| Sourav Ganguly and Mahendra Singh Dhoni |
Calcutta: Less than a week after Greg Chappell said that Mahendra Singh Dhoni was "born to lead," he has become India's most successful Test captain. Pushed to the No.2 spot is Sourav Ganguly, whose innings as captain finished before Dhoni's Test debut!
Back on November 4, 2008, the eve of his first Test as full-time captain, Dhoni told this Reporter: "Sourav's a great thinker and, obviously, that came through when he was the captain... As captain, he wasn't shy of trying something new and was flexible with strategy...
"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 they're legends says everything."
On Tuesday, a shade under five years after captaining India for the first time in a Test (Kanpur, standing-in for Anil Kumble), Dhoni raised the bar to 22 wins.
The record comes less than three months after the series loss to England, which had many, including the so-called pundits, yelling for Dhoni's head.
Indeed, from being the favourite punching bag, Dhoni's now the toast. Knowing him, he'll be chuckling, having responded in the best manner possible.
At different times, Sunil Gavaskar, Mohammed Azharuddin and Sourav were very powerful, but Dhoni seems to have emerged No.1 on that front as well. Yet, he remains with feet firmly on the ground.
If there's a criticism, it's that Dhoni has pushed for some players who don't really have the best credentials for certain formats.
But, then, Dhoni's not the first captain to do so. It's unlikely that he'll be the last.
Graeme Smith is an exception, but captains do have a shelf life. Be it Chappell or Ravi Shastri, former captains both, they're convinced that Dhoni won't cling to the position once the 'inner voice' tells him it's time to move on.
It's interesting that the MoM in that Kanpur Test, against South Africa, had been Sourav! On an awful track, India won by eight wickets, leaving nobody in doubt that Dhoni would be Kumble's full-time successor.
Seven months on, the job was Dhoni's.
Dhoni's become the No.1, but Sourav enjoyed a success percentage of almost 40 overseas, with superb wins from Port of Spain to Leeds to Adelaide. Dhoni needs to up that percentage from just over 26.
Some hours after India's emphatic win in Hyderabad, The Telegraph spoke to Sourav.
Sourav was fulsome in his praise of Dhoni, who made his India debut (ODI series in Bangladesh) under his captaincy.
The following are excerpts
If he’s disappointed that his record has been broken…
Oh, no. Dhoni had already caught up with me last week and it was only a matter of time before he became the most successful.
You could say that I’m being a bit parochial, but I’m very happy that the two most successful Test captains are from the East. The region hasn’t produced many India cricketers and, so, it feels nice that at least the top two captains are from here.
If Dhoni is a worthy No.1…
Definitely, there’s no question about it.
His overseas record being far superior to Dhoni…
The statistics do show that, but our next few series are overseas (South Africa, New Zealand, England), which means Dhoni has the opportunity to improve on the win-overseas column. I wish him luck.
Similarities between him and Dhoni…
Look, everybody is different and has his style.
Firstly, Dhoni is the calm sort… Then, he analyses situations well and is a good, thinking captain.
Finally, a message for Dhoni…
Well done and keep up the good work.
Footnote: The big win, notwithstanding, things don't look bright for Virender Sehwag. It won't surprise if he's dropped for the last two Tests of the series.