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The rein men

As the IPL juggernaut nears the semifinal stage, it’s time to take a look at the skippers who have come good and those who have missed out in the tournament. Read on...

india Updated: May 24, 2008 11:21 IST

Yuvraj, a fast learner

Of all the captains, Yuvraj Singh had the toughest task at hand. While everyone else had the experience of leading a side, the Punjab lefthander was completely new to the job. That, however, didn’t deter him, and has led the side with lot of passion and imagination to make Mohali a force to reckon with. The start, however, was far from promising, prompting Yuvraj to admit that he was finding it tough. But he learnt his lessons sooner than later, evident by the string of victories Mohali posted after the initial stumble.

“It’s remarkable how he lifted the team after two losses, and that has earned him a lot of respect in the team,” said Shaun Marsh. Jayawardene, an astute leader himself, finds Yuvraj a good reader of the game and good in man management skills, especially in encouraging the youngsters. Besides, the tough stand he took over the ‘slapgate’ showed him in a very good light.

(By Subhash Rajta)

Dada always a leader

What can you say of a captain whose team is struggling because the popular notion says that a captain is as good or bad as his team. Going by that, Sourav Ganguly is a failure in this department in the IPL. His team found it difficult to put together a string of wins, lost out on a semifinal berth well before others made the cut and became predictable as losers even in these days of uncertainties.

Ganguly, in this context, is thus a failure as a leader. Conclusions, however, still shouldn't be drawn and epitaphs not written because he is Ganguly, someone who has a record of proving people wrong. It has to be remembered that he hardly got the team he wanted, for several reasons. Yes, he failed to inspire his resources to something great, but a few T20 games are too few to judge a captain or a player. We stand by Dada, the leader, because he has been there, done that and this is merely T20.

(By A Mukhopadhyay)

Simply, Warne’s wizardry

If leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done, then there should be no doubt about Shane Warne’s captaincy credentials. Within a day of joining the Jaipur team as captain, the crafty Australian had broken the ice and shunted out the awkwardness that comes usually when the ‘kings meet commoners’.

Within a week, he had prepared a dossier on the strengths and weaknesses of each one of them, awarding them titles and roles for the season. Within a fortnight, his merry bunch was swaying to his tunes, with each member completely devoted to ‘the cause’. And within a month, they are sitting pretty at the top of the IPL table. Easy!

The greatest trick Warne has pulled in this competition is that he has brought together an eclectic bunch of cricketers, united them with a common cause and convinced them that common sense and ‘a cool head’ are more valuable than ‘the grace of genius’. He has been easygoing yet stern, casual yet fastidious, and a student as well as a teacher. Be it the impressionable domestic cricketers or proven international stars; they all have towed his line. Warne has had a vision that he has articulated clearly and forcefully.

(By Varun Gupta)

Dhoni’s inspiring captaincy

The flamboyant Mahendra Singh Dhoni often comes to the stadium in Chennai riding his bike and hides his identity with a black helmet.

Dhoni has an aura around him, said Matthew Hayden. And many youngsters from Chennai team would agree with the Aussie. Remember the Indian team's faith in Joginder Sharma during India's T20 World Cup semifinal and final? With Chennai too, he moulded two young medium pacers — Manpreet Singh Gony and Palani Amarnath — into match-winners.

Tamil Nadu bowler Amarnath has to say this about Dhoni. During the first match, Amarnath was nervous playing for the first time in front of such a huge crowd and all the media. Dhoni promptly walked up to him and calmed him down, asking him to take it easy and not to get worried if he goes for a few runs. Dhoni wanted batsmen to go after the young bowler because he felt this presented him with a chance to get their wickets.

Amarnath and Goni are now comfortable in their roles and have won their captain many games.

(

By K Guruprasad

)

Stress not in Viru’s lexicon

Virender Sehwag is the kind of captain who is either going to come off for you, or not, and either way don’t expect long post-mortems either in a gloomy dressing-room if the team has lost, or in a celebratory one when the team has won. Sehwag is not one for elaborate theory — he’s a do-er rather than a talk-er, but this does not mean he doesn’t think about the game.

Up until now, with Delhi’s fortunes still hanging in the balance, he has had the full backing of his team owners. The real test will come if Delhi fail to qualify for the semifinal. But even if his team owners react badly, like some of their more illustrious counterparts already have, Sehwag won’t be particularly stressed. He gave it his best shot but it didn’t work out, just the sort of thing he’d be telling his team.

(By Anand Vasu)

Laxman: Not quite inspirational

To say that Hyderabad’s IPL campaign has been a failure will be putting it kindly. It has, in fact, been a disaster.
Nothing has gone right, and maybe the leadership, or the lack of it, has played a big role in their abject surrender. Agreed, the players have not performed anywhere close to what they were expected, but a good captain can turn a group of mediocre talents into a winning outfit. Laxman’s injury, and subsequent time off, gave Gilchrist the reins.

However, though the Aussie has been more pro-active and involved with the action, he too has not been able to get the results.

The team has been stressing how they are planning for next season, and how they are confident of a reversal in fortunes in the future; a good captain would make that a lot more believable a claim.

(By Arjun Sen)

Three skippers, one goal

With Mumbai, one gets confused writing about leadership. Despite having played the least number of matches so far, they have seen the most number of captains — three — by a team in the tournament.
With Sachin Tendulkar sidelined due to a groin injury, it was Harbhajan Singh who donned the mantle in the opening match. He was such a disaster that he didn’t even know the strengths of most local players in the XI.
And once Bhajji slapped S. Sreesanth in Mohali after his team’s third successive loss, Shaun Pollock took over.
Pollock was a revolution. If the younger players in the squad are to be believed, Pollykaka — as he was re-christened — was a fantastic “communicator” and “man-manager”.

And once Pollock set the tone with three successive wins after suffering a loss in his first match as captain, Tendulkar carried forward the momentum.

Even if Tendulkar was on the bench, he was always involved in every decision. So it wasn’t much of a problem for either him or the team to get acquainted with their captain.

(By Amol Karhadkar)

Dravid: Let down by his team

Of all the skippers in the IPL, the one who has come under most scrutiny for all the wrong reasons has been Rahul Dravid. Where Shane Warne has revelled as captain of a team, Dravid has had to face the brunt of team owner Vijay Mallya’s fury after a string of ordinary performances.

Typically, the former Indian captain has chosen to maintain a studied silence, refusing to react to Mallya’s outbursts and ensuring that the situation hasn’t gotten out of hand. Dravid has always been quiet and subdued, not given to overt shows of emotion in success and in failure. That is his nature.

Not even the frenetic pace of the Twenty20 format has necessitated him to abandon tried and trusted methods.
He has led by example, but his team has failed to emulate the leader.

If that is lack of inspirational leadership, then Dravid is culpable.

(By G Krishnan)