old has always believed in giving his boys a long rope, which has meant that no player has ever felt the need to look over one’s shoulder if the performances haven’t matched up to the desired standard. Always backing their talents and exhorting the cricketers to express themselves with bat and ball, the captain has managed to earn the trust and respect of each and every member of the team.
He might not come across as the demonstrative kind on the field, but it is a known fact that Dhoni engages his mates in one-on-one chats in private, clearly defining their roles within the team. The fast bowler Mohammed Shami, who’s had a productive outing in all matches he’s featured in, recently said in an interview that the captain never loses his cool, and he also remarked that he’s enjoyed the freedom with which the bowlers have been allowed to go about their business.
Dhoni’s call for Team India to collectively take some time off, after a winless 3 months in Australia, has already paid off in the form of India’s resurgent campaign in the 2015 World Cup, where the Men in Blue have appeared energized and focused throughout. This has always been Dhoni’s mantra ever since he’s been in charge – to keep the dressing room happy and keep tensions at bay, more so in high-profile tournaments where the fans and the scribes are always in your face.
The team should take inspiration from Dhoni for the upcoming challenges
The biggest challenge this World Cup, though, lies ahead for the Indians as they lock horns with hosts Australia on Thursday, 26th March. The stakes may be high, but given the manner in which Team India have gone about vanquishing opponents in the last seven games; there is no reason to believe that the defending champions won’t be able to get one over their slightly more fancied opponents in the semis.
Calm heads will eventually prevail in what promises to be a high-voltage encounter, and some of the more volatile characters in the Indian side should look no further than their skipper for inspiration. And not just from a leadership perspective, since Dhoni is also an outstanding lower order batsman and his ability to rely on percentage shots to take his team to winning positions, is a case in point on how to negotiate tricky situations by keeping things simple. Dhoni’s boys will do well to take a leaf out of his book and focus on the controllable – something they have done exceedingly well thus far.
It is generally said that India is half the side it is because of the captain – for a man who believes in leading from the front (who can forget his match-winning innings in the World Cup final at the Wankhede?) and sets an example for his team-mates to follow, lifting the cup a second time in succession is not out of Dhoni’s grasp. Indian cricket’s legion of fans will surely be hoping that Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s 102nd win as captain will be a memorable one.