I have been reading a lot of posts criticizing Dhoni esp after what happened in the last T20 ODI between and England Vs India and someone even said that Why he is still captain of India. I have tried to take up this question based on whatever limited amateur knowledge I am having in cricket.

So before trying to answer this question let me try to put up some of the lines straight from Wikipedia. It goes like this –

“..He took over the ODI captaincy from Rahul Dravid in 2007 and led the team to its first ever bilateral ODI series wins in Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Under his captaincy, India won the 2007 ICC World Twenty20, the CB Series of 2007–08, the 2010 Asia Cup, the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup and the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy. ”

“.. In June 2013, when India defeated England in the final of the Champions Trophy in England, Dhoni became the first captain to win all the three ICC trophies. He has also captained the Chennai Super Kings to victory in the 2010 and 2011 seasons of Indian Premier League along with the 2010 Champions League Twenty20.”

“..It was under his captaincy that India climbed to No. 1 in the ICC Test Rankings in December 2009.”

“.. After winning the 2011 ICC Cricket World Cup final against Sri Lanka on 2 April 2011 with his match winning knock of unbeaten 91, Tendulkar heaped praises on Dhoni, claiming him to be the best captain he has played under.”

 Now enough..??  OKAY.

Let’s see what some of the greatest cricketing legends have to say about Dhoni.

“Dhoni the best captain I have played under” – Sachin Tendulkar

“when I die, the last thing I want to see is the six that Dhoni hit in the 2011 world cup final” – Sunil Gavaskar

“If 15 runs are needed off the last 6 balls, pressure is on the bowler and not on MS Dhoni.” – Ian Bishop

“Dhoni is my hero. We talk a lot about Sachin Tendulkar, Virender Sehwag, but this boy has as much as talent as anyone in the game” – Kapil Dev

“Dhoni is one of the finest leaders in the game in the last 30 years and is at par with the likes of Imran Khan, Mark Taylor and Arjuna Ranatunga.”- Ian Chappel

“He has that uniqueness to respond to a tough situation with ease. He does not involve himself much emotionally, and that’s his quality. India are lucky to have a captain like Dhoni.” – VVS Laxman

“He has evolved as a leader, not just as a cricketer. In my opinion, if you see his records, he is definitely the best captain India ever had” – Wasim Akram

“Dhoni has been an outstanding captain. His record as captain is terrific. He still has a lot of cricket left in him and he has done wonders to Indian cricket”  – Sourav Ganguly

“MS Dhoni still the best bet as Test, ODI captain. No calmer finisher than Dhoni” –Harsha Bhogle( Many of you won’t keep him  under Cricketing legends which is understandable so you can very well exclude this.)

“When you compare the icons of the game, you have Sunil Gavaskar, Kapil Dev, Sachin Tendulkar and Dhoni in the same bracket.” – Ravi Sastri

” He is a great leader by example. Someone whom I have always admired for his ability to remain balanced and have the sense of equanimity about his captaincy,”- Rahul Dravid

“Dhoni is one of the greatest captain I have ever seen. Dhoni’s record is praiseworthy. Twenty-two Test wins is not a small achievement. And the success against Australia has come against the backdrop of the not-so-good times he went through in the last two years” – Sourav Ganguly

 

Enough said. Now cut back to present i.e.  Last T20 ODI between England and India.

If we go by pure mathematics then records suggests that Dhoni was well capable of getting 17 out of 6. There were two chances of singles in last last over but he let them go –

Is Dhoni overconfident? – Well there are two aspects of looking at this. First, he could have taken single and  would have gone to the non-striker’s end, watching the show and who knows India would have lost here by more than 3 runs and lost a few more more extra wickets. For me that would have been the safest option to do so esp after team’s pathetic performance in the test series. Second, he could have kept the strike (which actually he did) and try slogging but then also unfortunately we lost and it didn’t work out which leads us to next question –

Is he not having enough faith on Rayudu, if you are not having faith then why you take him in the team? –  It would be very unfair to say this. After all at the end of the day he has to be answerable. It’s the captain who has to take decisions on the field. Some of his so called smart moves in the past have worked out well but not this time. It’s always very easy to judge or criticize someone but it’s extremely tough to justify. I don’t think he is so immature, that he was unaware of the fact that if he won’t be able to take team to victory them he is the one who will come under scanner but then also he took the risk.

Where did Dhoni go wrong? What could have been done? – The only possible move I could think of is promoting Rayudu above Jadeja as he was taken in team as a specialist batsman else all looks fair to me. But then again as I said it earlier also that it’s the captain who has to decide on the field. For instance 2011 world cup final, promoting himself up the order. So it’s all a captain’s call.

Does he still deserve to be the captain of India? – A big question to answer. Looking at the present scenario and what he has delivered in the past few years in ODI and T20 his captaincy in these two formats should be untouched at least till the upcoming world cup. The only area to concern is test matches and when I say test matches I mean esp in overseas. But then again you also got to have options. Blaming the captain alone for the team’s poor performance would be unjustifiable – why? Because there has not been any serious effort by BCCI to match the home conditions with overseas conditions. It’s not the captaincy that has lead the team down rather than it’s the lack of the up to the mark delivery/performance of individuals that has lead the team down. Merely changing captains to me is not going to work. Changing captain is only going to change the answerable person. So rather than changing the captain or at least thinking to do so, the focus should be shifted in improving the home conditions and matching to that of overseas playing conditions. Else this time it’s Dhoni and may be next time there would be someone else. The only permanent solution to solve this problem is to arrange for more overseas tours and let the players exposed more. You can only improve better by playing more and not by thinking or planning more.  Secondly start focusing from the school levels itself so that the incoming breed of players will be more resilient and both technically and mentally more sound. It’s going to take time definitely but unfortunately that’s the only way out here.

To sum it all, at the end of the day we all are humans and so is Dhoni and we all are prone to make mistakes and so happened with Dhoni. He has delivered in past and we all know how capable he is. His contribution to Indian cricket is immense and he has given us many glorious moments to cherish for. To me it was just a bad day. If he would have clicked then no one would have even raised a single question but unfortunately he didn’t.

Vivek Kumar

MBA Candidate at IIM Shillong

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