Dhoni revels under captaincy pressure

cricket blogs for Yahoo Cricket Columns

Call it plain luck or the X factor, M.S. Dhoni seems to have something
extra to offer when he dons the skipper's hat. Due credit to Anil
Kumble for the manner in which he has handled this side over the last
three series and it was only fitting Dhoni, who has seen tough
situations equally well in the shorter versions was handed over the
reins when the veteran was declared unfit for the final Test.

striking aspect of Dhoni's captaincy is his unruffled manner. When the
South African openers had survived the initial phase in the second
innings it looked like anybody's match but Dhoni backed his instincts
and persisted with the bowlers who he thought had a greater chance of
getting wickets.

For long, Virendar Sehwag has been an
under-utilised bowler. And the blows he struck at vital moments of the
match proved the kind of confidence Dhoni had instilled in a part time
bowler. I would have never thought of tossing the new ball to a spinner
when the match was hanging in balance.

Dhoni has this ability to
think out of the box. Sometimes it can make a captain look silly but in
his case he has been successful on more occasions than one. Right from
the day he took over as captain he has maintained a sage calm that one
does not normally associate with modern day captains.

By his own
admission Dhoni is not a natural leader and has never led a cricket
team at any level before he was handed charge of the Indian side for
the T20 world championship.

This makes his success more
fascinating. It is never easy to slip into the role of captain of the
Indian cricket team. It is a tough job that needs tremendous mental
make-up and Dhoni has proved on more than an occasion that he has it
him to last the distance.

Harbhajan Singh's return to form was
one of the biggest positives the team could take home from this drawn
series. He might still not be at his best, but in conditions that
favour his craft he has got a lot to offer. What I liked about his
approach was he gave the ball a lot more air than he has done in the
recent past and he was aptly rewarded.

To win a Test match,
especially at home, without the services of both Anil Kumble and Sachin
Tendulkar was commendable. It was the first Test since 1992 where India
had fielded a side with both missing out. Sourav Ganguly came to the
party at the right time and proved there is no substitute for
experience in the longer version. The right mix of experience and youth
won the match and one must not forget the contribution made by the
likes of Ishanth Sharma.

With the IPL around the corner it was
an important victory. If the result at Green Park was any different,
tongues would have never stopped wagging on how the team had lost due
to lack of focus. Now that the home record has been preserved and the
No. 2 position on the ICC Test chart secured it's time to sit back and
enjoy the rich entertainment IPL will throw up.

Republished with permission from The Asian Age