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Dhoni can walk on water - Column by Partab Ramchand
by Partab Ramchand
Apr 07, 2009
He can do no wrong. He can walk on water or climb Mount Everest without oxygen. That is Mahendra Singh Dhoni for you. The cynics might still say he is lucky and that he has too many things in his favour. But then don't all successful captains have more than their share of good fortune?

On the other hand too much must not be made of the luck factor. Even with everything falling into place one cannot have Dhoni's record as captain just on this factor alone. He has notched up too many significant achievements to be called as just another lucky captain. An unexpected triumph in the Twenty20 World Cup, a CB series win in Australia for the first time, an ODI series victory in Sri Lanka for the first time, a notable Test series win over Australia, a 5-0 thrashing of England, a maiden ODI series victory in New Zealand and a Test series triumph in that country after 41 years. All these could not be notched up on the luck factor alone.

The uplifting, invigorating effect of just one player in the side! He does not have to be of outstanding ability or personality. He simply needs to be a little different from the others, to possess an aura about him and he can work wonders. That's what Dhoni has done. On dynamism and entertainment value he was the best thing to happen to Indian cricket in eons. And now on results under his leadership he is again the best thing to happen to Indian cricket in eons.

Dhoni has clearly debunked the age old cliché that a captain is only as good as his team. He believes that a captain can transform a team and make things happen. He believes that good, successful captaincy is all about getting a cricketer to play above his level. After all, what is a captain if not a motivator? Dhoni has instilled in his team a sense of self confidence something that he possesses in abundance. The ultimate measure is results and on that basis Dhoni the captain is arguably the best thing to happen to Indian cricket. Even Md Azharuddin and Sourav Ganguly hitherto the most successful Indian captains did not enjoy this kind of unbroken run of triumphs.

The Indian captaincy need not be a crown of thorns as Rahul Dravid made it seem when he resigned in 2007. It all depends on the captain's attitude and Dhoni's has been refreshingly different. It is palpable that he is actually enjoying the job even while taking difficult situations and adverse conditions in his stride. His perennial sunny smile symbolizes his optimism, his upbeat mood.

Dhoni has spelt out his philosophy many times. He has always maintained that he wanted his team to enjoy the game. "When you take the pressure situation of a big game and start worrying about results, it does affect your performance. So I have told my team not to take any pressure on themselves," he has been quoted as saying. There has been a lot of self-belief, confidence, commitment and desire shown by the players. They have dared to be aggressive, backed their instincts and achieved results. Dhoni's hands-on captaincy has made him an inspiring leader who considers himself first among equals. Apparently with Dhoni what you see is what you get. He is clearly the most intuitive captain since Kapil Dev. He himself has said that he goes more by instinct when it comes to making a decision on the field or in picking a particular player.

Dhoni's captaincy has been marked by innovative touches by way of shrewd bowling changes, placing fieldsmen in attacking positions and the willingness to try something different. Like his batting, his captaincy too is adventurous and full of surprises. Behind that perennial smile lurks a wise cricketing brain and his calm demeanour and "Captain Cool" image are qualities that will continue to stand him in good stead. He has graduated naturally from the Twenty20 leadership to Fifty50 and to Test captain.

Right now everything Dhoni touches is turning into gold. He is the Teflon captain so much so that the criticism against his unnecessarily delayed declaration which possibly cost India the Test at Wellington has been rather muted. However no path can be full of roses and the Indian captain is bound to come up against the thorns sometime in the future. But given his sunny, positive attitude, one cannot see Dhoni getting flustered or frustrated. He will take even such adverse situations in his stride.
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