How graceful and rememborable it was to see our one and only Captain MSD lead India Xl during the warm-up match. I think there are three things which can be said about an Indian Cricketer who had lead India in the past.
2. Uniting the players
This is the primary responsibility of a captain has to handle. You own up the team members irrespective of what performance they delivered. Sourav Ganguly, Ricky Pointing, Adam Gilchrist are the pioneer of such unbelievable support they provided to the younger generation. Nobody would have known Yuvraj Singh, Harbhajan Singh , Virender Sehwag if Ganguly was not the prince and capitan of Indian Cricket Team. It was Ganguly who harnessed these youngsters and made them the household name in Indian cricket. These youngsters worked hard and improved their game and credit goes to them but it was Ganguly who unconditionally supported these young kids and changed the very fabric of Indian Cricket. Ricky Pointing is known for lot of things but the biggest of all was his belief in Andrew Symonds during 2003 World Cup. Symonds failed over and over again but Ricky Pointing was as adamant as he could have been keeping Symonds in the playing XI even after Symonds overwhelming failures . Then came a match against Pakistan and Symond was up for the challenge and he thrashed all Pakistani bowlers as if it was a club game and one could see the satisfaction in Pointing eyes. Year 2007, world cup was a mess for Adam Gilchrist but then he had one last chance of redemption before 2007 world cup would become a history and a misery for Gilchrist. He went all gun blazing and single handedly took the World Cup away from Sri Lanka.
In case of MSD he was always ready to back the youngsters either it was R Jadeja or Suresh Raina. Even Rohit and Shikhar were given ample opportunities which could be argued that they were given one too many. But the point is if your capitan is not accountable and he is not owning the fifteen players then it’s impossible for the team to succeed. Dhoni will advocate and defend his players when team will loose a match. Even when, one team member wins a match he will credit the team as a whole and then talk about individuals performance.
It was 1998 when Sachin Tendulkar was appointed as a capitan but the team results were dismal. Tendulkar had to stand up and quit the capitancy. It was a clear and concise message to upcoming captains that nobody is above the team no matter what. Similarly, pressure was put on Rahul Dravid for owning the 2007 world cup debacle and he had to resign from the Indian capitancy.
When I look at Pakistan the changes in the leadership were never a by product of owning a team and it’s recent performance. If the capitan had scored a fifty in the last game, he will continue leading the team. This means you are setting up a very wrong example, the capitan should not only be responsible for his own performance but more importantly the performance of the team. If he fails to persuade, encourage or entice the players to produce the performance to the best of their ability then he cannot lead that team. Even though his own performance had improved, but the unit has failed to produce substantial results.
Uniting the players:
India is a diverse society and Indians follow multiple faiths, speaks multiple languages and follows different tradition and culture. When, we have players coming from all over India, it is important to keep these players together. When you wear the men in blue jersey, it is important to unlearn about your state, your state association or even your state traditions. Now you are not representing Mumbai or Karnataka but you are representing the India which begins in North with Kashmir and stretches till and beyond Kanyakumari. The capitan job is to make sure the group is close to each other. In Pakistan everyone speaks the same language which is Urdu; if it’s Shahid Afridi or Sohaib Akhtar. Ofcourse Sohaib was more fluent in Punjabi but at the end of the day they all know Urdu. So the kind of team bounding activities you can do are limited in their impact. Most of Indians would know Hindi, but they can just understand not speak Or not write the language and hence rely on their instincts.
Pakistan poorly manages accountability, if Umar Akmal was part of Indian Squad and he got out the way he did against India, in world cup 2015, t20 wc 2016 getting LBW to a part time bowler for atleast three time in his last five innings againstst India then Umar Akmal will get a thank you letter from BCCI and that will be the end of it. You cannot allow a youngster, who cannot read the length of a part time bowler. That is a crime for me, but. PCB doesn’t mind that.
Remember Australia sacked David Warner for punching Joe Root. Even Andrew Symonds career was cut short because of the disciplinary issues he had with Cricket Australia. CA could have taken their decision back and could have given a softer punishment if that meant Australia could win 2011 World Cup. But they didn’t because you have to treat the players fairly and winning a World Cup is not as important as it is to abide by the discipline and code of conduct . If you set up a wrong example, you are heading to a disaster than rebuilding a team or inspiring kids to play the game.
The very fabric of the Pakistan’s cricket has been convoluted to such heights that ODI and T20 losses are becoming a national shame for Pakistan. When you have 300 balls to score 268 runs, the last thing a chasing team would try is to play the lofty drives or taking the aerial route. Mind you, I said “Last Thing”. What Pakistan did, was to take risk and play the ball in the air, even though you could ein it by singles, doubles and one off boundary. Pakistan tried hitting every ball out of the stadium , that’s called Lala Cricket and it has nothing to do with actual cricket.
Indian are known for their batting strength as India has produced world class batsmen time and time again. It is very dear to the Indian people to cherish the marvelous inning Sunil Gavaskar or Sachin Tendulkar has once played. Similarly watching Virender Sehwag or Karun Nair scoring a triple hundred is as big an occasion as Sachin Tendulkar scoring the first 200 in ODI’s. Watching Sachin Tendulkar scoring a 100 on GABA is as intense and overwhelming as seeing Virat Kohli scoring 49 in a low scoring game against Pakistan.
They all are masterpieces of great craftsmanship but that doesn’t mean we overlook the performances our bowlers has produced or the spectacular catches our fielders have taken. Zaheer Khan opening spell is as vibrant in my memory as when Venkatesh Prasad counting Aamir Sohail as blessing in disguise. The transformation of a mediocre in to one bad ass bowler who will win the match single-handedly. Anil Kumble taking ten wickets or Ajay Jadeja taking on the Waqar Younis boomerangs.
Pakistan on the other hand has been caught in confusion for how long they can celebrate scoring the fastest century against Kenya. Believe it or not Kenya is not even a test playing nation. They have forgotten the Wasim’s spell or Mohd Aamir spell in the asia cup. Rather they want to celebrate one match Afridi won against India hitting two sixes. If that is your role model it’s surprising to see why they want the Pakistan to win any ODI whatsoever.
If Afridi is the symbol of flamboyance dust which rarely shines, then Dhoni is the nerve of steel who proves the very best he can be everyday. If Afridi is the limit then Dhoni is the sky.