There comes a time in every man’s life when he has to take decisions which not many may agree with, and the results of which he would be stalked by for life. Yet, he must. Even if there is no basis in reason or history.
Dhoni took some of those decisions in two of the most crucial matches of the Greatest Test of Cricket on the planet. A game that is a religion for the now 1.21 billion people.
When the team was going in to face the arch-rivals Pakistan and the stakes were sky high, at that time Dhoni took a gamble on Ashish Nehra, while letting Ravichandran Ashwin sit out. On the present form, Ashwin should have gotten the seat over Nehra. The pitch was supposed to be good for pacers. A surmise which proved incorrect. Yet, be as it may, the hand had been dealt. And the captain – and the team – was now with Nehra and a slower pitch than earlier thought.
Ashish Nehra player the match of his life. His figures of 10-0-33-2 (run rate of 3.30) was a brilliant performance for a medium pacer.
One is not sure if it was the gamble that paid off or the trust in Nehra, which added a sense of responsibility on his shoulders. But he came up to the challenge and did not disappoint the country. When it seemed that Pakistan could take the match away, he bottled their mercurial batsmen like no one else in the team.
In the finals, the captain walked in ahead of Yuvraj – the guy in the form. And Dhoni himself was going through a patchy time. As he replaced Virat Kohli and settled down, situation needed a cool and calculative head. Men with poise and balance, who could keep batting through the time without throwing it all away. No heroics were needed. Simple batting work and professional running.
That is what Dhoni brought in.
When Gambhir left 3 short of his century, and India still 52 runs away from victory with almost 9 overs to go, it was important to steady things through with the new guy in. Dhoni took charge and worked with Yuvraj with a cool head.
As India stood just 4 runs away from the target, Dhoni came out and hit the ball out of the ground for a six. A perfect end to a perfect cricketing display.
No one would say anything now, but things could have gone awry. Dhoni could have repeated the performance of his past matches and left earlier. Yuvraj could have been under pressure. The captain had other ideas. He was to become a man today.
Leadership requires tough decisions and with them, is required the ability to see them through and have the courage to handle situations if they go wrong, as Nehra’s did when Pakistani bowling tested the pitch with pace and spin alike!
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