India have recalled batsmen Rohit Sharma and Murali Vijay to their 18-man Test squad for the tour of Australia, opting for experience for the four-match series.
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Shane Watson has gone gaga over MS Dhoni’s captaincy, hailing his cool and calm demeanour as influencing him to do better as a batsman after a cold season with Royal Challengers Bangalore as an all-rounder in 2017.
Given his record for India as captain, Watson’s praises shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. But it coming from an Aussie shows the respect he has earned is not just among his competitors, but his peers as well.
Analysing his captaincy over the last 12 years, I will do a SWOT analysis of MS Dhoni’s captaincy.
His calm outer demeanour not just rubs off on his teammates, but also catches the opposition off-guard as they don’t seem to know what goes on inside his head.
It’s not for no reason he is called the coolest captain in the world by Shahid Afridi, the enigmatic former captain of Pakistan.
Never will you see any emotion on his face in the times of victory as well as during the defeats. The monk that MS Dhoni has known to be over the year seems to always be in the state of meditation.
In fact, after the high of winning the World Cup and IPL in 2011, he subsequently lost almost everything starting from an 8-0 whitewash in England and Australia.
He lost the No. 1 ranking in Tests, lost the Asia Cup, lost a home series against Pakistan and a Test series for first time in 25 years to England, before he bounced back with a 4-0 win against Australia at home and winning ICC Champions trophy in 2013 to cement his position as the leader within the group until 2017.
In the corporate world, there is a lot of success and lot of failure along the way. But it is imperative that failure is treated in the same way as success and not allowed to get deep within the head.
This has not just made him successful but unique in his approach as Gary Kirsten, former Indian and South African coach, put it; MS Dhoni doesn’t get bothered thinking about winning or losing. In fact, Kirsten went ahead and said he would be ready to go to war with Dhoni.
In an era where emotional captains such as Sourav Ganguly, Ricky Ponting and Virat Kohli have found success having their hearts on their sleeves, Dhoni has been the exact opposite.
MS Dhoni is known to back players to the hilt. Players such as Rohit Sharma, Virat Kohli and Ravindra Jadeja attribute their success to Dhoni.
It was Dhoni who promoted Rohit Sharma to open the innings at the Champions Trophy in 2013, and we know the rest – three double tons and almost 6000 runs in ODIs.
Similarly, Virat Kohli was backed despite his lean form in Test series against Australia in 2011-12 and, since his Test century at Adelaide, hasn’t looked back, going on to become the No. 1 player across all three formats for India.
But, on the other hand, Dhoni’s stubbornness caused India to lose out on a few key players as well.
Manoj Tiwary, back in 2011, had scored a century against the West Indies but was still not picked over Suresh Raina, who MS backed despite not scoring runs in the tri-series against Australia and Sri Lanka.
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India lost the series, and you would wonder if his stubbornness proved India costly.
Another example was sending an out of form Yuvraj Singh ahead of Suresh Raina in World T20, despite Yuvraj not being his fluent self throughout the entire tournament.
Dhoni has achieved whatever he could as the leader of the team, winning the World Cup, World T20, ICC Champions Trophy, Test Mace, IPL and Champions League.
There is nothing left for him to achieve. He is the only captain to win all the ICC Tournaments. He is just a few runs away from becoming the only No. 6 batsman to score 10,000 runs.
The opportunity for MS Dhoni lies in proving himself as an able mentor to the younger ones and helping the newer Indian captains with his views and field setting now that DRS is mandatory.
While age can be an issue for old horses, MS Dhoni has managed to keep himself fit and healthy. His keeping has been top notch while making the entire cricketing world go ‘wow’ with his timing of stumpings and run-outs.
But time and again when MS has not been able to deliver with the bat, his place in the team has been called into question. With him being on the wrong side of 35, Dhoni must remember few bad matches in a row could see his place under threat.
With the emergence of Rishabh Pant, Sanju Samson and Dinesh Karthik, Dhoni’s spot isn’t completely assured if he doesn’t perform.
For young leaders, MS Dhoni is the perfect example of how a young leader has kept his feet firmly on the ground and been a source of inspiration, not just to his teammates, but opposition teams as well.