The cool demeanour shown by Mahendra Singh Dhoni has made India a crack side in limited overs cricket, feels head coach Duncan Fletcher. The Zimbabwean will relinquish his position at the end of the ICC World Cup starting next month. (Dhoni Gears up For Title Defence, Has World Cup Final in Sight)
Fletcher rarely speaks to the media. Often at the receiving end of critics for India's poor overseas Test performances, a stoical Fletcher has used the golden rule of silence to defend himself. But in his last leg with Team India, the former England coach may just throw some more team insight. In a rare interview to the BCCI's website, Fletcher was all praise for Dhoni and said his attitude makes India a top contender for the upcoming World Cup.
Dhoni and Fletcher gelled well after Gary Kirsten quit following the 2011 World Cup triumph. The skipper was all praise for Fletcher when India made the final of the 2013 ICC Champions Trophy in UK. "He has taken care of the technical issues like batting very well and that has taken a big load off me," Dhoni had said. The respect for each other still continues. (Dhoni Mum on Shock Test Retirement)
The success of a team depends on a few critical dressing room equations. Ganguly and Greg Chappell never made a great combination; Tendulkar and Kapil Dev had their share of problems but Dhoni and Flecther probably taught the team how to handle pressure. (Kohli Should Have Say in Choosing Next India Coach: Jones)
Reports of younger players flaring up during the recent Test series against Australia may not be absolutely 'a thrilling movie script'. Probably, the air of calmness was being thrown to the winds and that was one reason Dhoni quit Tests. Fletcher would certainly know. (India, Pakistan Get New Kits Before World Cup)
"It (Dhoni's calmness) does rub off on the team as a whole but as individuals, it is not something you can impart to someone. Your upbringing and nature determines that. It is very difficult to teach someone how to be calm under pressure. MS knows how to do it himself but how do you explain how it is done to someone else? It comes from within," said Fletcher. That's actually saying a lot. (New Jersey Will Erase Distractions)
Fletcher feels Dhoni's attitude has enabled the team win three ICC events - the 2011 World Cup, the T20 World Cup in 2007 and the Champions Trophy. The ability to win games chasing was key and the margin of victory was not important, said Fletcher.
"One-day cricket is all about handling extreme pressure when the side is down; understanding where the game is poised at that stage and finding your way out of that situation to end up on the winning side. Our excellent record when chasing totals shows that. (India Threat During World Cup: Hussey)
"The team has been led by MS Dhoni's attitude. Most other sides can't do it because under such pressure, you lose your cool, the decision-making becomes cluttered and you lose your way. Because MS is so adept at soaking in the pressure, we have done well in those situations.
"It is important to be calm and take the game all the way and win with maybe three balls to spare. People might say, 'Oh, they barely got home', but getting home is the most important thing," the 66-year-old said.
Fletcher will be gone for sure. Dhoni's future in limited overs cricket will always remain in the realm of conjecture. The post-World Cup days are surely going to be dramatic.