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New Delhi, Taus Rizvi: Indian captain is known to pull off smart moves and they have clicked more often than not; this World Cup will be no different
Skipper MS Dhoni has bailed out India many a times with his smart moves. Can he do it again this time and guide India to title defence?
“Not a single win in Australia and you want to win the World Cup”.
But on Tuesday, India thrashed Afghanistan in their second and final warm-up game to post their first victory Down Under.
“So what. It came against Afghanistan.”
This is how a hurt Indian cricket fan, who has lost all hope of his team defending the crown, reacted MS Dhoni and his team struggled to post even a victory in the four Tests and tri-series ever since leaving for Down Under on November 21 last year.
But ask them to put their money on someone who could do the difficult job on the field and nine out of 10 persons will shout for Dhoni.
Such has been Dhoni’s reputation that one cannot just rule out the man from Jharkhand. It is only the Indian captain who has the power and the abilities to pull a rabbit out of the hat.
And, he has done the unthinkable many times. From giving the last over to little-known Joginder Sharma in the world Twenty20 final against Pakistan in 2007, then promoting himself above Yuvraj Singh against Sri Lanka in the 2011 World Cup final at the Wankhede where he scored a match-winning 91 not out. Dhoni, as coach Gary Kirsten said recently, is the type who is ready to take the responsibility if his moves backfired.
Who can forget the move of promoting Rohit Sharma as an opener in the Champions Trophy 2013 in England? The move worked in India’s favour as they went on to win the tournament.
And, he has done it umpteen times for Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League and Champions League T20.
Post India’s World Cup victory in 2011, then coach Kirsten, in one of his motivational lectures, had famously told a gathering of elite business leaders about the player he would go to war with by his side, and that was Dhoni.
“I have read that great leaders in the world give credit to others when things are going well and take responsibility when things are going badly. MS Dhoni is that to the ‘T’,” Kirsten had added.
Dhoni does things that are unexpected. It started with the 2007 World T20 in South Africa. The Indian cricket board picked a young team for South Africa with Dhoni as its leader. Due to the new format, lack of experience and the big players like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid choosing to stay out of it, not many gave the team any chance.
But Dhoni not only won it but also declared that you cannot write him off. He is a born leader. “Nobody new who Joginder Sharma is. Sreesanth was expensive, so was Harbhajan Singh. We had Sharma in our scheme of things for death overs and Dhoni chose him for the last over. And the move worked,” said Lalchand Rajput coach-cum-manager of that team.
India went in as favourites in the 2011 World Cup as it was held in the subcontinent. And, there were many moments that displayed Dhoni’s leadership skills.
In the ICC Champions Trophy 2013, the scenario was different. IPL spot-fixing and Sreesanth’s arrest had overshadowed India’s preparations. The media were hungry for answers over spot-fixing, but Dhoni preferred to talk just cricket. Poker face and with a cool mind, Dhoni answered only cricketing questions.
The scenario is similar this time too. Dhoni’s name has popped into the IPL spot-fixing scandal as an alleged Individual 2. India’s performances Down Under is not worth talking about too.
“You cannot just write him off. He has something special always up his sleeves. We have to wait and see. Yes, batting may be a concern just like bowling, but the kind of format is you cannot rule them out. Dhoni’s captaincy test will start from the knock out stages and he can pull off a miracle,” said Rajput.
Now, the onus is on the Indian skipper. Can he fight the adversities and prove himself once again?
You never know. His name is Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
Dhoni’s major achievements as captain
—Led India to victory in ICC World T20 2007
—Led India to No. 1 ranking in ODIs
—Led India to No. 1 ranking in Tests
—Led India to victory in ICC World Cup 2011
—Led India to victory in ICC Champions Trophy in 2013
—Led Chennai Super Kings to 2010, 2011 IPL wins and 2010 and 2014 CLT20 titles