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by Harsh Kalan|Posted on Jul 4th 2012| Rating
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Legendary Leader: Kapil Dev

 

Early Days

A wiry Kapil Dev emerged out of nowhere to take a six-wicket haul on his Ranji Trophy debut for Haryana. The then-16-year-old helped bowl out Punjab for just 63 in that innings. Thereafter, he gradually rose up the ranks, until he became one of the hottest domestic prospects in India.

Kapil Dev was soon picked up for prestigious tournaments like Irani Trophy, Duleep Trophy and Wills Trophy. He was soon on the radar of national selectors, after impressing at every intermediate level.







Claim To Fame


Kapil Dev made his Test debut as a wide-eyed 19-year-old. The bowling all-rounder couldn't live up the hype with the ball, but he did score a 33-ball half-century in his maiden international series against Pakistan at Karachi. 

Over the next couple of seasons, Kapil Dev's star kept rising as he put up memorable performances against good teams like England and Australia. However, he became a household name during the Indo-Pak series in 1979-80; that was when he took 11 wickets and scored a match-winning 84 in a Test match at Chennai. It was then that he became the youngest Test player to clock a 100 wickets and 1,000 runs!

Thereafter, Kapil Dev, along with Sunil Gavaskar, became India's mainstay for nearly a decade.








Brave Leadership 


In the aftermath of a disastrous tour of Pakistan, 23-year-old Kapil Dev was tasked with leading Team India for the first time. His leadership produced mixed results, but the selectors persisted with it seeing as how a stable leader was required ahead of the 1983 World Cup.

The World Cup, of course, was Kapil Dev's crowning glory! In an event that shocked the cricketing fraternity, Kapil's Devils stunned fans and bookmakers alike as they overcame all odds to beat the mighty West Indies in the finals. 

Kapil Dev's success as a captain can be attributed more to the balanced side he lead than to his skills as a leader. Always an emotional costumer, he was far from a composed skipper. Having said that, he often led India to improbable victories singlehandedly. 

During his final years as captain, there was a reported row between him and Gavaskar, who was at the tailend of his career--which may be comparable to the (alleged) Dhoni-Sehwag rift! Although he was no longer captain, Kapil Dev continued to be an important part of the Indian team till his retirement in 1994.

As a Test captain he won four out of the 34 games in which he lead--he lost seven. On the other hand, his win-loss record in ODIs was much more impressive--40 wins and 32 losses in 74 games.












Key Strengths


Kapil Dev's strength was his bowling. Although he was a genuine all-rounder, who had a healthy Test average (31.05), he was best known for taking key wickets. Along with being a one-time highest Test wicket-taker, Kapil Dev also has 23 five-wicket Test hauls to his name.

As far as batting was concerned, Kapil Dev was a flambouyant stroke-maker. In an era when players used lighter bats, he thrived on a prodigious swing--which has served him well as a weekend golfer post retirement! He even had an array of cross-batted strokes in his armoury that won India many matches.








Lasting Legacy 


Despite having played international cricket at a time when over-commercialization was still some ways off, Kapil Dev had his fair share of sponsors. He even did TV spots for few of them, including a famous one for Palmolive. While he may not have earned the big bucks players do today, he was one of Indian cricket's foremost marketable cricketers.

Meanwhile, on the field, Kapil Dev's legacy is immeasurable! One can attempt to define this great all-rounder with his 434 Test wickets or his feats as captain. Alas, these will always prove inadequate in summing up the man who won India the biggest prize in cricket exactly 50 years after the nation's Test debut!

New-Age Phenom: MS Dhoni

 

Early Days

This Ranchi-native started out as a soccer goalie, but soon took a liking to wicketkeeping. His trademark poise led him to great--unexpected--heights in a realtively short while. After debuting for Bihar at just 18, MS made an immediate impact in the domestic circuit. 

Upon scoring big runs in the Ranji Trophy, he was tapped by national talent scouts as a future India cricketer. He was even impressive with the newly-formed Jharkhand team, and soon got the call-up to the India A side. Ironically, the then-India A coach, Sandeep Patil recommended Dinesh Karthik over Dhoni for a possible spot in the national side.


Claim To Fame

In his debut against Bangladesh in 2004, Dhoni was famously run-out for a duck. He had a sub-par tour, but was still chosen to play against Pakistan in a home ODI series. It was only in his fifth match that the long-locked wicketkeeper from Ranchi showed his true colors. In his typical nonchalant destructive manner Dhoni scored 148 in just 123 balls, which was the then-highest score by an Indian gloveman--a record he incidentally broke in 2005 itself!

The knock we speak of was, of course, his brilliant 183* against Sri Lanka in a successful chase of 300. That was when everyone knew for sure that this confident young man was no one-hit wonder. And soon, he made his Test debut, and ever since he hasn't looked back.

While he may not be the best wicketkeeper in the world--or even in India--Dhoni is now an indispensable part of Team India. Without him, the playing XI looks unbelievable incomplete!


Brave Leadership 

After India's forgettable 2007 World Cup campaign, a major overhaul was on the cards. Very soon, Dhoni found himself in the role of vice-captain for the 2007 tour of England. His impressive performances led to him being assigned the team's Twenty20 captaincy; and his first assignment was the 2007 World T20.

This tournament went a long way in sealing Dhoni's reputation as a natural leader. From his gutsy bowling changes and field placings to his calm demeanor, it was obvious that Team India had found it's next great skipper. Dhoni's inspired lot ended up winning the 2007 World T20; and thus, the proverbial Midas touch was born.

Captain Cool led the Men in Blue with unprecedented style and class as they overcame the stiffest of opponents. In fact, his great leadership has been on full display in the IPL as well. Dhoni's Chennai Super Kings have not only made it to the knockout stages of this competitive league every single year since its inception, but they've also won it a record two times.

However, Dhoni's biggest acheivement as captain has to be the 2011 World Cup triumph. While he was criticized for his poor form and for trying his luck one too many times with shocking bowling changes, Dhoni came through for his team when it really mattered. His 79-ball 91-run unbeaten cup-winning innings is etched in the minds of all his fans and critics alike!

Dhoni's overall captaincy record is up there with the best skippers to have led Team India. Under him, India has won 17 Tests and lost 11. His win-loss record in ODIs stands at 68-41. 


Key Strengths

While Kapil Dev was a bowling all-rounder, Dhoni is a wicketkeeper-batsman--with an emphasis on the 'batsman' bit. This aggresive middle-order batter boasts one of the best averages in ODIs--51.70. His Test numbers, on the other hand, are on the lower side; his batting average in the five-day game is a little over 37.

As far as his 'keeping is concerned, Dhoni is clearly no Adam Gilchrist, but he is afterall a big step up from the guy he replaced at that position--Rahul Dravid! Besides, standing behind the wickets allows him to direct traffic in the middle, especially in crunch situations.

Another major strength of Dhoni's is his erudite calm aura. No matter how hopeless a situation his team is facing, it can always rely on the wise MSD for an out-of-the-box solution!


Lasting Legacy 

Unlike Kapil Dev, Dhoni's talent has been justly rewarded in his time. From lucrative playing contracts to multi-million dollar deals, the current India skipper has cashed in on his abilities, and how. He has been, for the last few years, the richest cricketer in the world--leaving behind the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh and Ricky Ponting. In fact, he currently ranks among the richest sportsmen in the world!

When it comes to on-field legacy, just like Kapil Dev, Mahi's contribution to Indian cricket seems endless! From winning back the World Cup after 28 long years to ushering a new breed of aggressive cricketers into the Indian team, MSD has played a big role in the way the world perceives his team. Thanks to cricketers like him, Indians are well and truly setting trends--be it fashion or otherwise--instead of following them!

Who do you think is a better leader?

 Kapil Dev

 MS Dhoni

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