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Monday, April 04, 2011

World Cup 2011 - Captain Cool lives his dream

Dean Jones had commented that MS Dhoni must have been dreaming if he thought that he could win the World Cup with this team. MSD not only dreamt the World Cup win but also planned very well to execute his dream at Mumbai. April 2nd will now appear in the same league as June 25th (in 1983).

The country has not stopped celebrating two days after the final was won by the Indians. The news-channels were talking about the victory to the players, celebrities, politicians and whoever else they could lay their hands on. Looks like this is going to be a long party for now.

Dhoni will realize that all the hoopla around the win will die down quickly and life will be back to normal in a week's time (when IPL4 starts). But, this is his and the team's moment of glory - they have deservedly won the World Cup by beating most of the teams that mattered - Australia, Sri Lanka, Pakistan (all from the opposite group, coincidentally) - in the Knock-out matches. Though they lost to the Proteas in the group matches, one can argue that it was a group match and also that they lost in the last over. A tie against England was the other result that they would probably have liked to better.

Back to the captain then - all the tournament, he was being chided for one reason or the other. Whether it was for supporting Piyush Chawla or bringing on Ashish Nehra for the last over against South Africa or not selecting Ashwin until the last group match or promoting Yusuf Pathan higher the order. All these moves probably did not work but it was a matter of time when Dhoni's tactics started working. As mentioned earlier, it takes courage to admit that he made a mistake and that was exactly what MSD mentioned about his selection of Nehra over Ravichandran Ashwin in the semis. Similarly, his selection of Sreesanth and promotion of himself in the final were tricks that worked well in the final result.

His batting was not upto his high standards and that was good enough for all to criticize him - to be frank, most of the matches he batted in the earlier stages, there was no time to settle down. Yes, he failed in the critical stage against Australia and Pakistan but Dhoni knew that the big knock was around the corner. For a man who was the No.1 in ODI rankings, it was a matter of having the time at crease that would bring back the runs.

Dhoni was quick to thank the golden quartet of Indian cricket - Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid, Anil Kumble - for the transformation that has happened. The sense of the occasion was not lost to the young captain. MSD knows that his team is now responsible to pass the baton to the next generation and continue the Indian domination of cricket for time to come. Dhoni has more examinations that will come his way - hurdles that will test the true character of the team and himself. As Geoff Boycott mentioned in one of the shows, for the next four years wherever the team goes, they will be called as the ICC World Champions.

How the team will deliver under the continuous pressure of the crown will determine the amount of time they will stay on top. One thing is for sure, they have a captain who knows exactly what steps to take further now. Dhoni may not be with his coach, Gary Kirsten, any longer but the lessons learnt during the association will come of use. He will have to see the retirements of the legends (Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman) do not impact the Indian team - this will be the next biggest challenge on hand. Knowing Dhoni, he will relish the challenge and come up with his own path to tackle it.          
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