'Instinctive Dhoni gets the one-day game' - Dravid
Rahul Dravid believes MS Dhoni's "instinctive" style of captaincy is perfectly suited to one-day cricket, and helps him "bring the best out of himself and his team". Dravid was speaking on Contenders, an ESPNcricinfo special programme building up to the upcoming World Cup in Australia and New Zealand. Dravid's co-panelist on the show, former South African captain Graeme Smith said it helps Dhoni that he "doesn't have to prepare too much" as opposed to Test cricket and his "instincts come into play" in the ODI format.
Dhoni will be aiming to becoming the third captain after Clive Lloyd and Ricky Ponting to successfully defend a World Cup title when India's campaign begins in Adelaide on February 15 against Pakistan. Only four members from the 15-man squad that won the 2011 World Cup at home have been selected but Dravid believes there is enough experience in the group for Dhoni to call upon.
"India's performances in one-day cricket have improved, just as their Test form has actually nosedived," Dravid said. "It is a good side as well. Even though it may not have the experience of some of the players from last time, I think they have enough experience. Some of these players are match-winners.
"He (Dhoni) is very good in the one-day game, he gets the one-day game. It suits him because I think he doesn't have to plan long term like over the course of a Test match. Because it's 50 overs, it's set for you, his instinctive style of captaincy brings out the best in him and the best in the team with that kind of instinctive decision making, which you sometimes need under pressure."
Dhoni has led India in ODIs since 2007. He will go into the World Cup as the most-experienced captain in the tournament and Dravid is of the view that Dhoni has developed his style of captaincy based on the learnings he has had in the job.
"He's realised that India's death bowling isn't flash," he said. "So instead of trying to go onto the same path all the time, he is trying to mix and match and change it around, play five bowlers, bowl the spinners in the Powerplays rather than the faster bowlers. I think he's been very clever about that. I think he's secure in one-day cricket in his own performances, he's one of the greatest finishers in the game today, he's tremendous under pressure, so I think that makes him feel much more comfortable about his leadership in one-day cricket as well."
Smith, who came across Dhoni several times as captain of South Africa, said Dhoni has the advantage of having "more to work with" when he is leading the team at home. India's overseas form in recent times has been patchy in limited-overs cricket too with series defeats in South Africa and New Zealand before a win in England.
"His spinners play more of a role here, conditions are set up for the style of play his team plays," Smith said. "In other parts of the world it is almost about finding a way to win, you need to adapt to playing at the Wanderers or the Oval for example. I think those are the challenges he faces with the current team and the dynamic of the team. He has a very strong batting line up. He will always perform well in this tournament, I think he will lead by example. The key is he doesn't have to prepare too much in one-day cricket, in Test cricket you have to kind of plan, ok, that's the kind of bowler I want to bowl etc. Where as here, his instincts come in. He will win India games by himself."