Captain's influence on the team's performance is much like the electric-assist on the bicycles. You need to put in the initial couple of pedals for the motor to kick in and then your subsequent pedals are eased off with the electric assist. Failing to pedal at any point will only slow down the bicycle putting extra pressure on legs. So a bad motor read non-performing-captain will not only slow down the bike but also make the manual pedaling tougher so is the converse true.
While the nation awaits for the one last show at 2012 IPL championship, its time for some retrospection from the captain's perspective for the future. During this course of 70 odd games for over 6 weeks of INDIAN summer we have noticed some stunning individual performances. Some crucial moves and some lame team selections and some brain freezes from the captains. Some players have stepped up and have answered a few if and but questions, some continued to be a flash in the pan and some have proved that they are still mediocre and will continue to be as is. There would be time in every cricketer's life i-wish-i-captained-a-team moment. Some earned it, some were entrusted upon.
DJ Hussey, Gambhir have been the stand out electric-assists who have made use of the resources and turned them into gold. Nobody had given Kings Punjab a chance pre and post Gilchrist limp, but DJ inspired his troops with some tactical and logical moves. Probably only DJ figured out that Praveen Kumar is worth gold only when used 4 overs upfront. If only Punjab had consistent foreign players the out come of the games would have been different.
Gambhir realized that he is the best opener in the hut and KKR's fortune took a giant leap. He brought back the left armers charm back in to cricket making a mockery of the commentary's theory of can't-play-2-left armers-in-a-team. Eden has proved to be a slow track and he chose his bowlers based on that. He has proved that playing your best bowler in a game is the key, even if it means playing all 3 spinner. In a era where off-spinners-can't-be-attaching Gambhir used Sunil Narine as an attacking bowler which made him even more deadly. No wonder batsman chanted Narayan Narayan.
Sehwag's captaincy began to yield much like his batting on green conditions. He inspired DD with his attacking bowling options and murderous batting. 3 bowlers bowling at 90 Mph is a Neighbors-envy-owner's-pride moment, bundle it with 2 good left armers is beyond decent attack. Suddenly lack of logic or baseless instincts got the better of him. Nobody can decipher why Taylor was batting so low down the order, or why Morkel was expelled at Russel's exp or why Venugopal played so many less games. Who and why was Sunny Gupta bowling his first over of IPL on a crucial game? Frankly all these have one word answer Sehwagology. Your guess is a good as mine, yup see-the-ball-hit-the-ball.
Harbhajan believed in the theory that every bottle needs new opener each time. The fact that who opens with Sachin was decided with a role of dice on the roulette table is pretty amazing. Only thing that was consistent in the team was Malinga's boot yorkers. Not playing Pragyan Ojha meant he didn't enjoy too many variations and options, just like his bowling his captaincy was guiless, flat and straight. And no-of-balls Pollard bowled out numbered the balls he was allowed to face only meant, Bhajji was promoting INDIAN batsman. Assuming that a bowler will bowl with the same accuracy in two different spells is like assuming a first innings centurion to score another in the 2nd innings. There is something called rhythm and condition which the bowler was in, breaking it is a sin and was evident in Dhawal's bowling. After bowling 2 good overs decision to give a 3rd over is the tipping point for a team in this IPL. Of-course cricketing logic doesn't prevail when malinga is bowling.
Ganguly with his limited T20 abilities could only take a team so far; inspiration, motivation and strategy can only be productive when there are legs to execute it. Pune was low cost motor with weak legged cyclist who had a huge heart. It would be an under-statement to say they over-achieved with the talent they had. They had second string players from each team and who lacked big game abilities. Nothing much needs to be spoken about Ganguly's captaincy it's all proved and up for display.
Kohli couldn't in fact use Spin-King-Murli a suffocating-bowler than a bullet-in-the-head bowler was the reason why RCB were in the situation which they didn't want to be in. Lack of competency from the locals/Virat meant Vetori had to step down to play Murli. And Gayle-can-chase-anything led to the defensive bowling. Also Gayle-de-Villiers heroics and Vinay-n-co's anti-heroics made captains role inconsequential overshadowing any role a captain could play.
One innings of murdering mediocre bowlers plus one-off-day-for-malinga neither makes Dhoni a good T20 batsmen nor his lackluster on-field captaincy and could inspire any one. Fact that all his misfire-ploys are treated as experiments by the critics is baffling. He is the only captain in the entire sporting history to manipulate his batting positions based on situations. Looking after teams-interest is one view not-exposing-weakness is other view, intelligent can take their pick.
It's a conundrum how people just up their game when playing for CSK, neither Morkel nor Bravo have played so consistently for any other team for such a long duration. The fact that Vijay n Ashwin step up when they play for CSK led us believe there is something magical about the team meetings.
So its not just CSK vs KKR this Sunday, but its a battle 2 future INDIAN ELECTRIC-ASSIST MOTOR banking on its strong foreign legs to cross the finish line.