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The heart of a Champion - The Difference maker

So after India lost yet another match comprehensively, the fingers have slowly started to point, the voices have started to echo, and the glares have become more than just subtle, gentle gazes. The centre of all of this is the man who should be responsible for the team’s outcome. Not the coach, not the selectors, but the man who commandeers the ship when it matters, in the middle of the ground, MS Dhoni. The so called ‘Captain Cool’ seems to have lost that ‘factor’, and has been on the receiving end of some heavy defeats. This series, however, is surprising. Not about the team losing; no, that has become a formality of sorts now. But the team losing at home.

So this brings out the question. After losing matches (8-0) overseas, now the team is getting back to where it was over a decade ago. We went overseas, but it was just for a mere appearance for the spectators, just to say, ‘Hey! How you doin’?’ (A bit of Joey never hurts) And is this what it takes just for people to question where the team is heading to? As a person, who was an ardent cricket fan more than half a decade ago, I am more than just surprised. Surprised how the selectors have turned their attention from an under-performing captain who has also failed to motivate the team, to making three changes by dropping Yuvraj, Harbhajan and Zaheer, and washing their hands. How many losses will it take for them to realize something needs to be done, and needs to be done quick?

Not so long ago, we boasted of being the top Test team in the World. After all, it took more than a decade of hard work and aggression to reach that level. What happened? Have we stopped performing? Has the team taken a lazy route? Or is it the captain who should be blamed? Well, how about all the three? A team is successful only if the captain flourishes, and we all know that. Yes, a team can be  successful even if the captain fails to perform, but I was referring to the complete side of a captain. The role of a captain is to be the mentor, the force which drives the team, a motivator who can stand up and take charge when the chips are down. And I haven’t seen that in Dhoni. And it is not rare that he has always been compared with one man who single handedly changed the face of Indian Cricket – Cue ‘Dada’, the bad man himself, Sourav Ganguly.

When I say ‘bad man’, I mean it in all respect. I am one of the biggest Sourav Ganguly fans. And we all remember what made him one of the most controversial, yet a darling to the Cricket fans. He improvised, used outrageous methods just to give back to the opposition what they have been lashing out at us for oh so many decades. It is not often that one person fights against an entire Cricketing nation. Sourav Ganguly has done it, and successfully too. The way he fought back mentally with the Aussies and the English are legendary tales, tales that can be told to the next generation. He was the innovator, the game changer, the difference maker. He took steps no one else would have, and that is the mark of a man who can never be boggled down. And so, what makes him more successful, and as fate would have it, more prone to the BCCI’s fury? That is a different story altogether.

Most of us know that Javagal Srinath, the legendary Indian pace bowler, was one of the best fast bowlers the country had ever produced. As the tale goes, Ganguly convinced Srinath to play the 2003 World Cup, and then retire. What happened next? We reached the finals. What is more fascinating, and the bottomline of the whole article, is that we did it abroad in South Africa. Sourav is one of the most respected, and hated men that the sport has seen. The only close second would be Punter. But that’s a different topic entirely.

When Indians needed someone to take over the mantle of leadership after the whole match fixing scandal broke out, Ganguly put his hand up. What happened after that? A series win against Australia in India, which was the most pivotal moment in the turnaround of the country’s fortunes in the sport. Ganguly was never politically correct. He was always “correct”, or according to him anyway. And he proved it with results. Taking so many youngsters, he elevated the country’s status, propelling us to heights never seen before. His antics against the Australians in Australia cannot be forgotten. And he never did the whole “middle finger flippin’ deal”, like the “aggressive” youngsters of today’s generation do. He dished back what the Aussies have been doing for so long. Not sledging either, but mind games.

And what makes Ganguly better than Dhoni? I, for one, can stand up, and say ‘The King of Come backs’ title would suffice. When the whole World went against Ganguly, what did he do? Came back, time after time, like only he can. He had the attitude, which spoke out that no one can tell him to go away, that he would be the master of his own fate. His legendary come backs aren’t short of being as outrageous and inspiring, as the tales of his captaincy.

The point here is, Dhoni needs to go back and learn from the master himself. The person who had taken India from #8 to #2, the guy, who was tested and questioned time after time, but came back with a bang each time. The person responsible for creating the new Indian team, built by him, which was then handed over to Dhoni. It is never an insult to learn from the best. And if Dhoni has to come back in the last Test, he needs to learn just how to motivate the team. Although that isn’t necessary; unlike Dada’s team, this team has a lot of experience, a lot of guys who have been there for a long time. But more than anything, Dhoni needs to learn how to carry on the burden when the chips are down. That, is the difference maker. That is what sets Dada apart from the rest of the World. And that is what we need at this point; a captain with the heart of a Champion.

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