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Mahendra Singh Dhoni's elevation as captain of India's one-day international squad has been on the cards from the time Rahul Dravid's decision not to lead Team India became known last week. It was the logical decision to make since it would not have made much sense to go back to either Sachin Tendulkar or Sourav Ganguly.
The selectors have been wise and have named the 26-year-old, who has played 84 one-day internationals and 20 Tests, to lead the team for two series or 12 one-day internationals, giving him ample time to get his bearings and give the team direction in keeping with his vision. He has proved himself to be a good student of the game and can be expected to be a good skipper.
There is no reason why he cannot work with three former captains in the side – Dravid, Ganguly and Tendulkar – and with two others who have been in the consideration for the job at some time or the other, Yuvraj Singh and, whenever he returns to the ODI squad, Virender Sehwag. He has got along well with each one of them as much as he has with the juniors in the ranks
It has been a fascinating journey for the young man from Ranchi who made his international debut less than three years ago and has held the nation in thrall with his explosive batting. It will be hoped that the additional responsibility of looking after 14 or 15 others will not affect either his batting or his wicket-keeping.
Dhoni has got a task on hand before he can cast his mind to the one-day series against Australia inarguably the world's best side. He has the none-too-small matter of inspiring his team to successive victories over England and South Africa to steer India into the semifinals of the ICC World Twenty20 tournament.
From what we have seen of him, he can be a good leader of men but by no means is he a finished product yet. Captaincy can be very stressful as a certain Rahul Dravid will tell you and Dhoni will have to shoulder In the T20 game against New Zealand, Dhoni made a couple of tactical mistakes – both involving Yuvraj Singh.
First, he got his vice-captain to bowl an extra over of left-arm spin in the death to let Craig McMillan and Jacob Oram score 25 runs off that over. Then, when India was chasing 191 to win, the captain promoted himself ahead of Yuvraj Singh and India lost the momentum that Sehwag and Gambhir had given the side with a 76 run stand inside six overs.
The good thing is he has retained his native sense of humour during his interactions with the media and the players, showing an ability to be stern with them when any of them have been out of line with the team interest His rise to national captaincy will spark more dreams in young minds in India's hinterland and that can only be exciting for the game in the country.