MS Dhoni is one man who rose to the stature of a leader in Indian Cricket. His selection into Indian team had been a by-chance encounter. Sourav Ganguly, then captain, wanted to test young wicketkeeper batsmen as Rahul Dravid has been complaining about work load. He tried Parthiv Patel, Dinesh Karthik, Ajay Ratra, Sameer Dighe, Deep Dasgupta, Vijay Dahiya before MS Dhoni. Parthiv Patel and Dinesh Karthik looked like the best options before MS Dhoni played the break out innings against Pakistan, in Vishakapatnam, in 2005.
From 2005, MS Dhoni grew in stature as a batsmen first and a deadly finisher in middle order for India. He and Yuvraj Singh scared oppositions with their destructive batting. As MS Dhoni grew in confidence and stature, he has been given captaincy in 2007. As seniors did not want to participate in inaugural T20 World Cup after 2007 50-over ODI WC debacle, he got the chance. Yuvraj Singh and Virendra Sehwag thought they would be the choices but MS Dhoni got it.
He won the World Cup with a team that no one believed to have enough ammunition to cross league stage. MS Dhoni captaincy became a topic of study for admirers of cricket. He became the regular captain and even seniors like Sachin Tendulkar started relishing playing under him. India won CB Series for the first time in Australia and then One day 50-over World Cup, too. MS Dhoni did face failures in consecutive T20 World Cups after inaugural tournaments but his captaincy did not come under scanner.
He marched on to win ICC Champions Trophy and Indian team became World No.1, too. MS Dhoni during the inaugural season, became choice for Chennai Super Kings to captain the side. They initially wanted Virender Sehwag to captain and open. But Virender Sehwag preferred to play for Delhi, his home team. Hence, they appointed MS Dhoni as their captain and it is Dhoni who asked them to appoint Stephen Fleming as their Head Coach.
CSK reached finals in the first season but lost to Shane Warne’s Rajasthan Royals. Next season, they reached playoffs but did not go to finals. In 2010, when CSK struggled and needed to win against KXIP, MS Dhoni played a masterful innings of 54 from 29 at Dharamsala and CSK went on to win their first trophy. MS Dhoni became a leader for the team. Since then, CSK management has left it to MS Dhoni about the players to be picked in team and even how to create atmosphere in the dressing room.
This made it easy for players to follow one leadership. RCB, Punjab Kings, Delhi Capitals failed to provide such management. KKR found it under Gautam Gambhir, Mumbai Indians found it under Rohit Sharma. Hence, they have been consistent over the period of time, they have been. MS Dhoni lets the support staff to scout for talents and then pick among the best from them. MI has formed a separate team to scout for talents. They leave it to Rohit Sharma, main coaching staff to make use of them on-field. Management takes a back seat during the season to give players freedom in CSK and MI. MS Dhoni has started this trend in 2010-11 and others started following it.
In fact, Shane Warne made Rajasthan Royals completely, his team on and off field in 2008, too. The belief that CSK management puts in unorthodox methods of MS Dhoni, lets him function at his optimum best. He gives ample chances to players. They won’t question. The team ends up in 9th position, they don’t question. The next season team reaches finals and they rejoice. MS Dhoni tries to optimize from the available players and management lets him do it. This season, Ben Stokes has been their highest priced purchase.
Other managements have asked their captains to play such top priced players in most matches. CSK did not mind Ben Stokes being left out even after he recovered from injury. MS Dhoni, himself played through with knee injury, they gave him ample space to choose his position in batting order. Fans have asked him to bat up the order and booed Ravindra Jadeja for batting above him. But CSK management did not force MS Dhoni to come up the order. They leave all the player stuff to coaching staff and MS Dhoni. While they manage outside the field issues and create space for players to perform.
Devon Conway, Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shivam Dube, Ajinkya Rahane, Matheesha Pathirana everyone gave credit to their performances to MS Dhoni. They wanted to perform on the field as they got comfortable off the field and direction to move forward as well clearly. MS Dhoni captaincy on the field is exemplary with more hits than misses as he won 127 matches for CSK in 211 matches he captained. But off the field, he has been able to give great atmosphere for people to nurture, learn and grow to perform at their optimum level on the field, Hence, MS Dhoni captaincy on-field and off-field makes all the difference for CSK in IPL and IPL 2023.
Even GT has modeled their management and playing mode based on MS Dhoni model. Whenever management takes a back seat teams have performed at their best. SRH won their trophy when David Warner became the leader of the team. KKR is now struggling as they lack such leadership that Gautam Gambhir brought to the team. DC lacked any road map by trying 23 players in 14 matches. Punjab Kings doesn’t seem to get their team and management on one line. No team has reached 10 finals in 16 seasons and CSK needs to be thankful for MS Dhoni being their captain from first season. He has shown a path to follow and Suresh Raina, Ravindra Jadeja other captains failed to give CSK same results.
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