All three had captained the Indian team (One still does) - in three different styles and all the three are at very different stages of their careers today but the Indian Premier League (IPL) brings them together on a single platform where their leadership skills are evaluated them – Sourav Ganguly, Rahul Dravid and MS Dhoni once again – quite differently.
All the three have contributed immensely to Indian cricket and many argue that a comparison of these outstanding three is unfair. However, debate, undoubtedly, is also the best part of watching sport. And there is the IPL battle being played out in front of us and so, we can be the judges of the present without much of assumptions and imaginations.
There is a difference, a unique feel that Sourav Ganguly brings on to the cricketing field when he takes over the captaincy. And today when he is back with his leadership tactics on the field, the nostalgia begins to jumpstart among the cricket frenzy Indian crowd.
Ganguly’s inputs as the captain of Pune Warriors have been noticeable when his side overthrew the Mumbai Indians on the third match of IPL V. The furious captain rung in the changes and with his unique style, he made some remarkable field placements and as always, he was constantly looking for wickets.
Ganguly who took over the captaincy of Indian team at a very tumultuous period with a task of lifting a team that lost its credibility to the match-fixing controversy. He did rebuild the side reeling from the fallout and had to battle the odds stacked against the Indian team such as “tigers at home and lambs away.” The flamboyant captain created a team that wants afraid of anyone, just like Ganguly who always spoke his mind and dared the orthodox as he took off his shirt at the Mecca of cricket – eventually making the Indian team an aggressive and confident unit.
As today he leads a unit of new commerce, it should be noted that it was with his backing, India saw the emergence of a bunch of talented youngster like Yuvraj Singh, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, and Harbhajan Singh etc. And in the absence of Yuvraj, Ganguly comes to the Pune Team as its captain and mentor, with a not-so-good record in KKR, to prove something and a motivated Ganguly can do wonders.
One of the finest batsmen in the world, technically perfect, carrying a rich experience of 16 years of international cricket, Rahul Dravid will remain to be admired for his exemplary work ethic, meticulousness, and methodical approach for eternity. On the grounds of IPL season V, the world saw a highly spirited Rahul Dravid who carried the role of captaincy and coaching from its talismanic leader Shane Warne with ease, taking the his team Rajasthan Royals to the top spots in the points table. Dravid, with a different temperament that of Warne, could handle the transition with exceptional maturity and cricketing intelligence.
“Warne was loud, aggressive and loved being the centre of attention. Rahul Dravid is quiet, restrained and simply goes about his business,” Tariq Engineer writes espncricinfo. However, both these cricketing greats share something in common – their ability to lead by example and deep knowledge of the game. “A game of T20 lasts for little over three hours, but he bats for three hours on days we have to practice! His work ethics and discipline have become the benchmark for the team,” Dishant Yagnik says about his captain.
It’s no wonder Rahul exhibit his best during this IPL season as he is probably under the least amount of pressure because for Dravid, these two months of IPL is the cooling down period for him. The former Indian captain, who always took decisions by books than by pure instinct, has the best of his chances and he proves to be implementing his great knowledge of the game this time.
Dhoni’s record as skipper makes him one of the best captains the team ever had; however, the recent poor shows first in England and then the tour Down Under have severely dented his reputation.
Dhoni added a finishing touch to what his captain Sourav Ganguly had began with and brought in a new culture of consistency and the team went on to clinch a number of tournaments. Indian cricket team reached to the No.1 in Test cricket and in the biggest games, unlike the past, the team didn’t crumble under pressure. As a result, Team India Under MS Dhoni made history by winning the top tittles in ICC World T20 2007 and ICC Cricket World Cup 2011.
The fearlessness that Dhoni instilled in the team has helped the new comers like Virat Kohli, Suresh Raina and Ravichandran Ashwin, to name a few, who exhibited their exceptional skills at the highest levels. And the good forms of the seniors like Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman brought back the good memories of the Ganguly era.
It’s here Dhoni faces the real test. After having an exceptional period of captaincy, India’s awful performance away that brought back unwanted memories of the past, generated doubts from different corners on his leadership qualities. The IPL extravaganza is going to be a salvage operation for Dhoni, a chance for him to figure out what’s gone missing and this cricketing festival, without the pressure of leading a national team, will draw his true self once again.