Dhoni: A leader or a manager?

A leader creates a way when there is none, while managers help navigate a defined path.

Dhoni has already catapulted to the league of the best captains India ever had. In a short career span of less than five years, he has seen fame and glory which can fall short to may be just Sachin Tendulkar. He is considered one of the coolest persons on the field and is counted as one of the best playing captains in world.

There were few times when he went wrong with the media. Extremely frank in his opinions, he is one among the minority in Sub continent players who can speak well (not commentary material but not an Inzy either). He is the man among boys and nobody has (had) any questions about it until recently.

The signs of crack started showing in IPL 2, when he lost his cool and some run out and stumping chances. His batting is no longer what he came in the team with. From a prolific boundary hitter, he became a nudger, a lot many times struggling to get a run a ball. His team went on to do well in IPL 2, but it was largely despite him and not because of him.

World cup started on a completely wrong foot, losing the first warm up match and Times of India making a big deal of something about Sehwag's injury. I still fail to see what the big deal was about (ok, I am dumb). While writing of this post, India is already out of contention in wc 2009 and are struggling in their third super eight game against South Africa with Dhoni and Yuvraj on crease.

And see, this is what happens in T20. not even a minute passed since I wrote my last line and Dhoni attempted an impossible run, Yuvraj was not even looking at the runner's end. Dhoni was duly sent back to the crease first and then to the pavilion. This was pure stupidity or nerve may be.

Back to the point of the post. T20 2009 saw India's early demise and all the fingers are being pointed at Dhoni's captaincy. With a team that is strongest on the paper is still relying on a couple of people to bail them out in every game. Dhoni is not even a shadow of his former self as a batsman. He is jumping, crawling, swinging but reaching nowhere. His lack of confidence showed when in all the chases all he seemed to try was rotate strike and expect the other players to do the heavy hitting. His captaincy has left enough gaping holes and he is being blasted from all the directions.

Is Dhoni really a great leader who transformed a bunch of misaligned players to put up a formidable line up that even Sachin Tendulkar feels is the best ever he has seen. Putting that completely on Dhoni would be gross injustice to the older captains especially Ganguly who actually nurtured a lot of players who are the key stars in the current line up.

Has Dhoni gotten far too much credit for the recent successes where he was leading team to victory just because he got a good team who could win matches without much needed from the captain. Has it been the case of a good manager, with a pretty strong team where all he needs to do was juggle them around. Taking this a bit further, is this the case of a 'wily' manager who actually removed all the uncomfortable elements (read Seniors) one by one so that he can reign supreme. While playing under other captains (Kumble) his performance seemed to dip considerably while it picked back up pretty well soon after he got the captaincy.

A lot of people in my generation would hate Dhoni for actively trying to drive seniors (trio) out of the team. I think they were on their way out anyway but he gave that slight nudge to initiate the fall. Of course, we still have Sachin playing because no one can drop him from team in India and expect to breathe easy next morning. However, this is a thing of past and he now has a new set of challenges to tackle. This is the first time since he took over as the captain when he is under pressure to perform as a player and as a captain. How well he comes out of it will define what he becomes in long run, a flash in the pan or a legend.

(India needs 25 off 10 now with 3 wickets in hand)

Comments (1)

He has shown good leadership qualities but not sure he is a great captain(eg: not promoting himself or Yuvraj ahead of Jadeja against england). Dhoni as a player under ganguly/dravid/kumble had the license to play freely withought any fear of failure which brought all the fame. But once he took over the captaincy the additional burden made him to play more responsibly which forced(self imposed) him to change his game(unfortunately does not suit him). Everybody was fine with this approach as long as the team was winning but once other team members failed in delivering Dhoni's limitations got highlighted(it will be interesting to see his strike rate over the past one year).
Im sure once the team returns to winning habits all will be forgotten and media will go gaga over him.