Sunday, September 18, 2011

Dhoni and his Cycle of Success

Indian cricket team was flying high. Test team ranking was no. 1. They were reigning T20 champions and to top it up they also won the world cup. They could do nothing wrong.  All credit went to their leader Mahendra Singh Dhoni, MSD as they affectionately call him. He won 2 IPLs in a row for CSK and nudged Sachin Tendulkar from the charts of top grossing brand ambassador. They said he had a midas touch. Within 2 months of English tour, everything came crashing down. They got whitewashed in test series. Even unpredictable weather in England could not save them. They were hoping for a turnaround in one-day series, which never happened. Except for the fourth match which was a tie they never came close to winning anything. Fingers are being pointed at everyone and MSD takes the major share.


"I have never seen so many injuries in the last five years. To lose nine to eleven players in one series is something I can never forget, We lost five tosses and we bowled second in nearly the same conditions, which were wet and that made it tough for our spinners," Dhoni said at the post-match conference.


Was that really it? Or is there something more to it? It’s more of later than first.


MSD has a unique style of captaincy.  He builds up the team from his predecessors. He has opted for young budding players against more established players. He respected senior players and got their support and buy-in to his captaincy and then cracked down on the fence sitters. He brought in truck loads of young talent, build bench strength. Backed his players in difficult situations and motivated them to perform.

  1. Appears very calm in any adverse situations.

  2. Leads from front.

  3. Backs young players

  4. Regularly surprises opponent team with unusual moves and make them work.

  5. Has luck on his side at crucial junctures

MSD has performed well during this tour on all these points except point 4. This surprise element was always a great differentiator for Dhoni. Be it changing the batting order during world cup finals or handing over the ball to Joginder Sharma to bowl the final over of T20 to numerous changes in batting order, bowling changes, numerous field placements. He has dared the unknown, the unconventional and made it work. Guess the competition has measured it up. All his surprise moves, unusual changes are measured up by the opposition.


From the leadership style point of view, Dhoni needs to reinvent himself. He has no choice. He needs to relive his own cycle of success all over again. He should crack down on fence sitters again. Look at the performance of key players again and see if they deserve a place or should they be replaced by young talent. He may find players like Bhajji, Raina who are promising but the promise is not reflected in their performance. He should bring in some more new talent and build some more surprises up his sleeves.


Surprising the opponent is the strength. It is difficult to do it every time. There are bound to be some lean phases in between. He should take them in his stride and relive his own cycle of success.

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