April 28, 1999
Leadership is the key
Anyone following the 1999 NBA championship can draw an analogy between the current scenario of the L.A.Lakers and the Indian cricket team.
Both teams have talented players and have the ability to win a championship. Unfortunately, lack of coherence among the players has resulted in dismal performances this season. The success of a team depends on two important things: the leader of the team, who can motivate his teammates, and team spirit, which inculcates killer instincts. It has been proved time and again that any mediocre team, if it is highly motivated, can do wonders in a championship.
If we take a look at the 1983 World Cup, Indians were the underdogs but were the first team to beat the mighty West Indies ever in a World ,Cup and that too in their very first encounter. (Windies had won the 1975 and 1979 World Cup without losing a single match). This victory was followed by two crucial wins, first against Zimbabwe at Trent Bridge, where Kapil Dev hammered 175; and next against Australia, when Roger Binny and Madan Lal took four wickets each to bowl out Australians for a paltry 129.
By the time Indians reached the semifinals, they had already started appreciating the acumen of the Indian skipper and the rest is history. This is a true example of inspirational leadership, which brings cohesiveness inside the team. In 1992, Pakistan was almost out of the tournament after facing defeat from the first three matches. But, it was Imran Khan who with his vast experience, reorganized his team. He analyzed the strength of his opponents, made strategies and motivated the players. One can never forget the semifinal match between Pakistan and New Zealand, which showed the immense talent Imran had to lead a side to victory.
In 1996, Ranatunga became the first captain after Clive Lloyd to win the World Cup without being defeated even once during the championship. It was a major upset for many people -- however; Sri Lankans deserved the victory, mainly because there was a contribution from each and every player of the team. It was very heartening to see the dedication inside the team. This is the most important factor for victory in a big tournament like World Cup.
At present, the Indian team is disjointed. Now the onus is on the skipper to build the team before they go into the tournament. Whenever the crests of two waves meet, it amplifies the output. This simple physics principle is applicable to the performance of a team. Best results can only be achieved when all the players bring out the best talent they have in themselves and in each other. The man on the driver seats cannot take things for granted. If he lets his team loose, then it (the team) will lose.
My only request to the Indian cricket team manager is to show the team, before every match they play, the video recording of the India v/s Pakistan quarterfinal match of the 1996 World Cup. At least then, the team will realize the potential they have and understand the expectation of 900 million Indians.
Editor's note: This is a guest column. If you want to write a column for us, here's how to go about it.