I’ll go with Napoleon Bonaparte. Give me lucky Generals, not good ones if you want me to win the war. Lucky Generals are not an easily found commodity.
But they have that incredible ability to switch the odds in their favour when it looks so bad you can only recall what David Niven said in ‘The Guns of Navarone’: “Someone sat on the cake, the party is over.”
MS Dhoni’s party is not over. And he is a lucky General with skill to boot. He goes into the semi-final battle tonight against the Windies drenched with advice and suggestions on who to play in this crucial match. Buoyed by a gust of good fortune and a slice of personal last ball savvy in the tie against Bangladesh and a surprisingly facile win over the Aussies, Dhoni must be deep into resistance mode about changing the ‘go’ team.
Of course, if the Windies blow India away there will be a cruel fall from grace considering the fickle nature of the billion odd cricket lovers, who are all experts.
Even though his top order has failed to fire on all cylinders, only Dhoni knows that the composite picture is more important than its pieces. To fragment a team that is peaking at just the right time is foolish. Translated into morale that collective factor becomes vital.
Take Yuvraj Singh, who is injured. Don’t bay for his blood. He gets that crucial wicket, he stays for his painfully fought 20 odd runs and has served as the perfect foil for the brilliant Virat Kohli in back to back innings.
Without the visually unspectac- ular Yuvraj effect, India may have been out of the tournament. While the injury to his ankle has sidelined him and compelled Dhoni to induct Manish Pandey it is unlikely the Indian skipper will make any other changes.
This crew has found its rhythm. To mess with it is to practically hand the game over to the Windies. You start changing the mix and the team will splinter.
These guys have enjoyed each other’s company on and off the field where even the banter on the bus and the wisecracks have been a bonding factor.
Even the two openers, Rohit Sharma and Shikhar Dhawan, who have had poor runs, bring something to the table. Dhawan takes his catches and Rohit sprays confidence over the team even when he is not playing well.
Suresh Raina pushes the chariot with his fielding and just adds a little zest to the team spirit, gingers them up as does Jadeja with his humour and his ‘hey this is no big deal how come he got two wickets’ bowling capability.
Nehra plays ‘mother’ and pours encouragement without saying when. These guys have one thing in common – they are pumped and primed for a good showing and this evening could be the moment.
American businessman Bert Lance advising Jimmy Carter, once said, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”
This is where the Dhoni smarts must come into play. There is nothing to fix and he has to resist the pressure and the temptation from official sources to meddle with the team. All too often the desire to win and cover all the bases underscores a need to experiment and bring in fresh blood.
Do that and you break the togetherness and the camaraderie that is giving India this late push and the ones in clover have the backs of the ones having a lean time. Anyone who has ever worn
a uniform will tell you that the espirit de corps is as vital as a bullet in the gun when you face the adversary. Dhoni, an honorary Colonel in the Territorial Army, understands that aspect. Keep the boys together and play for the team.
Odds are unless it is a complete mess up, it should be a walk in the park. Just carry your rabbit’s foot and the boys will carry themselves, skipper.