`Captain cool` Dhoni and his midas touch
Birmingham: "Dhoni, captain cool" -- the placard held by an Indian fan appropriately sums up the magic of India`s cricket captain.
"I don`t turn up in the ground to achieve anything special as a captain," Dhoni said last night after his team had defended a modest 129 to defeat England and win the Champions Trophy.
These modest words may seem out of place for India`s most successful cricket captain in all formats of the game -- Tests, ODIs and T20s.
"For me winning the game is very important and that is of utmost importance for us as a team," Dhoni said.
For the 31-year-old Dhoni, winning the Champions Trophy completed a remarkable cycle of triumphs which started with the T20 World Cup in 2007. India also won the 2011 ODI World Cup under his leadership and the victory yesterday reaffirmed his status as India`s best-ever captain. No other captain in international cricket has won three major ICC trophies.
The British media also doffed their hats at the "pragmatic, ineffably calm captain" and highlighted his leadership qualities which ultimately gave India a thrilling five-run victory in the rain-hit final.
"India could hardly believe what was happening, though for MS Dhoni, their pragmatic, ineffably calm captain it was probably a normal day at the office. He had put the squeeze on England at the start and he has been round long enough to know that anything can happen in short-form cricket and often does," the `Independent` said.
The `Daily Telegraph` described Dhoni`s decision to bowl the last two overs with spinners as a "masterstroke".
"... Completely confounding tradition, the last two overs were entrusted by MS Dhoni to spinners. Spin has been one of the surprising successes of the shortest form of the game, and Dhoni`s choice was a master stroke," the paper wrote.
The `Daily Mirror` was also effusive in its praise of the Indian captain who "marshalled his field and his bowlers like an all-knowing general".
"India played much the smarter cricket and were brilliantly led by MS Dhoni who marshalled his field and his bowlers like an all-knowing general who just needed the merest crack to break England down," the `Daily Mirror` said.
The `Guardian` wrote: "The India captain, Mahendra Singh Dhoni, started to turn the screw, hounding the batsmen with close fielders, the ball spitting and the crowd ecstatic."
Dhoni was also praised by former Indian cricketers who said he has moulded the young team into a winning unit.
"He (Dhoni) has got this ability of rising from the ashes. It is his temperament where he has treated those two imposters -- fame and failure -- in just the same manner. I think that is the reason why he is able to bounce back after a tough time," batting great Sunil Gavaskar said.
Ex-India skipper Gundappa Viswanath lauded Dhoni`s "cool and composed" approach.
"Full marks to M S Dhoni. Now, he has all the world titles to his name. He is undoubtedly one of the best captains we have ever produced. There has been no change in his captaincy and he has been continuing in the same way with his cool and composed approach to the game and is taking up the challenge up front," Vishwanath said.
Another former skipper Ajit Wadekar rated Dhoni as India`s best-ever captain.
"It was a superb win. Hats off to Dhoni, I think he is the best captain we have got. Despite not having Sachin ( Tendulkar) Rahul (Dravid), Dhoni could get all the youngsters together and showed the team spirit within this unit. This looks like a complete team and Dhoni is probably the best captain India has ever had," he said.
Legendary off-spinner Erapalli Prasanna said Dhoni`s captaincy has been "brilliant".
"It`s a victory that definitely indicates India are best side in cricketing world. Dhoni`s captaincy has been brilliant," he said.
Under Dhoni`s captaincy, India played 47 Test matches out of which they won 24, lost 12 and 11 ended in draws. In 140 one-dayers as captain, Dhoni led India to 82 victories, while losing 47. Three matches ended in tie and eight produced no results.
In T20, his record has been slightly less impressive having won 20 matches and losing 19. One ended in a tie.