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Dhoni vs Ganguly – who’s a better captain?

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By Fanatyk, Fanatyk is a Roar Rookie

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    India’s victory in the second Test against Australia, while currently overshadowed by Shane Watson’s early departure from the tour, saw another statistical plume attached to the already-crowded crown the Indian captain wears.

    As it happened, this victory marked an important milestone in MS Dhoni’s career as regards to his captaincy. It was India’s 22nd win in 45 Test matches under his captaincy, the most ever achieved by an Indian skipper.

    With this victory, he leapfrogged Sourav Ganguly’s record of 21 wins. As soon as this data-point was realised, comparisons between the two of them started flowing in from all quarters – whether or not one concerned oneself with cricket.

    To say that Dhoni has won us more matches than any of his predecessors, and hence makes for a better captain, is to assume an air of naiveté.

    For these individuals, as captains, led two differently structured teams. And while comparing different eras, statistics can tell you only so much.

    Ganguly took the reins at a time when winning an away Test series was termed as preposterous, and a draw was more than acceptable.

    With Australia dominating the International arena, a win against them, whatever the format, was considered an improbable proposition. Ganguly, as if defying pre-defined laws and re-writing them, showed how it could be done.

    After a humiliating 10-wicket defeat in the first Test of the Border-Gavaskar trophy (2000-2001) at Mumbai, the team, under his guidance, displayed an awe-inspiring resurgence to close the next two Test matches (epic ones at that) decisively in India’s favour.

    True, individual brilliance was the flavour of the series, with VVS Laxman toying with the Australian attack repeatedly and Harbhajan Singh taking on their mighty batting line-up all by himself. But that does not take anything away from Ganguly’s brilliance at the helm of affairs.

    This series marked the beginning of his romantic association with captaincy. With the series in his pocket, he then marched on to unconquered territories.

    India then drew against England in England in 2002, the outlandish journey to the finals of the 2003 World Cup, followed by the drawn series (which India completely dominated) against Australia down under in 2003-04.

    Soon, India beat Pakistan in Pakistan for the first time in more than 50 years.

    With himself, Ganguly brought to the table certain attributes previously alien to Indian cricket. The fact that he was aggressive seemed to rub off on the rest of the team.

    Used to losing away series in trying conditions, this was something new for the team. He instilled in them the winning habit.

    Not only that, he was the one who was ever so ready to breed new talent: Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Irfan Pathan, the list goes on. He led India on the path of rebuilding and laid a strong foundation.

    It is this foundation India still thrives on.

    Having said that, Dhoni has managed to fill in the captain’s boot with elan.

    Two World Cups, and the fact he was the one who actually managed to lead India to the top of the Test rankings, he boasts of a record to die for.

    At home, with the exception of the series against the visiting English that concluded in December last year, Indians still seem invincible. India’s performance in the first two Test matches, too, reinforce this long held belief.

    It would be rather rude and wrong to claim the Australian team is far from its best. True, their batting lacks expertise, but it is more or less the same attack that thoroughly destroyed the famed Indian line-up last year.

    But it is his away record that raises a few eyebrows. Two back-to-back series whitewashes (against England and Australia) is something that will haunt him forever. The English tour, where India surrendered to the rampaging opponents, was especially ignominious.

    Coming against the backdrop of the World Cup victory and Chennai Super Kings’ second straight IPL title, he fell from the acme of greatness to a definitive nadir.

    Ganguly’s away record as a captain tilts the balance in his favour. India’s ascendancy to the pinnacle of Test rankings tilts it back towards Dhoni. Having said that, one needs to look at other factors.

    One had a relatively better team, or had players who were at their peaks, than the other who had players retiring or reeling under the weight of age.

    Ganguly led India at a time when the team was jam-packed with individuals who were legends in their own right, while Dhoni has, of late, been leading a team which is in the rebuilding phase.

    It is not right to choose between two individuals belonging to somewhat different eras.

    Ganguly led the team to winning ways. Dhoni seems to have followed up on that in an exemplar way.

    He, too, will leave behind a legacy he can be proud of.

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    The Crowd Says (5)

    • March 13th 2013 @ 4:33pm
      Lakx said | March 13th 2013 @ 4:33pm | ! Report

      “Ganguly’s brilliance” “aggressive”… I do not know about his brilliance as half the time,when India is batting, he was not on the ground and the other half, the bowling, was dominated by Kumble who has proven to be a Real leader and I do not think Ganguly had any role to play in any of the wickets he took.

      “Agressive”, again I think Ganguly was know more for arrogance than aggression. The reason he was called Maharaja/prince. Kumble and Laxman were more aggressive than Ganguly but very polite. Moreover Ganguly was the least aggressive while fielding.

      Let us get it straight. In cricket you will only win when you have good players. India won matches when Tendulkar, Kumble, Sehwag, Dravid and Laxman played well. It never really mattered who the captain was.

      To get an idea of how good the captains were, just look at results of matches played outside asia and excluding ZIM(Ganguly has even lost a test to ZIM) then we have

      (Played-won-lost-win/loss)
      Dravid 10-3-2-1.5
      Kumble 4-1-2-0.5 Kumble’s record should be 4-2-1-1.5 if AUS had not cheated India in that famous match.
      Ganguly 17-3-7-0.42
      Dhoni 15-3-8-0.37.

      Clearly Dravid and Kumble are better than Ganguly and Dhoni. Ganguly, Dravid and Dhoni all have won 3 matches but Dravid did it in just 10 matches and lost just 2. Dhoni really has just won one significant match against SA, the other 2 were against a very weak WI and NZ teams.

      So the best captains were Kumble and Dravid who unfortunately captained fewer matches. The worse captain is obviously Dhoni.

      About Ganguly and Dhoni promoting talent, both these guys celebrate their birthday on the same day and both have similar traits. Both these guys suppressed real talent preferring to promote friends. Ganguly benched Kumble many times preferring to play Harbhajan.Laxman was dropped few times and was also always on the verge of being dropped. Tendulkar was being forced to bat down the order,which Tendulkar did not agree to, then Sehwag was forced to open batting which resulted in his AVG being very good instead of exceptional/great, which in the end resulted in him being dropped.

      Dhoni also tried to side line Dravid, laxman, Sehwag, Gambhir etc , ignored players like Badrinath, Karthik and tried to promote players like Raina, Parthiv patel, praveen kumar, Yusaf, Jadeja, Harbajan, none of whom succeeded. Even when team members and selectors feel they should step down, these guys will not step down. Obviously they do not know the meaning of a leader.

    • March 13th 2013 @ 4:41pm
      Lakx said | March 13th 2013 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

      Just wanted to add that Ganguly was blinded so much by friendship that during India’s series in Australia when India was losing he was saying that the difference between the previous team and this Indian team was Harbhajan. But the truth was Harbhajan has a very very bad record in AUS. The real difference was Kumble the highest wicket taker in 2 series there.

      If a person does not realize who the real match winner is then how can he be a good leader/captain.

    • March 14th 2013 @ 5:39am
      Rohit said | March 14th 2013 @ 5:39am | ! Report

      Really hard to compare the two captains, both have been good in their own ways. Gangulys record has been inflated due to victories against Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. And one must remember during Gangulys captaincy, India werent invincible at home either. They usually drew series at home as well, or just managed to win 1 match in the series. Rarely have India won more than 1 match in a series under his captaincy, which is not the case with Dhoni. I too wrote an article about Dhoni recently, please have a look at http://rohit-cricket.blogspot.com/2013/03/has-dhoni-rediscovered-his-captaincy.html

    • March 15th 2013 @ 9:10pm
      Siva Kumar PSV said | March 15th 2013 @ 9:10pm | ! Report

      To be Frank, The players who are playing in Indian Team like Shewag, Yuvi, Bajji everyone are match winners. They came into indian cricket team under Gaunguly Captiancy. Dhoni is not a game winner he is just a lucky winner. Under Gaunguly’s captiancy to be frankly speaking when sachin and Gaungly batted for long time the score came upto the mark. But now under dhoni’s captiancy till 9th batsman is capable to handle the situation atleast. But during Gaunguly’s captiancy bolwers are ment for bowling only they can’t even hold their bats properly and coming to fielding part no words to express about that. I feel loosing world cup final’s with Legendary Austrlian team is greater achievement for India under Gaunguly’s captiancy than the world cup which we won under Dhoni’s captiancy because at that time we know about the australian team world famous attacking bowlers ki Shane warne and Mc Greth and Batting legends Ricky, Beven….many others . Every one knows about the form of australian team under Dhoni’s captiancy when we won the semi final against them. It is not only said by me even the Great Legend Kapil expressed his words in one of the TV Channel the world cup we won under dhoni’s captiancy but the effort and the players who played well came from gaungly’s team. Gaunguly made politics and gave life to many match winning players. Ganguly is Legend Dhoni is just a captian according to me… Dada always rocks in Indian Hearts as a Batsman, Captian, and as a Legend ….Coming to IPL for the first 3 seasons gaunguly was captian for KKR and the team he selected was really great and marvolous but the luck didn’t favoured him. Those players are playing really well even though they are playing in different teams…. If the Luck is in Dada Hands means no body can catch DADA…………Dada Rocks alwaysssssssssssssssssss

    • April 1st 2013 @ 5:56am
      Robert James said | April 1st 2013 @ 5:56am | ! Report

      Every one knows about the form of australian team under Dhoni’s captiancy when we won the semi final against them. It is not only said by me even the Great Legend Kapil expressed his words in one of the TV Channel the world cup we won under dhoni’s captiancy but the effort and the players who played well came from gaungly’s team. Gaunguly made politics and gave life to many match winning players. Ganguly is Legend Dhoni is just a captian according to me… Dada always rocks in Indian Hearts as a Batsman, Captian, and as a Legend.About Ganguly and Dhoni promoting talent, both these guys celebrate their birthday on the same day and both have similar traits. Both these guys suppressed real talent preferring to promote friends. Ganguly benched Kumble many times preferring to play Harbhajan.Laxman was dropped few times and was also always on the verge of being dropped. Tendulkar was being forced to bat down the order,which Tendulkar did not agree to, then Sehwag was forced to open batting which resulted in his AVG being very good instead of exceptional/great, which in the end resulted in him being dropped.

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