| Mahendra Singh Dhoni |
Nagpur: Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who is just hours away from leading India in his first Test as full-fledged captain, spoke to The Telegraph at the Pride Hotel on Tuesday evening.
The following are excerpts:
Q Your first Test as the full-fledged captain will be the last of the captain, Sourav Ganguly, under whom you made your India debut (December 2004). Your thoughts on this?
A (Grins) I couldnt have dreamt that Id be the captain within four years... I wouldve laughed had somebody said so then... Ive had a good journey and it has been an absolute honour to share the dressing room with great players, Sourav being one of them... Ive been privileged, but those making their debut now will be missing the experience of having been in the same dressing room as Anil Kumble and Sourav...
How did you find Sourav as captain?
Look, I didnt study his captaincy thinking Id myself be the captain one day... Souravs a great thinker and, obviously, that came through when he was the captain... Even now, he can reel off stats about players and how matches have gone at particular venues... Whats happened to teams winning the toss... Its remarkable... As captain, he wasnt shy of trying something new and was flexible with strategy... Sourav has quite a few qualities and Id say it has been a pleasure playing with him. (Adds laughing) His only problem as captain, I guess, was with the over-rates!
What similarities do you find between Souravs captaincy and your own style?
Aggression definitely is one... Like Sourav, Im flexible with plans for the opposition batters... I dont believe in being rigid with something only because it has been worked upon in the dressing room. Flexibility has to be the name of the game.
Your take on Souravs legacy?
Let me tell you it will be tough for the coming generation to achieve what Sourav and the others have consistently achieved over so many years... That theyre legends says everything... The seniors have been such fine role models, each one of them.
Are you disappointed that you got the blame when Sourav got dropped from ODIs earlier this year?
As your question concerns selection, I wouldnt like to say anything... I wouldnt like to get into territory where I shouldnt be going... Moreover, almost a year has gone, so why rake it up?
As captain, you too are aggressive, but rather restrained if a comparison is to be made with Sourav...
Im not over-expressive... So, in a way, Im different, but the agenda is the same: To win... A captain has to get the best out of his team, thats important, not so much the method he uses.
Do you also believe that a captain is as good as his team?
Yes... 100 per cent... One keeps hearing X or Y is a good captain, but thats because X or Y has had a good team at his disposal.
What will you be telling yourself when you go for the toss, on Thursday morning?
(Laughs) Probably nothing! If I do say anything, it could be that I should win the toss...
How would you describe your style of captaincy?
Oh, thats a real tough one... What I want, of course, is 100 per cent commitment... Winning is important, but Im not driven by results alone... I accept that, at times, one could get outplayed... Thats part of the game... Its the commitment bit which, for me, is very important. Id never compromise on that.
Captaincy doesnt end with the end of the days play...
(Interrupting) I dont like being the captain when, for example, the team is back at the hotel... In that respect, then, I wouldnt say Im the captain off the field as well... I wouldnt like the players to see me that way either... A captain has responsibilities, but that doesnt mean Ive got to be the captain at all times... However, its not that Im not available to guide others and am always concerned about their well being. (After a pause) Win or lose, I wouldnt like the atmosphere in the dressing room to change too much.
The final one: The Test here will be Souravs last and VVS Laxmans 100th... Then, Harbhajan Singh is on the threshold of 300 Test wickets... Could all that be a distraction?
No... Id like to look at the positives... That Laxman has the experience of 99 Tests... That Harbhajan has already taken 299 wickets... That Sourav would be looking to bow out on a high... Clearly, there are many positives. Im not worried.