And they do it again. And again. For the nth time in the past few years, the Indian cricket team has pulled off a miracle as nonchalantly as a walk in the park. I am losing count of these miracle wins, unexpected draws, unknown people coming to the fore, lesser members of the team standing up. The result is a fabulous record for the team that makes it the undisputed champion. Any more comparisons or snide remarks to flashes in the pan etc can now be rested. This is it.
Much of the credit must go to MSD. He has made everyone believe that they can do anything. He gives them space to figure themselves out. He also makes it clear that he expects miracles from them - which is why they deliver miracles so often. One reason why this team is so high on belief is that it has a captain who believes - in himself, in his team, and their capability to achieve anything. Dhoni's style is minimalistic which is what makes it so effective. Somehow he has everyone thinking that 'I could do my best for the team because that is what the team expects from me - and if I don't it's still okay. But as long as I am here, I will do my best'. A simple thought which is very difficult to transmit to all members of the team - from ageing superstars to complete rookies - and one that can only be done if one firmly believes in it. More than any coach, it is Dhoni's unflappable nature and his belief in his methods that has made this happen.
The coach Gary Kirsten is another one who deserves credit for being almost invisible and letting the boys be champions without interfering in their evolution. What he has to do, he does it quietly and effectively. I believed that if someone has the sensibility to do that, he has the sensibility to do much more behind the scenes which is showing in results.
The senior players Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, V.V.S. Laxman to name a few have adapted to their roles brilliantly and are doing their bit, whenever called for. The result, a wonderful coordinated team effort where everyone is egging each other on to do that extra. I suspect that there is much relief in the senior camp as well as they get the space to figure out the way they approach their job.
The junior players have adapted equally well. Mostly all juniors crave for their captain's belief and that is something Dhoni invests fully. So they all go without any fear and give their best. They do not appear to be awed by the seniors as some players would make it out to be earlier - that juniors had to earn their stripes etc - Dhoni probably makes them feel that they belong and have already earned their stripes. So an Ishant, an Harbhajan, an Ojha, a Sreesanth, a Pujara, a Murli Vijay, a Raina, a Praveen Kumar and so many others walk into the dressing room, feel that they belong, and deliver performances that several seniors would have been proud of. And my theory is that once the fringe players give 20% more, the team is through.
This is cricket at its best. Team spirit coming to the fore. In this scheme, all members are equal. All members have an equal role to play. All members have equal responsibility to the team and its goal. And all members will do their best to achieve it, whatever the situation they are in. And, most importantly, all members trust one another to do their best implicitly. As simple as that. If we apply these principles to any team, it is bound to win.
Well done MSD and the Indian cricket team. I have always believed that the Indian cricket team's performance reflects our Indian consciousness - of being the romantic loser, of not being comfortable with our success and even more uncomfortable with out neighbor's success. But I see that what MSD and his band are doing so quietly goes a long way in endorsing the consciousness of a new resurgent India - one that is not fazed by any situation, is comfortable with their success, is comfortable with others success, is truly interested in working for common and greater good. Your spirit will surely and slowly bind India towards a progressive goal. I truly believe that this team will be the one to beat in the forthcoming World Cup. Go boys go!