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India blossom under Dhoni the ODI captain

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Chappell: Dhoni looks a different captain this World Cup (2:15)

Ian Chappell talks about how India always seem to turn up in major world tournaments under the leadership of MS Dhoni (2:15)

"Captain Cool" was at it again at the WACA: MS Dhoni doing what he does best, captaining an ODI side aggressively and guiding India to victory with the bat.

In a short space of time, India have gone from being a team staggering towards a quarter-final exit to a side sprinting to the finish line with back-to-back World Cup victories beckoning.

If that glorious finale were to eventuate, Dhoni will join Clive Lloyd and Ricky Ponting as the only World Cup captains to achieve that extremely difficult feat. Dhoni's would be the greater achievement because his success has come with less talented bowling attacks than the previous two captains.

A big part of India's turnaround from a bunch of straggling individuals to an aggressive and consistent combination has to do with Dhoni's leadership. In the Test series against Australia, he performed like a bear hibernating in winter. However, the advent of the World Cup has turned him into a giant grizzly ready to pounce on opponents as though they are salmon heading upstream.

Dhoni has a couple of admirable attributes as an ODI leader. The players believe in him and he remains as calm as light air. He has carried India home to victory so many times by keeping his head and hitting judiciously that the team believe he can indeed perform miracles.

It also doesn't hurt that in the last World Cup final he played an innings of great importance after thrusting himself into the firing line. This was the type of mentally strong performance that engenders great loyalty and inspires players to give everything they have got for the captain.

This positive action is a hard-to-fathom contrast to some of his Test captaincy. He often appears to be somnolent when dressed in whites, and some of his "captain's pick" selections are without logic. He then exacerbates those selections with his strange use of those choices during the contest. Consequently, his away Test record in recent times resembles a hibernating bear's larder - empty.

Then when the World Cup spotlight shines, he's galvanised into action. His aggressive captaincy is not surprising. When Dhoni first came into the Indian side, my brother Greg said Dhoni was acutely aware of what was going on and what needed to be done. "If I wanted to know how things were on the field I sought out MS," Greg said.

What is harder to fathom is his frustrating periods of inertia as a Test captain. The fact that he has now retired from the job suggests the workload may have worn him down.

Dhoni's vibrant leadership in world tournaments is probably best explained by an Indian journalist workmate. "In talking with Dhoni," he explained, "I've noticed he's acutely aware of his commercial image."

There's no surer way to become a fan favourite in India than to lead the team to a major trophy. The 1983 World Cup-winning side is still eulogised after it changed India's perception of one-day cricket by unexpectedly clinching the trophy with an upset win over the powerful West Indies.

The 2015 West Indies are far from powerful but they at least put up a fight against India. This was a contest that a less committed India could easily have lost; a match played on a surface that suited fast bowlers and tested batsmen against the short-pitched delivery.

It would be incorrect to say that India passed with flying colours. The bowlers performed brilliantly but the batsmen were far less convincing. Nevertheless, they won and are now on track to top Pool B, which should bring a relatively cushy quarter-final against a hapless England.

The win at the WACA had Dhoni written all over it. He not only guided the team home with the bat but it was also a pragmatic win. "Let's just get the two points any way we can and then we don't have to deal with the WACA anymore."

That sums up Dhoni as an ODI captain: aggressive, inspirational and pragmatic. The salmon better beware.