That Top of the World Feeling ….

Knock Knock

Who’s There ?

Misba

Misba Who ?

Misba 5 runs .

Just for a brief while yesterday, surely, an old nightmare came back to haunt a few people. A young man named Sharma ran in to bowl to a determined, possessed Pakistan batsman . Thats when the comparisons ended. That was 21 years ago. I was older then. I feel younger now .

Joginder Sharma ran in to bowl after a brief chat with his skipper (“a slower one”, presumably?) and Sreesanth settled in at 45 …

A few moments later, India was cradling cricket’s latest child. World Champions of the 1st Twenty20 World Cup.

They say that there is nothing you should fear more than people who are scared. Or wary.
Put it down to the format or the exuberance of youth or a combination of both but fear was never the main emotion on display. Right from the time of the bowl-out, to the victories over England, South Africa, Australia and back to the finals, the Unchained Melody has been the theme.

Twenty20 with an India-Pakistan final has captured a vast market. That part is unarguable. Its also true though, that the format itself leaves itself open to the cynics. Justifiably. Sixes and fours rain. Bowlers feel good with 7ish economy rates. Batsmen don’t value wickets. Building an innings is almost a sin. Almost each toss has the losing skipper saying “conditions won’t change much”. With 3 hour match durations those are understatements. Things move lightning quick. Dot balls are gold. Risk is not a four letter word.

In such a scenario, how tough is it being fearless ? And yet, M S Dhoni has been outstanding. Whether it be the simplicity of choosing the bowlers in a high pressure bowl-out (lets not talk about what thats doing in a cricket match!), or his selections or the batting orders or the belief he has shown in his men, he has barely put a foot wrong. Applauding (even miffed, though sincere) efforts in the field, keeping interaction with bowlers during overs to the minimum, having the courage with field placements in tight games, he has shown the ability to multi-task in clearly high pressure games. Remember this : prior to the World Cup India had played only one International Twenty20 game. MS Dhoni had been keeping for two and a half months of the English tour incessantly. Its been an outstanding beginning.

But, and this part is important – its only a beginning. Twenty20 is NOT the real deal. In all of Dhoni’s success are a number of gambles. And as he’ll find out, fortune does not always favour the brave. Nor does the media. We’ll leave that for later though. For now, to him and his team , a huge Well Done !

Earlier post on Dhoni here

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14 thoughts on “That Top of the World Feeling ….

  1. aye Sfx, but what this victory does is give MSD more latitude and an extended honeymoon period with the media.

    That the guy is a good cricket brain is beyond a doubt ( and has made believers of die hard skeptics like yours truly) but his biggest challenge lies ahead.

    Not against Australia or Pakistan but marshaling three ex captains and all time greats of the game in the longer formats.

    Do this successfully ( and Yograj Singh finds a good zipper for his pie hole) and it should be a wonderful ride from here on.

    Don’t and the very “dignitaries” who were oh so happy to get their mugs next to yours will be preparing the guillotine.

    Cheers

  2. Homer,

    In my year end assessment, while filling up my assessment form, there’s a BOLD line printed – ‘please don’t mention last year’s numbers – stick to this year’s number only’.

    Now if I am judged and I would believe most employees will be in the same boat, on the basis of my current performance and not my past performance, why should a cricketer be different?

    You are talking of the so called ‘dignitaries’ taking MSD to the guillotine in case of failure. So whats wrong with that. They have paid the team 8 crores for this win right.
    I am not saying that the captain should be under pressure of being sacked in every game he loses. Give MSD a long enough run but it’s performance – consistent performance that matters and if MSD can’t give it, the ‘dignitaries’ have to sack him.. Will that be unfair? I don’t think so

    cheers

  3. Rahul,

    They haven’t paid the team 8 crores to win. It was after the team won that the prize money was announced.

    Now,performance matters but what will matter more is how the big three integrate with the team and how Dhoni leads them. It will be a difficult balancing act not because of inflated egos but because of the stature of the men Dhoni leads.

    Of course he needs to be assessed on performance -it will be asinine not to do so.But leading the big 3 will be a test of his character and captaincy and it is here, and not his performance, that could lead Dhoni into trouble and this is where the “dignitaries” come in.

    Cheers

  4. Bringing “the 3” into the picture (at this stage) and imagining repurcussions of failure shows the pressure that Indian captaincy brings with it. It does not however, in my view, do justice to any of the “big 3” nor indeed to Dhoni.

    A change of leadership at any level, brings with it changes, and a certain degree of uncertainty. Dhoni’s shown in even the short stint that he likes exuding his authority. (Remember that game where Dinesh Karthik was keeping – Dhoni was at cover, i think – and DK began to run up to the bowler to offer a piece of advice. MSD was quick to ask him to go right back). There’s a number of ways you can look at an incident like that (particularly given the way we microanalyse). Winning makes us look at it the right way. Thats all that matters.

  5. 🙂 nicely written sfx….

    I agree its given Dhoni an extended honeymoon. The question is – how long? And more importantly – how long will Dhoni wish to put up with the press after that honeymoon?

  6. Roxi,

    Wouldn’t it be fair to assume that apart from stray “stop gap” arrangements, most captaincy assignments are long term assignments / investments. The three previous incumbents – Sachin Tendulkar, Saurav Ganguly and Rahul Dravid are all cricketers of extremely high merit – and all with a limited shelf life in terms of captaincy.
    Everyone agrees about Dhoni (and am sure wishes well) but low expectations are a lot easier to handle than the bar thats now been set.

    (As an aside, 1985, two years after winning the world cup, Kapil Dev was not only not India’s captain, he was even dropped for playing a rash shot for a Test match….)

    We’re a fickle nation – Dhoni has a wonderful start and a lot of cricket left in him, but that “definitely” in your comment is a word I would be careful about…

    Cheers

  7. @sfx

    Very well said. One cannot be sure about anything especially when that “thing” is related to cricket, moreover related to Indian Cricket.
    Agree, it is a preconceive opinion of mine.

    But, I am relating that “long time investment” to ODIs and Tests as well. Dhoni got the captaincy only after dravid gave it up. It does not mean that it is “stray stop gap arrangements”.

    What I liked most about him is that he care only those things that are under his control. Rest everything is trivial to him. He gives importance to only those who matter to him. Team-mates being the first in the list. Thats the way Indian captain should be. We have already got examples. Ganguly succeeded only because he always backed up his players. Irrespective of the results, he focussed more on building the team and getting the right team composition.
    Dravid failed only due to his inability to focus only on cricket, not to those silly internal affairs of BCCI.

    So, in the end I feel like Dhoni will “definitely” serve for india for a long time but again its just my assumption taking into account Dhoni’s current attitude.
    Attitude may change( as happened in ganguly’s case when he was stripped of captaincy).
    Likewise Dhoni’s attitude may also change.

    To conclude, it will be better of saying Dhoni “is supposed to” serve for India for a long time.

    🙂

    I hope this time I got it correct?

  8. Hi Roxi ,

    I don’t agree with the Dravid statement at all – but as far as Dhoni goes , like we’ve discussed – its a nice start and time will tell. A bit of maturity from us (and by that I mean fans and media) in terms of expectations can only help.

    Cheers.

  9. Reason I said those words about Dravid is because I always felt that at the time when Chappell was in force, Dravid always followed his words, sometimes even blindly.

    That reflected in their meetings with BCCI officials.

    Chappell wanted India to follow Australia, it cannot happen at this level. What we learn during childhood remain for ever. People cannot change at later stage. Still Chappell wanted to change them , Dravid followed him.

    Thats just my perspective.
    I may be wrong. Buts thats how I feel.

  10. Roxi,

    My disagreement starts with your view that Dravid was a failure. The records suggest otherwise. I have written my views extensively on the blog …Please do read them as and when.

    Facts are that we did well as a Test outfit and had a poor run as a one day team under Dravid’s watch. A mixed bag of results.

    As far as the rest is concerned – the bits about the interaction with the BCCI that you mention in your comments – are purely speculative.

    Either way, we are way away from the origin of this thread. Dravid as captain is immaterial at the moment – its what Dhoni does from here that matters – and (one more time) – Good luck to him !

  11. SFX,

    Yeah, we are deviating from the topic.

    I must read your other post relating to Dravid and will try to understand your point of view. Their is no point polluting this post with words not even close to any type of relation with the original one.
    Sorry my fault.

    🙂

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