India v Sri Lanka, World T20, final, Mirpur April 5, 2014

Dhoni shuts out off-field issues


MS Dhoni is into his seventh year as India captain. It all started for him with the 2007 World T20, and for the first time after that, India are in the final of another edition of the tournament. In this time, Dhoni has seen "almost everything" there is to see in the game. He, as well as India, have been through on-field transition as well as off-field controversy.

The latter word just refuses to leave Indian cricket alone, and brings additional pressure with it. Somehow, Dhoni and his men have managed to win a Champions Trophy surrounded by IPL-related controversy, and could hold all three major limited-overs titles if they beat Sri Lanka on Sunday, again amid the grip of similar controversy. As he stood on the cusp of another major triumph, Dhoni said that through his tenure, he had tried to control what he could while trying to ignore anything beyond that domain.

"Over the years that I have been the captain I have seen almost everything," Dhoni said. "There is nothing really that I have not seen in cricket. We have Indian cricket perform at their best and at the same time we had to go through a lean patch where we had really tough times. Controversies are big part of Indian cricket and I have been through all it. There's hardly any good or bad in Indian cricket that happens without my name. We have to go through everything but the good thing is we have to concentrate on the process more.

"I know there are certain things that are in my control. I look to move in that direction rather than thinking or living a thought that's beyond my control and that has really helped me. It's been an interesting time, ups and downs. That's all it's all about - in international sport it doesn't matter which game you are playing. It has taught me a lot and it's still a learning curve for me and hopefully it will teach me many more in coming life after cricket."

When asked how his leadership had changed over these years, Dhoni said that was for watchers to judge, but added that he had tried to own up to his mistakes every time. "That's not really for me to decide because from outside, you can judge it better than me. Of course, I take it as a job and responsibility, I have been given the responsibility and I try to fulfill it to the best potential that I have got.

"At the same time, as an individual, you will make mistakes and as a captain. I feel it is very important that if you commit a mistake, you go out there and admit it because it won't always go your way because the captain, almost 98% of the time, decides on something but it is somebody else who has to fulfill the job. Ultimately, it depends on the person and how he responds to the situation. You try to be honest to yourself, you read the game and decide something. If it doesn't work, you stand up and take the responsibility because that's what your job needs you to do."

India have won three major finals under Dhoni, at the 2007 World T20, the 2011 World Cup and the 2013 Champions Trophy. Was it that he was able to step up his leadership when it came to ICC tournaments? Dhoni did not think so, preferring to give credit to his players instead.

"Not really. I think the players have responded really well. If you talk about this tournament, your spinners have come into action. They got a bit of purchase off the wicket and they made sure that they capitalised on that. That's what the team environment is all about.

"When the fast bowlers have conditions that are in favour of them, then they have to deliver and when it is not in favour of them, when you are playing on flat wickets but it has a bit of turn, then the spinners have to come into action and I felt in this tournament, the spinners have done a fantastic job.

"Depending on different games, all of them have contributed, even the part-timers, somebody like Suresh Raina has bowled really well whenever we have needed him. Overall it is a perfect team environment where somebody needs to do the job and there have been individuals who rose to the occasion and said I will be the person who will take the responsibility."

Abhishek Purohit is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Ashok on April 7, 2014, 13:50 GMT

    While I support all the Fans praising Dhoni , I feel that Dhoni as a "Cricketer" & Dhoni as a "Captain" are not always on the same page. Dhoni as a Cricketer is one of the finest WK/Batsman India has ever produced- comparable to flamboyant Engineer & aggressive Kunderan, before him. But as a Captain he had lot of holes in his armour. Most significant defects showed up in longer 5 day test format. His unbalanced XI selection was a huge question mark heavily tilted towards batting. So much so he goes into a 5 day Tests with just 3 specialist bowlers. He preferred All rounders to specialist bowlers. With his approach it is tough to get 20 wkts. to win the Tests. No wonder India was swept in England & Australia + lost in SA + drew in NZ. As the formats get shorter his deficiencies get hidden. His exclusion of Pujara & RH leg spinners have cost India a few ODI's. Even his batting order is "Iffy" as shown by India losing 2014 T20 WC- out of confidence Yuvraj ahead of dashing Raina!

  • Dummy4 on April 6, 2014, 17:38 GMT

    After loosing indians always feel the faults in their shining stars :P

  • D on April 6, 2014, 16:44 GMT

    He has seen it!!!!....How about losing to srilanka in T20 final....He is yet to see his downfall and I am pretty sure he wont hv to wait too long for that.

  • Android on April 6, 2014, 15:45 GMT

    jagadaaku or whatever your name is.. I don't know from which country you are.. but you need to respect some players.. keep Dravid out of this..

  • JIGNESH on April 6, 2014, 15:25 GMT

    Hattrick??? My foot. Has he ever prepare for it? Why Rahane and Yuvraj still in the team? Dhavan and Binny are not in this tournament for sitting on the bench. What Dhoni himself doing in T20? His average strike rate is 115. Some bowlers have even better strike rate than this moderated strike rate. If some company does profit because of it's 45 employees are working really hard and 5 constantly doing bad. No company would hang with those 5 bad workers, no matter company is profiting every year. This was simple example. Yuvraj had his good days, but years ago. These days he is struggling like Canadian batsmen struggling against any team. Everyone see Yuvi's struggling performance against WI, then why he is in the team in this kind of major final? Ajinkya Rahane looks like Dravid, and his batting style is also like Dravid, and no matter how Dravid is a good batsman, but no one would favor to include Dravid in T20.

  • mohammad on April 6, 2014, 15:17 GMT

    How will all these comments parsing Dhoni will show on his decision to sit inform batsman Raina at bench sending out of form Yuvi to bat who scored at 55% strike rate wasting balls. If India looses yje final, all will say Dhoni made a poor decision. That is how cricket works, uncertain indeed.

  • uncle bob on April 6, 2014, 13:37 GMT

    MSD is by far Greatest captain India ever had. And he is one of the best world cricket ever had. Respect to MS. Go get the cup. We are all behind you.

  • Dummy on April 6, 2014, 13:19 GMT

    I wanna salute the selector who made dhoni as a captain of indian cricket team....good luck team india..

  • Android on April 6, 2014, 13:07 GMT

    ms dhoni is a lucky captain that he has to best batting line up in the world from last 3 years. his captaincy get check up when his team go abroad to play but the team never won any matches or titles by his captaincy in abroad. dhoni is not a great captain. he is great captain in Asian pitches only not abroad pitches.

  • Dummy on April 6, 2014, 12:43 GMT

    The honest truth is that MS Dhoni is by far the best captain in the world .