A player is great only so long as
he performs consistently,
writes Makarand Waingankar
Cricket is nothing but a game of confidence. Technique and fitness follow the mindset. This was quite evident at Mohali when the standby Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni made some aggressive and confident moves to unnerve the Aussies.
It will be too early to compare him with some of the great captains of the game but he showed that unless the captain is bold enough to make aggressive moves, he will never survive against a highly fit and professional team like Australia.
The astounding victory full of statistical highlights was not a fluke. It was a carefully thought out and planned attack that was executed and master-minded to perfection by M.S. Dhoni. Coming from Ranchi which definitely doesn’t have any cricket culture, Dhoni seemed to have watched the moves international captains make and seems to have adopted a certain style of play.
There is a saying that leaders can’t be made; they are born. But a leader in cricket unlike other team sports, has to make certain moves in the international matches and has no time to glance at the pavilion for some tips from the coach. Thus, everything from the body language to field manoeuvres need to send out the right signals.
Dhoni’s aggression started from the way he spoke after winning the toss. No mind-games before and after.
Just clarity of thought about what his team intends to do for the next five days. And they did it. It was a simple, no-fuss plan.
The strategy was clear; if you win the toss, bat for a minimum of five sessions and put the opposition under pressure. Verbal reassurance from the captain acts like a tonic to his players.
Not sure what tactic Dhoni uses in the dressing room when he is the captain, one is inclined to believe that he certainly has definite roles for each player.
This was evident because the Mohali Test was a mammoth team-effort, if there was one.
The policy, however, seems to be to stick to the team plan and move towards it by reading the situation every session.
It doesn’t necessarily work all the time but after winning the toss if an international side fails to get a minimum of 400, the side deserves to lose.
The theory propagated by the West Indians during the 60s and 70s was to have five batsmen and five bowlers with a wicketkeeper.
If the five batsmen couldn’t get you 450, bowlers were not expected to get it. And if the five bowlers couldn’t get you 20 wickets, batsmen were not expected to get them. Plain and simple.
Dhoni is moving towards this theory while playing in India mainly because in him we are lucky to have an additional accomplished batsman-wicketkeeper all-rounder.
It’s a matter of time before he takes over from Kumble, who plagued by shoulder injury is not hundred per cent fit and when that happens, as a captain and frontline bowler, he is under pressure.
Sentiments and emotions have no place in professional sports. All the greats disappeared from the scene when they stopped performing. They were all great till the time they performed consistently and won more matches than their colleagues.
This is a fact K. Srikkanth’s selection committee can’t afford to ignore. At Mohali, the kangaroos stopped hopping. You never know when they will bounce back with a vengeance.