'Ship stable' despite two captains in Indian team

  • Khurram Habib, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 14, 2015 22:31 IST

When India stepped on Australian soil just over a month-and-half back, MS Dhoni was all-powerful and, without doubt, in complete charge of the India team. Even though he missed the first Test, there was no doubt about his position at the helm.

Things began to change from Adelaide and by the end of the Test series, the India camp had two leaders with varied personalities.

Virat Kohli is aggressive, speaks his mind to even close friends, as was evident from the dressing room brawl, while Dhoni prefers silence, long explanations and guards his close mates fiercely.

It is anybody's guess then, knowing Indian cricket's recent history, that somewhere down the line there could be differences.

Not long ago, Dhoni's tiff with former mates like Virender Sehwag and VVS Laxman made the headlines with former selector Mohinder Amarnath making known his dissatisfaction and suggesting Sehwag's name as an alternative. Gautam Gambhir too had some issues.

Tough phase

The situation was volatile and Dhoni had a tough time staying afloat with only the vote of the then BCCI supremo N Srinivasan keeping him there.

Dhoni is known as a skipper who picks the men he trusts irrespective of their ability in a format. And, they've always been fiercely loyal to him. At the Sydney Cricket Ground, Suresh Raina wore Dhoni's jersey to honour the retired skipper. R Ashwin said he doesn't like to yap on the field. It was probably a dig at the Australians but his new Test skipper Kohli and his close mate Rohit Sharma like using words explicitly and prefer to pay the opposition in kind.

There is no doubt that two captains, one on the wane and the other on the rise, can easily be a reason for disquiet.

The saving grace, according to experts, however is Dhoni's seniority and his leadership skills in the shorter form.

Acid test

Former India skipper Bishan Singh Bedi says, "Most of the boys have known Dhoni. They've played long enough and are mature. He is the senior-most, the most experienced and they know it."

While Dhoni's batsmanship and his wicket-keeping skills were always questioned in Tests, there was no doubt about his skills in one-day cricket. Former players have said that Dhoni remained a poor skipper in Tests because he was not a good Test player.

"In one-dayers, the equations change. There will be absolutely no problem. Dhoni is the boss in the shorter format. That much is clear. He is way more experienced than anyone else and is a match-winner. All these players have played under him including Virat and have developed under him," says former India batsman Gundappa Viswanath.

Former India batsman and ex-India coach Anshuman Gaekwad feels, "Now that Dhoni has quit as Test skipper, he will come out completely focused in ODIs. There will be single-minded focus. He has been the skipper in limited-overs format for quite a while and he knows how to manage his resources."

Earlier this month, Virat made it clear that he respects Dhoni's decision. In fact, there is a feeling that the current crop may already start to look up to him.

"The picture is now clear. I was foreseeing it. It had to happen and it has happened," says Maninder Singh, former India spinner.

"I think Dhoni should have retired after the England Tests. But even now I don't think there should be a problem. Virat has shown the same intensity while playing under Dhoni and that will also rub on to the others and help the team."


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