Nothing can be more satisfactory for cricket in India than a long-serving captain, Sourav Ganguly, who turned the team from a mere defensive bunch of men into a formidable power, retiring with two gifts: team is in the hands of equally able, suave and thinking skipper and a victory over the invincible Aussies. With Kumble, the greatest Indian bowler, called it a day a few days before the Nagpur Test, the transition of captaincy for Test, ODIs and Twenty-20 has been smooth and without any controversy.
Comparing Dhoni with Sourav might yield some startling contrast yet some insightful similarity. A belligerent, aggressive and anger-laden Ganguly, showed all his indignation openly if a player did not perform up to his potential, while Dhoni is all calm and serene even in the toughest of time. This does not mean Dhoni is not aggressive or belligerent in approach so far leading in field is concerned. Without doubt, Dhoni has far greater forbearance than Ganguly but less exhibition of army-like body language in the field. Though both of them love results more than individual performance, Ganguly provided more inputs verbally than Dhoni, who likes his mates to learn from his expressionless face more than his shouting.
Both are high class cricket brains, at least in reading the opponent’s minds and strategies that very few in India possess. In strategy and operation, both Ganguly and Dhoni have edge over Kumble and Dravid, whose traditional way of leading did not go well. Even in his hey days, Gavaskar was accused of slowing down the tempo of the game as well as the negative captaincy. It was Kapil Dev, who had enthused a change in the mindset – from being defensive to offensive, and the victory of the present Team India is the result of attacking the opponent, rather than defending the game. Ganguly carried forward that legacy with élan and went on to become the most successful captain of India.
Certainly, Ganguly had an edge. Age and experience was in his side while Dhoni, with lesser age and experience, showed far greater maturity and respect for senior players. Losing temperament was usual with Ganguly though it worked sometimes, Dhoni has so far never shown irritation or anger publicly. Dhoni is subtle and supportive in handling pressure, and a great reader of the game than any other skipper that I have seen. Earlier, Ravi Shastri showed some great signs, but unfortunately he did not get much change. Being a wicket keeper is of great help to Dhoni, as it helps him watch the batsmen closer than anyone else. Since skippers likes to stand either at mid-on or mid-off for a straighter view of the playing batsman, only to gauge the weaknesses in them, Dhoni is lucky to spot the Achilles Heels of the opposition.
Unlike other skippers that Team India could produce so far, none had the capacity to take risk except Ganguly and Dhoni. Hence, their winning rate and total are exceedingly ahead of others. Cricket is a physical game more but a mind game no less than earlier, out captains hardly maintained. Team management and unity among the players is another tough job that skippers are supposed to perform. And if a captain is above the regional feeling or bias, or close proximity due to friendship, he would excel.
Employment of winning strategy is the hallmark of a good captain. In talk, it seems easier, while in execution, even greats like Gavaskar and Vengsarkar did not perform up to that level that Ganguly has done or Dhoni is doing. The good points about Ganguly was that he used to think out of the box, and going against the traditional methodologies, he employed captaincy skills on over by over basis, rather session by session strategy. Dhoni is a real attacker on opponent with his constant reading of the game on the micro level and employment of his plans, or change in plans in quick succession.
In joy over sinning or sadness at the loss, Ganguly has been more exhibit, as his body language seemed not to accept this, while Dhoni showed happiness but not the child like ecstasy and sadness, not like a widow. Both are equally good in or off the field – charmingly handsome and without any controversy. We will remember Ganguly for metamorphosing Team India, and we praise Dhoni for his ability to lead and continue with the legacy.
Read More: Nagpur
KASHISH SEHGALNovember 11, 2008 at 12:00 AM