Sourav Ganguly was someone who was constantly pushing, probing and
asking the opposition for answers while MS Dhoni has been criticised for his defensive captaincy © Getty Images
As Team India are smarting from yet another heavy loss and experiencing an overhaul in the backroom staff. MS Dhoni will have fresh start in the One-Day Internationals (ODIs). R Vishal says Dhoni should now tweak his identity as a skipper and emulating some of Sourav Ganguly’s ways may not be a bad idea.
“MS Dhoni lets games drift by in Test cricket”, a line that is on every commentator and the armchair critic on the street after yet another humiliating loss away from home. While the argument does hold water and the Indian skipper has certainly been culpable of being a passenger when the opposition seize or wrestle back the initiative, nobody can deny that he is a different beast in the shorter formats of the game.
While Dhoni has already soared one step above Ganguly in the shorter formats and in Tests at home, he had a bigger impact as a captain by which he is remembered by — a browbeating, no-nonsense leader who oozed authority. With India torn to smithereens in yet another away trip, heads will roll and Dhoni’s leadership has come under the scanner yet again. Ganguly himself has come out and has not held back his punches while dissecting Dhoni’s leadership. Not known to mince words, Ganguly urged the Ranchi dasher to adopt a fresh approach. What changes can he possibly implement?
Goodbye to Mr Nice guy: The ‘Captain Cool’ image was refreshing when in its early stages. For the better part of his career, Ganguly missed a Dhoni or a Dhoni-like figure in One-Day Internationals (ODIs). That void was probably the reason that stood in the way of clinching a trophy and finishing runners-up, which India so often did. Tests, though are a different kettle of fish, and Ganguly was someone who never took the foot off the gas. He was constantly pushing, probing and had the asked the opposition for answers.
Having a pool of leaders: Ganguly recently pointed out that he hugely benefitted from bouncing ideas off the other batting heavyweights, all of whom were blessed with a analytical cricket brain. While the batting class of a Sachin Tendulkar or a Rahul Dravid is incomparable, Dhoni needs to have a group of strong trusted aides with whom Dhoni can have tactical discussions with.
To be fair to Dhoni, this is a bit of a conundrum too, now that that question marks have risen over the technique of the batting mainstays, Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara. When a player’s place in the side is under scrutiny, it becomes hard to immerse into other aspects of the game or the team. This has put Dhoni in a vicious cycle: he cannot have a good batting line-up because of lack of a batsman who can show the way, and he cannot have a batsman who can show the way because he does not have a good batting line-up.
This will be the toughest challenge ahead as Dhoni has way too many in the side who may not ever challenge an on-field decision of his. But this team of followers need it, irrespective of Duncan Fletcher staying or leaving, irrespective of who the coach and the team manager is.
Complete coverage of India’s tour of England 2014
(R Vishal is a journalist and alumnus of Asian College of Journalism. He can be followed on Twitter @vishhell)