MS Dhoni has not just been a highly successful international captain while donning the India colors, but also in the IPL. Dhoni has achieved unparalleled success in the IPL as a skipper of the temporarily defunct Chennai Super Kings. Dhoni relished leading the Super Kings, and in every edition of the IPL, viewers would witness Dhoni efficiently marshaling his side.
However, things took a turn for the worse, when Super Kings was banned for two seasons, on the account of its owners being involved in malpractices and corrupt activities. By the virtue of Super Kings not featuring in this particular edition of the IPL, Dhoni was seen leading a new side, Rising Pune Supergiants. Until now, Dhoni had a fantastic IPL record, where the Super Kings had won the title twice, were runners up 4 times and qualified for all playoffs/ semi-finals.
But do these accolades of the Super Kings mean that Dhoni is the best captain in the IPL? Well, this topic alone can generate some heated debate out in the middle. But the thing worth noticing is that fans have become so myopic where they cannot spot the pros of any captain other than Dhoni. Well, there is one such captain, who if not quite better, is at least as good as Dhoni in the IPL. It is none other than Gautam Gambhir, who has been top notch leading the Kolkata Knight Riders.
Below, we analyze five potential reasons why Gambhir is a better captain than Dhoni in the IPL.
- Tests bench strength regularly:
Over the due course of the previous two editions, MS Dhoni has been guilty in wasting some precious talent in his arsenal. For a few seasons, Dhoni had the services of two extremely talented youngsters in his ranks for the Chennai Super Kings. Vijay Shankar and Baba Aparijith have been exceptional in the domestic circuit, but they got no chances under Dhoni. Rather, Dhoni chose to persist with the underperforming Ravindra Jadeja, which at times is definitely annoying to watch. Aparijith was alongside Dhoni even for the Rising Pune Supergiants, but the result remained the same. All the poor lad did be warm the bench or ferry cold drinks. Gambhir, on the other hand, has been profusely proactive with his bench strength and tests his players quite often.
- Redefines the true essence of aggression:
With Gambhir, the term aggression has found a new meaning. Recently, there was a set of images, showing the attacking field settings employed by Gambhir for any incoming batsman against spin, be it Dhoni or any reputed batsman. The message being sent from Gambhir is loud and clear – “I don’t care who you are, here, I’m the boss.” This aggression is much needed in T20’s, as it plays a decisive role in turning the tide. Fair to assert, Gambhir has been way ahead of Dhoni in being aggressive and letting his tactical moves talk.
- Considers external conditions really well:
Another supreme aspect about Gambhir is that as a leader in the IPL, he is extremely well aware of the conditions. External conditions such as the ground setup and climate play a crucial role in the context of a game, and it becomes fundamental to field your best-suited XI. Dhoni takes a hit in this aspect and on several occasions, captain cool has been guilty of not fielding his best team. For a basic instance, Dhoni would prefer to go with an extra spinner, even though the pitch hardly has anything for the spinners and the boundary remains on the shorter side. Gambhir though carefully considers all factors, and if needed, he is willing to even bench a good spinner so that the players are chosen perfectly according to the conditions.
- Utilizes the talent of his players productively:
Utilizing the talent and skills of your players is a must for any skipper in T20’s. Gautam Gambhir has been absolutely brilliant in this aspect, as viewers have time and again witnessed the brilliance of Gambhir. For instance, Gambhir has used Piyush Chawla really well for the Knight Riders. Gambhir might not necessarily give Chawla all his four overs, but he surely uses the leg-spinner against those batsmen who struggle against the ball gripping away. Gambhir’s way of utilizing Shakib Al Hasan and Sunil Narine has been commendable too. Dhoni, on the other hand, has been guilty of using the same tested means. A basic example of that is how Irfan Pathan was treated in this edition and the one before. Just 4 games in one full season to a player of Pathan’s caliber is nothing but criminal.
- Gambhir is a tad more resilient:
Resilience and not giving up until the end is something necessary for any skipper to succeed. Dhoni as a leader has been profusely resilient throughout the IPL, and how can one forget his tremendous display in the 2010 IPL, where he single handily got his team to the semi-finals. But this time around a situation arose, which was definitely very unlike MS Dhoni. As Pune kept on losing games, Dhoni would often be witnessed speaking weird things in the post-match presentation. Calling star batsman Kevin Pietersen’s injury a “blessing in disguise” was one such instance. The fact remained that this time; Dhoni seemed in no mood to accept the underwhelming performance of his side and rather made excuses which didn’t suit him at all.
Gambhir on the other hand has been extremely resilient as a skipper in the IPL. Who can forget his dreadful start to the 2014 IPL, where he began with 3 ducks? But soon, Gambhir came back and roared like a lion to get back in form and eventually went on to win the title for the Knight Riders.