India v Australia 2008-09 / Features

India v Australia, 4th Test, Nagpur, 5th day

Dhoni carries forward Ganguly's flame

At the start of the millennium, Ganguly started the journey to "raise Indian cricket's profile overseas". In so many ways, Dhoni is the best man to carry forward the Ganguly flame

Cricinfo staff

November 10, 2008

Comments: 35 | Text size: A | A


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Exactly eight years to the day since he first captained India in a Test, against Bangladesh in Dhaka, Sourav Ganguly marshalled the resources one last time. The ninth Australian wicket had fallen and the fielders were hovering around Cameron White and Mitchell Johnson with Harbhajan Singh and Amit Mishra having scripted a dramatic post-lunch collapse. It was a remarkable gesture from Mahendra Singh Dhoni, and it said much about how quickly he has grown into the job. A less secure man would have wanted to hog the limelight, but by ceding space to one of Indian cricket's all-time greats for a couple of overs, Dhoni showed just how aware he was of the bigger picture.

It came through in the tactics he employed as well. There had been scathing comments made about the 8-1 fields and wide bowling on the third morning, but there was tacit acknowledgement from Ricky Ponting that he would have loved it if his bowlers could have exercised similar control. Dhoni may have re-ignited debates about the spirit of cricket and a win-at-all-costs mentality, but as far as the team was concerned, eight wickets for 166 runs in a full day on a batsman-friendly pitch was nothing to sneeze at.

"He has that extra bit of luck you need," said Ganguly later, and he wasn't being uncharitable. There were moments in the match when Dhoni's leadership appeared bereft of direction, but then something would happen that made you forget what had preceded it. So it was on Monday afternoon with Matthew Hayden flailing away at the bowling with the air of a man who refused to countenance defeat. Runs were being leaked at an alarming rate and there were no close catchers for either Hayden or Michael Hussey as Dhoni concentrated on cutting off the fours.

Then, he threw the ball to Mishra. The game changed. His fourth ball from round the wicket was a perfectly pitched topspinner that reared up like many a Kumble special had over the previous two decades. All Hussey could do was lob to slip, and the mini-crisis was over. Hayden then tried to improvise once too often against Harbhajan and after that, the outcome of the match was in no doubt.

The early belligerence from Australia, and Hayden in particular, had pushed Dhoni on to the defensive quickly. Ishant Sharma, the standout bowler of the series, bowled to an 8-1 field against Simon Katich, and had seven on the off side for Hayden. But with plenty of runs being surrendered behind the wicket, Zaheer's opening spell of six overs cost 44 runs.

Again, Dhoni came up with the right change. Stroke of genius or plain luck, Harbhajan's arrival at the bowling crease changed things. Dhoni put down a chance off the second ball he bowled, but there was an element of recklessness in Hayden's approach that made India believe that playing the patience game would bring about a breakthrough.

India managed just 21.3 overs in that first session, and the shadow cast by dismal over-rates that caused Ponting to take his eye off the ball on the fourth evening appeared to affect Dhoni too. With Virender Sehwag and Harbhajan bowling offspin in tandem, Hayden was only too happy to tee off, especially with the variety of sweeps that caused such devastation back in 2001.

Dhoni though never loses his cool. The field went out, the game seemed to drift and then Mishra came on. It was almost as though Australia had been lulled into a false sense of security and then struck with an upper-cut. Within minutes, the fielders were swarming around the bat and the men-on-the-rope tactics quickly forgotten. Mishra was far too much for the tail to handle, and there was just enough uneven bounce to make Harbhajan dastardly difficult to play.

 
 
A less secure man would have wanted to hog the limelight, but by ceding space to one of Indian cricket's all-time greats for a couple of overs, Dhoni showed just how aware he was of the bigger picture
 

"There will be greater tests for MS, especially when he takes the team abroad," said Ganguly afterwards. It was a quiet reminder to everyone of just how hapless India once were when they left home comforts behind. But though Dhoni may not quite have been Safe Hands behind the stumps in this game, there's enough intuition and spark in his leadership to suggest that Indian cricket's future could be very bright indeed.

At the start of the millennium, Ganguly started the journey to "raise Indian cricket's profile overseas". For 10 minutes this afternoon just before a famous triumph was clinched, the past and future were intertwined. In so many ways, Dhoni is the best man to carry forward the Ganguly flame. These could well be the best of times.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by GeorgeAndrews on (November 13, 2008, 3:00 GMT)

Don't ever compare Dhoni with Ganguly and don't underestimate Dhoni's genius by attributing his success to luck. Dhoni is level headed composed individual, unlike Ganguly who was temperamental. Dhoni is not to carry Ganguly's flame but he has his own niche to carve. Dhoni thinks differently and takes intelligent risks.

Posted by Rajesh. on (November 11, 2008, 15:05 GMT)

Agree with Renjit...... numbers do not always give the bigger and accurate picture. Ganguly was a great Captain not just because of the number of victories, there was more to it. Similarly Anil Kumble's contribution as Captain in Australia was one heck of a brave performance though the series was lost in numbers........ Kumble would have been a fantastic and more successful skipper if he had had the oppurtunity to lead India much earlier in his career.... But then Saurav was doing a good job & no one else had a chance then......... Dhonis is just starting (forget the numbers again, 3 out of 3 ), let's appreciate what he has done so far but for the moment let's keep it at that rather than hype it too much and then criticise him very harshly when he loses

Posted by littlemaestro on (November 11, 2008, 12:56 GMT)

Firstly, Adieu Dada. But no worries, you have passed the flame to the right person. So coming to the crux of the matter Mahi is here to stay and stay as the Indian Skipper. One of the keys to survival as the captain of the Indian Cricket team is not just knowing that you have to survive, but learning the survival techniques and effectively using the same. And that's precisely what Mahi has done. The gesture to let Dada captain was not an empty one, a great one nevertheless, with some insight we can see that this gesture will keep Dhoni on the positive side of the Indian media for at least a short while. We have confidence in you Dhoni. You are indeed the right man for the job.

Posted by ssm2407 on (November 11, 2008, 12:53 GMT)

Congratulations to India on a fantastic series win. Eveyone played their part - it was so heartening to see such an all round cohesive team effort where every member played their part, so comprehensively outplay what is still the best team in world cricket. The best series performance by a India I can remember for a very long time. Long may it continue & lets hope they dish out some of the same medicine to England !

Posted by IndianCricLover on (November 11, 2008, 9:30 GMT)

"Dada" has been one of the best captains India ever had and we cannot have a better person than Dhoni to don his mantle. The similarities beween the two are endless and India sure flourished under the two. Lastly, we should not forget the contribution of Jumbo for the brief time he donned the mantle of captaincy. That would be cruel.

Posted by Dadagiri2011 on (November 11, 2008, 6:17 GMT)

This is in response to Lallumowdi's post. Lets give the devil his due. Ganguly brought about a change in the attitude for India and the team prospered under him. He won tests in West Indies and Australia, series in England and Pakistan. This was much more than what the country could do consistantly in the entire history before that. There were over seas victories in between but never did Indian team play consistantly well before that. So dont just delve into numbers and make your point. Numbers do not always give you the bigger picture.

Cheers

Renjit

Posted by sdpak on (November 11, 2008, 4:48 GMT)

No Indian Captain has so far achieved a good record to be proud off. Steve Waugh has an outstanding 72% success record, Ponting despite losing here has a 68% record. Ganguly who won only 21 out of the 49 test matches he has captained, which is just a 43% success is being posed a great captain mainly because the previous captains couldn't achieve even this. Only time will tell whether Dhoni would emulate Steve Waugh's 72%. He has started off well with three out of three. Dhoni's captaincy will be tested once we tour South Africa (where we haven't won a series yet). But as responsibility increases, Dhoni's game improvises with a lot of maturity. This is a good sign for Indian cricket.

Posted by paku11 on (November 11, 2008, 4:06 GMT)

I was re-reading the John Wright book called the indian summers and it gave me his insight into things work within the indian cricket. also, how things panned out since his time and after that is what i believe as the change in the outlook of the present team india. mind you few things still remain. how ever, you are only as good as your team and as long as dhoni remembers this, he'll take team india far, as he has already demonstrated. same was the unlying fundamental that saurav used, giving pride and freedom to guys like harbhajan etc. I bet bhajji will do anything dhone asks for. just an air of caution for dhoni htough. we dont want him to burn out playing too much. every now and then parthiv should be played to give dhoni time off from keeping duties , while he still leads the team.

Posted by zidane617 on (November 11, 2008, 2:40 GMT)

As a Sri Lankan I've always loved the way Ganguly led his team, it was tough but positve and no nonsense way of doing it. It reminds me of the way our own captain cool Arjuna Ranatunga led Sri Lanka to WC wins and many victories. But doing it in "my way" can be costly and would have many enemies as in the case of both Ganguly and Ranatunga. With Saying that Dhoni is by far my favorite indian player right now and he got this fighting spirit as a captain we only saw in Ganguly. Future of indian cricket won't have Big names lists like Tendulkar, Ganguly, Dravid, Laxman but fighting youngsters that would be competitive as a team.

Posted by Saibaskar on (November 11, 2008, 2:26 GMT)

The same team plays 4 matches but only those 2 games which Dhoni captains the team succeeds. Team without Dhoni makes heavy weather of Ajantha Mendis in the tests, then incomes Dhoni and inspite of Mendis factor India wins the series. For me commonsense suggests that there is more to Dhoni than mere luck. It is just that none of us (including the experts) are in the same plane as him to understanding his winning recipe.

Posted by inamkiran on (November 11, 2008, 2:11 GMT)

Congratulations to India team!

Posted by Kennard on (November 11, 2008, 1:22 GMT)

I know India cricket will be ok with Dhoni now in control, but I will miss Ganguly, he's the reason I look India's cricket. Although I'm a West Indian I enjoy looking at him batting. Good luck Ganguly, you surely will be missed.

Posted by dhillon28 on (November 11, 2008, 1:10 GMT)

First things first yenjvoy1, you say that we should not get carried away with Sehwag as he only plays well on flat pitches, but you should note that he got a 150 and a solid half century in Adelaide in only his 2nd test back from a long absence. Then he also got a 200* in Sri lanka against arguably the greatest ever debut bowling prodigy Ajantha Mendis comined with Muralidaran. No mean feat, so in summary Sehwag has achieved exactly what your saying he needs to i.e. dealt with best pace attack in best pace conditions in Aus and dealt with the best spin attack in one of best spin conditions Sri lanka...far from a flat track bully. Combine this with a 300 of 278 balls and an excellent home series against Aus at an exceptional strike rate, we're probably witnessing one of the leanest patches (given th amount and rate at which he scores) we'll see for a long time in test cricket. Especially as an opener because by scoring many and quickly he leaves his team with maximum opportunity to win.

Posted by ChuckingMuraliMakesMeSick on (November 11, 2008, 0:30 GMT)

Congratulations India. Far too good for Australia - when playing in India. A word of caution though, 8-1 field settings are detrimental to the game and cannot be pursued in the long term. It is the new 'Bodyline'. Dhoni has an attack at his disposal that is the envy of most international captains, both in quality and flexibility, although a third paceman will be required in many instances overseas. It will be interesting to see India's tactics against England - do they produce a pitch that makes for a result (hopefully get a win), then provide batting paradises and set 8-1 fields? Looking to the future, it will be interesting to see Dhoni's tactics on more bowler-friendly pitches. It is early days in Dhoni's reign but he does seem quite conservative as a skipper. He is also going to have to deal with the issue confronting all test captains - OVER RATES!

Posted by MohanB on (November 10, 2008, 21:36 GMT)

The best of times it most certainly is. Dhoni's golden run as the captain started with the T20 championship in SA and continued with the subsequent triumphs in the CB series in Oz, the ODI series in SL, and now this - the mother-of-all 2-0 win over the world champtions. Let's ride on this wave, while it lasts - and hope and pray that it lasts at least until and including the 2011 World Cup.

The stars of the series - Ishant, Sehwag, Gambhir and Dhoni himself - will likely form the fulcrum of Team India for the coming years in all three forms of the game. Ladies and Gentlemen - rise and salute the new Fab Four!

Posted by jesseraiders on (November 10, 2008, 20:44 GMT)

First of all, congratulations to India, Dhoni and Sourav Ganguly on a fabulous career. So far, Dhoni's captaincy has been superb but there is one small glitch that is has me cringing. Ganguly was always quick to be gracious towards the oppostion but so far, Dhoni has been very selfish and yesterday again failed to pay tribute to the losing side. This does not represent the Indian way.

Posted by davedave on (November 10, 2008, 17:54 GMT)

Mr LalluMowdi the article is about the challenge of captaincy. you have mentioned 4 wins and 4 losses for Dravid that includes winning against the pathetic westindies team okay. You can also defend that India's win in England that was because of individual performance when Sachin and Ganguly encountered the 3rd day doddgy morning session and of course Zaheer khan's outstanding bowling. Dravid deserved captaincy and he was not captain's material that is why he resigned his position within 2 years. Any how let us wait and see how Dhoni will perform as captain for long run.

Posted by beadyi on (November 10, 2008, 17:46 GMT)

People are saying Dhoni will have trouble when Sachin, VVS et al retire .. hasn't Ricky just had some of that? After all, all he had to do when in trouble was toss the ball to Warney - and all Dhoni's going to have to do is toss the ball to Bhaji, Mishra, "hairodynamic", Zaheer, Varinder,.. and batting? Vijay, Ghambir - come on, we're looking at the new number one's (and this is a saffa talking)

Posted by Sudipta_Rakshit on (November 10, 2008, 17:40 GMT)

This is in reply to the comments of "I am disappointed at the amount of fictional nonsense that you write about Ganguli. .......Hopefully you will .. at statistics. Posted by LalluMowdi

Just another envious southern/or up guy who cannot take Ganguly's fame and ability compared to Dravid. Just as what record you are talking about?? Ganguly took India to the world cup final and Dravid had the worst record in Indian cricket history in World cup-not even qualified to the second round-how great is that?? Statistics does not always tell the truth. Remember Kapil Dev had 300 runs against Zimbabwe in world cup-a match saving run where all the biggies got out. Th team may be Zimbabwe, but without Kapil's score India would not win world cup in 1983.

In test matches too Ganguly had the most winning record outside India. So learn to appreciate who are great. It is not the time to say "Ganguly is no match for Dhoni". Ganguly is declared one of the most successful captain in Indian cricket histor

Posted by eZoha on (November 10, 2008, 17:40 GMT)

To LalluMowdi's post on November 10 2008, 15:50 PM GMT - Before Ganguly's era, India played a lot of matches against weak teams - Zimbabwe, New Zealands, Sri Lanka under different captains. They could not achieve what Ganguly achieved. More importantly, it's the transformation of the overall confidence of team when playing overseas that helps Ganguly the captain stand above all.

Posted by skuller on (November 10, 2008, 16:50 GMT)

It turned out to be a wise decision from Ganguly. He was at his best when he left and probably the best was the best way to leave just like macgrath and Warne did. A fariytale farewell. My salute to him for the way he made a team out of a group of talentend individual players. The whole of India will be mourning with tears of joy for a change. Dhoni will have sterner tests to come. He will have a lesser talented team at his disposal sometime in the future either due to injuries or retirements and thats when we will know what he is made of. But rest assured the team is in safe hands now for sure.

Posted by 9874561230 on (November 10, 2008, 16:18 GMT)

dhoni is reembling gnguly.ganguly was the most profitable captain .the young dhoni is also th same.ganguly's 2003 world cuprunners&dhoni's 2020 winning team or ganguly's sucess against england & srilanka in england(ganguly's removal of tshirt)or dhoni's victory over australia in australia.

a plant is said to be a plant if it have roots or leaves

likeways you could never see a record book without dada " long live dada"-s.krishna(krishnasomanathan@rocketmail.com)

Posted by LalluMowdi on (November 10, 2008, 15:50 GMT)

I am disappointed at the amount of fictional nonsense that you write about Ganguli. Under Ganguli, India won just 5 tests overseas and lost 9. That exludes tests played against Zimbabwe or Bangladesh. Gnaguli as a captain was a rank failure overseas as compared to Dravid's record of 4 wins and 4 losses, excluding Zim and Bnagladesh.

Ganguli as a captain is no match for Dhoni. In fact excluding Zimbabwe and Bangladesh , Ganguli has a higher loss % in tests than Dravid. In ODIs , Dravid as captain has a far superior record than Ganguli.

Hopefully you will take a careful look at statistics.

Posted by yenjvoy1 on (November 10, 2008, 14:47 GMT)

Dhoni has been very lucky, but I have my doubts about his longevity in the Test captaincy seat after the current middle order goes. Soon there will be no Tendulkar, Dravid or Laxman to pull India's chestnuts out of the fire, and we have seen how the entire lineup comes under pressure, even at home, after Sehwag gets out. Remember that Dhoni does not have a test century to his name yet, and does not really have the technique to score many of those. He is a good limited overs player, but needs to prove himself in Tests yet, in my opinion. Also, those who are loving Sehwag at the moment, remember that all his big scoring this year has been on flat tracks at home - abroad he's got one hundred in Australia and thats it. Lets keep things in perspective.

Posted by ArchitK on (November 10, 2008, 14:39 GMT)

Dhoni has and will always be Captain Cool.It isn't that he has never faced media pressure as ODI captain.Yes. I do agree that Test matches are a completely different ball game but then it does come down to having the right kind of attitude,dosen't it?Yes,Dravid and Tendulkar never rose to the expectations that a billion people possessed as captains but the pivotal difference between those 2 and Dhoni is that Dhoni's performance has escalated dramatically since his being appointed as captain.This is most surprising for an indian captain as they are mostly always incessantly burdened with the hopes of a billion cricket crazy people.Its almost as if he enjoys captaining the side and believe me although he will also have his share of ups and downs MS Dhoni will usher in a completely new age of dominance in Indian cricket.

Posted by CricketisMyPassion on (November 10, 2008, 14:32 GMT)

Baton is getting passed from the one who started the revolution to the one who has shown he can possibly fill those boots. The gesture of letting Ganguly captain the side in the last stages indicates Dhoni can blossom into a leader of men and handle the seniors sensitively.

The 2-0 win is a deserving farewell gift to Anil Kumble and Saurav Ganguly who have been (with the other three of the Famous Five) the bulwark of India cricket in the last one decade.

Well done Dhoni! Thank you Anil! Thank you Saurav! Farewell Kumble! Farewell Ganguly! You have done Indian cricket proud and millions happy many times in the past one and half decade. May you have a happy future...

Posted by RSG476 on (November 10, 2008, 13:33 GMT)

While I wish Dhoni well and hope that the Indian team scales greater heights, I also want Cricinfo and the fans to be a bit cautious in going overboard. Perhaps Dhoni will prove us wrong, but his tests will come when the chips are down, perhaps overseas, when the media and the fans will ask for his blood and his head. How he handles that pressure, in addition to cricket, will set him apart. While he shows great promise, we all remember how Dravid never fulfilled his promise as a captain, or how Tendulkar fell apart as one. Dhoni may have the insouicance needed to marshall a team, but it would be interesting to see how he reacts when the media and Cricinfo gun for him, not to mention the fans. His test will lie in those worst of times.

Posted by ganesh_kb on (November 10, 2008, 13:01 GMT)

With all due respect to Dhoni and his tactics, (he sure seems best suited for the job), one will have to say that he's been lucky with the talent at his disposal at all times and how collectively they've performed at any time.. Ganguly very much rightly said that bigger tests await him in series abroad.. One can only imagine whether Dhoni would have been able to emulate Kumble in the way he deftly handled the whole Sydney saga.. time will tell!

Posted by patronpedru on (November 10, 2008, 12:45 GMT)

At this juncture, i guess the Indian board needs to be more fore-sighted on how to handle MS Dhoni. No doubt he is an exceptional talent for India, but wouldnt it be a bit too much to assign with the total workload at all the levels? I mean, wicket-keeping in ODI, T20 & Tests, Batting in ODI, T20 & Tests and also Captaincy in the forms? The Board needs to remember that MS Dhoni too is a mortal human being and is bound to dis-intergret at some point of time, which if happens, will leave Indian Cricket in chaos & total re-transition, which is not advisable for a team aspiring to climb to the top and maintain its supremacy. When a recession for such a great talent approaches, the board has to be ready with a buffer to deal with it wisely. Virender Sehwag, i would rather say, would be an ideal option to handle the less demanding ODI & T20 captaincy. He has alraedy shown his nack for captaincy in the way he dealt with & performed in IPL Dare Devils team. Advisable esp; on tough overseas

Posted by HarishVS on (November 10, 2008, 12:40 GMT)

The next ten years from here well will be the best of times for Team India and we could see them take on the position of No.1 Team in all forms of cricket under Dhoni's captainship. Dhoni is a rarest boon to Indian Cricket. And he will go on to become one of the best captains or players ever to have graced the game of cricket..

Posted by Matricfail on (November 10, 2008, 12:38 GMT)

Ganguly was always a great leader for Indian Cricket, It's him who started the major face lifting of Team India. I am sure he will be badly missed after he is gone. We can debate till death whether his retirement, at this, time was right or wrong but I am happy that he ended on a high note (Avg ~54) silencing all the cynics. As far as Dhoni is concerned he has already shown what a mature and committed cricketer he is by Escorting Kumble on his shoulders on his last outing and showing his respect to Ganguly by giving him one last chance to lead. Both were amazing gestures and took by surprise to everybody watching live on TV.

Is he great yet or not, Only time can tell. He has a big responsibility to groom young raw talent in Rohit, Raina, Badri, Robin etc. Which Ganguly did with brilliant adeptness. But Dhoni is a fighter and is very very balanced. All the success and Stats Dhoni has had definitely point us to the second Dawn of Indian Cricket. Good luck to MSD & a painful bye to Dada

Posted by striker_force on (November 10, 2008, 12:20 GMT)

Amen ! I thought Ganguly captaining was gr8 gesture and I thought he really enjoyed it !:)

Posted by RaviNarla on (November 10, 2008, 12:13 GMT)

Curtains down and it was one of the greatest victories India had. Ganguly will cherish this moment for ever. A first innings 85, a famous last inning duck and a win the end to sign off the career in style. It was a very nice gesture from Dhoni by allowing Ganguly to Captain before he stepped of the holy boundary one last time. After winning the trophy in Australia, he gave it to the team to lift it and this time he had given it to Kumble. What a fine human being understanding the values of team, players and the moments they would cherish. He has been the Man for crisis with a Midas touch who does not want to hog the limelight. Everyone in the team contributed to the success of this series and such is the work Dhoni extracts out of his team mates. It would have been fitting if Anil too had played the last match. Congrats !!! Dhoni Congrats !!! Indian team. Great victory. Keep it going.

Posted by balbir2008 on (November 10, 2008, 12:10 GMT)

Dhoni's success in this test speaks for itself. For me the outstanding action by Dhoni was his tribute to Ganguly. By asking Ganguly to captain the last rites of the match he demonstrated strong, charismatic leadership and respect for members of his team. Other senior members of the squad will remember this and ensure that they will battle hard for him. There is maturity in Dhoni that bodes for an excellent future. For Ganguly, what a way to retire. His contribution to Indian Cricket has been exemplary and I hope that much will be written about Ganguly and his fighting spirit. Well done India, just don't relax against England. Living in England, I wouldn't want to read the UK papers if the unthinkable was to happen!

Posted by rahulbengani on (November 10, 2008, 12:09 GMT)

Dhoni will probably be one of the better captains India has ever seen. He is not only a great player, but an great team player taking the team into consideration while making any of his decisions. Acts such as giving Ganguly captaincy (even for a brief while), showing trust in Amit Mishra (or Singh in T20 final), keeping his cool when it matters, etc, etc. only prove that he is a great leader. Whats best is he can bring the synergistic effect between all players. So even if Tendulkar is having a bad day (for that matter, when Dravid is having bad daySSS) there is someone else covering up and making up for the team. I have never seen the team contribute so effectively as a single unit! Go Dhoni Go!

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