The series victory at the picturesque Dharamsala brings the curtains down on an eventful Indian home season. The season that has given the loyal Indian fans umpteen reasons to rejoice will now be archived.
It was not an ordinary home stretch where the lead spinner came out and spun a web around the opposition nor did a saviour arrive with a broad piece of wood and smack the opposition to submission.
Instead, this season witnessed a great exhibition of collective performances which ultimately catapulted the team to glory.
The most heartening aspect of the home season was the stepping up of the pace battery. They made sure that they were not mere sidekicks and instead rose above to set the tone.
Ravindra Jadeja finally coming into his own with the bat at crucial times during the fag end of the season and his ascendancy as the world’s premier bowler was nothing short of a miracle. Notwithstanding Ravi Ashwin’s failures with the bat against Australia, his returns with the bat and the ball throughout were stellar.
The review of this season would seem incomplete without the mention of Virat Kohli. The skipper notched up four double centuries across four consecutive series’ and redefined the term consistency.
MS Dhoni deserves credit for India’s rise
Major credit for this wonderful run must go to the team and the management. But fans would do well to remember an astute and grey-haired veteran who played a great role in transforming these hardworking prodigies to match-winners in their own right.
MS Dhoni’s role as a calm captain during the period of turmoil and transition will always remain understated.
Dhoni’s period of captaincy saw the modern giants of Indian cricket walk into the sunset. The onus of building the team and producing the same astounding results was quite a big ask. Instead, as Dhoni often stressed, he decided to stick with the process.
Potential match winners were identified and groomed. They were given ample time to find their feet in the Test circuit. All the while, the fact that India continued to remain a competitive outfit in the shorter formats is a testament to Dhoni’s captaincy.
But the scenario in the game’s most demanding format was in stark contrast. The team was constantly being bulldozed on foreign shores. Dhoni became the punching bag and was happy to remain so, for the greater cause was critical.
It would have been easier to play the victim card and blame the entire system for its failure to ensure a healthy supply of players. But Dhoni being Dhoni decided to take it upon himself and shoulder the blame.
Players begin to shine
With Dhoni’s stature and shadow guarding them, the newbies slowly turned into more experienced souls. When the media lamented the fact that Umesh Yadav had just pace and nothing else, Dhoni felt more time in the international circuit would teach him hard lessons which would hold him in good stead for the future.
When Ashwin and Jadeja were looked upon as mere CSK recruits, MS gave them the time and space they needed to evolve into world beaters. When Kohli was a toddler in the Test arena, lost in the wilderness, Dhoni handed him a long rope to help him find his way. That toddler is now King Kohli.
The long and consistent run the players were given has yielded rich dividends for Team India. It is intimidating to think about what more this set of players can accomplish because most of them are just entering the prime phases of their careers. One cannot be faulted for assuming that they are only going to flourish from here.
It was truly the calm demeanour of Dhoni that lent stability to the side even when the results were shaky. His belief in retaining a set of players, whom he considered would be the core of the team in the future, even when it meant his reputation as a passive captain would only grow, was truly selfless.
That being said, nothing can be taken away from the team itself. The team and the management had planned meticulously and worked tirelessly to achieve this feat. But it is also imperative to remember the faith that was entrusted upon this very unit by Dhoni.
The hallmark of the 35-year-old’s captaincy was built around his unflinching belief. The belief was not palpable when his expressionless face was flashed in televisions. Rather, it was reflected when he decided to stick with a set of players who are today world beaters.
Dhoni’s tenure as a Test captain might not be the most remarkable in terms of achievements (though he is still the most successful captain of India till date), however, it cannot be put on the back burner, simply because of the sheer impact it will have on the future of Indian cricket.
The results might not have been rosy when Dhoni was in charge but he would be mighty pleased that the seeds he planted have finally begun to bear fruit.