In 2007, some dismissed him as a fluke. Even after a few years, they still attributed it to luck. When the 0-8 Test overseas debacle happened, his detractors screamed that his career was finished.
But he rose from the ashes like a phoenix and thrashed Australia 4-0 in Tests and then lifted the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013.
In the recently concluded triangular tournament in the West Indies, he yet again won it for his team staying till the end and getting the required 15 runs off the last over with ease despite a hamstring problem.
There are many reasons why Indian captain MS Dhoni is a fantastic leader and on course to become one of the greats of all time…
1. Humble: In the 2008 Australia Test series, Anil Kumble led India to two draws, while Dhoni led India to two wins. After captaining the last Test, Dhoni was called to take the trophy. He could have stood there in triumph and taken all the credit.
But he immediately called Kumble, gave him the trophy and left the scene. Later when a reporter asked him a question starting with “Your team…,” Dhoni corrected him saying, “Kumble’s team… it’s still Kumble’s team…”
Have you seen how he takes a trophy, hands it over to the youngsters and then watches from the sidelines? If it’s easy to be calm during victory, then it’s tougher to do so in defeat. You may remember that when he lost the first IPL final, he called the entire Chennai Super Kings team into a huddle.
It’s no wonder that he won two IPLs after that.
One almost remembers some lines from Rudyard Kipling’s If…
If you can keep your head when all about you,
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you…
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same…
2. Unconventional: Why did Dhoni give the last overs of both the semi-final and final to Joginder Sharma in the 2007 T20 World Cup? Why did he give Ishant Sharma the 18th over in the final of the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy?
Sometimes his choices surprise you. Sometimes his field placements baffle you. If his unusual moves come out right once in a while, then you can attribute it for luck. But to fly in the face of convention for 6 years now shows that Dhoni is in fact an unconventional genius.
3. Leads by example: People underplay Dhoni’s role as an individual player. When Dhoni clicks with the bat, India wins, when it doesn’t, it usually falters.
Dhoni has already emerged as India’s greatest wicket-keeper in all forms of the game. He is already India’s foremost No. 7 Test batsman. He has been India’s premier ODI batsman for many years now. Not for nothing is he the world’s greatest finisher.
He is clearly a captain who leads from the front.
4. Stays in the moment: When former England captain Nasser Hussain listed Dhoni’s achievements and asked him “What next?” Dhoni just replied that he would focus on the next match which happened to be the West Indies tour.
He doesn’t dwell in the past or look to the future in anxiety. He lives in the moment. During the ICC Champions trophy final, Dhoni told his team not to look at the skies and think about rain saving them after a low total, but just concentrate on the game.
5. Pressure cooker wizard: How many times have you seen Dhoni lose his cool? It’s a very rare event indeed. That’s why when he does give a glare to any player, it always has the desired effect.
Many times a fan looks at the match situation and can tell what has to be done. The captain sometimes fails to do such a simple thing and that’s due to pressure. That rarely happens to Dhoni.
No matter how intense the pressure gets, Dhoni is always sure at himself. That shows in the decisions that he makes.
6. Results: Of course nothing succeeds like success and everyone respects a successful man. A captain who keeps winning non-stop will always get the admiration of his players and create doubt and apprehension in minds of the opposition.
7. Great manager: Dhoni can manage any situation and any player. He entered a team with a galaxy of superstars and he has survived them all. He can manage questions from the media and intense scrutiny.
He knows how to manage players young and old. He knows how to get the best out of everyone. Dhoni’s leadership style could well make a good case study for a management institute.
The author is a Bengaluru-based journalist and blogger.
He blogs at http://sunilrajguru.com/