During one of the presentation ceremonies in this year’s Indian Premier League, Mahendra Singh Dhoni was asked the question about how he goes about captaining a T20 side, whether he sets a plan before hand or waits till the game starts to make plans accordingly. With typical aplomb, Dhoni said that he will remain flexible throughout the game and will not burden himself with any rigid plans.
That is how most of the captains have gone with their business in this year’s edition. Shane Warne did quite the opposite in the first edition and was very successful. He defined the role for each and every player in his team and asked them to do what they were asked for. It worked wonders but during that tournament he had enough time to spend with his players and he also had a firing Sohail tanvir who took bucket loads of wickets.
But this year, the tournament had started immediately after the World Cup and all the teams, except the Chennai Super Kings and the Mumbai Indians are entirely new. The captains would not know the capabilities of his players and their abilities to handle pressure.
Not many have been blessed with someone like Lasith Malinga. He has regularly picked up wickets when his captain has wanted and made his job easier. Sachin Tendulkar has also led with the bat and is the second leading run scorer in the competition.
Mahela Jayawardene has also been inspiring with the bat and has made some bold decisions, like leaving out Sreedharan Sreesanth and Muttiah Muralidharan. He has also inspired Ravindra Jadeja to return to his best and the all rounder is back to his best.
Shane Warne has been his usual self, and has turned the clock back. His handling of Johan Botha has been inspiring as he has used him as an attacking spinner, a containing bowler and as a top order batsman. Kumar Sangakkara has not been good with the bat and that has affected his team. He hasn’t marshaled a good bowling attack well and that has cost his team some games.
MS Dhoni is leading virtually the same team and hasn’t had much to do captaincy wise. The best captain in this tournament has so far been Gautam Gambhir. He had a lot to do before the tournament started and has been excellent. The tournament started badly for him when his decision to demote himself in the batting order back fired. However he has learnt his mistakes and has been wonderful ever since. The only time he didn’t have anything up his sleeve was when Chris Gayle was destroying the Knight Riders’ bowling.
He has led his franchise’s resurgence and has instilled confidence in his teams. His team has also brought the crowd back to Eden Gardens and that is probably his biggest achievement as a captain.