News : We felt the pressure - Dhoni
News : 'I couldn't control my tears of joy'
News : 'India planned final for a year'
Bulletin : Dhoni and Gambhir lead India to World Cup glory
Audio/Video: MS Dhoni: Players have responded well to me
Players/Officials: MS Dhoni | Rahul Dravid | Sourav Ganguly |Anil
Kumble | Sachin Tendulkar
Matches: India v Sri Lanka at Mumbai
Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup
Before he led India to a World Cup victory, MS Dhoni's earliest identity as a
cricketer had been attached to the Twenty20 format. It was India's victory in
the World Twenty20 under Dhoni that was one of the factors that led to the
speedy launch of the Indian Premier League. Dhoni then led his team, the Chennai
Super Kings, to a double last year, winning the IPL and the Champions League
Twenty20 in South Africa.
Yet, more than once during this World Cup, Dhoni has demonstrated that he is
conscious of the course taken by Indian cricket in the last three decades and
where Saturday's victory now stands.
At the media conference following India's six-wicket victory, Dhoni was asked by
an English reporter to explain what the World Cup victory actually meant to
Indians who, Dhoni was told, did not enjoy much success in other world-level
sport. Yuvraj Singh, the World Cup's Player of the Tournament sitting next to
Dhoni, raised his eyebrow, and his captain took the opportunity to say that
India had been growing as a nation that supports sport, citing the examples from
shooting, badminton, hockey and football.
But cricket, Dhoni said, "was special" to Indians because of the change that the
1983 victory achieved for Indian cricket. "People started loving the sport and
you then saw two individuals making their debut, Anil Kumble and Sachin
Tendulkar." He then said that the successful careers of Sourav Ganguly and Rahul
Dravid, which began in 1996, marked the next step. "This was the chain of
players because of whom we are in this position right now. We earn a lot of
money, we get a lot respect and what we are trying to do is to pass it onto the
Three of the players mentioned by Dhoni were at the Wankhede Stadium on Saturday
night; Tendulkar a part of Dhoni's team, Kumble in the audience and new
commentator-columnist Ganguly, who stood at the boundary on the far side of
dressing room from where he watched the Indian team go past on its lap of honour
with Tendulkar sitting on Yusuf Pathan's shoulders. Ganguly, who led India to
the final of the 2003 World Cup and who still responds to India's performance as
if he were a part of the team, was beaming. "What a win," he said, "what a
Dhoni was asked to compare his two biggest victories as India captain and said,
that while every format was "special" in its own way, "I have always loved the
ODI format. Because I always think you see a lot of variety in one-day cricket."
The final he said had been the best example. "In this game, we lost a couple of
early wickets and then you have two batsmen struggling to get runs." He said
that the one-day game showed "a glimpse" of what may not be Test cricket but was
a shortened version of its demands.
"Two batsmen looking for survival and looking to get runs at the same time. At
the end you saw a slog, from Yuvraj and me. And at the end of it," Dhoni said,
"you see a result." It is a summary that would please the ICC enormously which,
after the unfortunate 2007 event in the Caribbean, has needed a successful World
Cup to prove to its community that the three formats of the sport could survive.
Between that World Cup and this one, there has been a mushrooming of the
Twenty20 leagues, and was seen as a threat to the 50-over format. Now with the
captain of the 2011 World Cup winners, and the biggest audience and market in
the sport, enthusiastically endorsing the format, the ICC has further proof of
what it has always maintained: that the 50-over game can play a few more