MS Dhoni stepping down as India's captain was termed as the end of an era. The Jharkhand cricketer is India's most successful captain in ODIs. The wicketkeeper-batsman, who has earned the moniker of 'Captain Cool' for his calm demeanour on the field even in most tense situations, is the only captain to win ODI World Cup, World T20 and Champions Trophy.
They say legends never retire, similarly, Dhoni never really gave up the role of leader. Virat Kohli is the new captain and he leads the team from the front, but Dhoni continues to lead from behind the stumps. And no, we are not talking about the catches or the super-quick stumpings. Dhoni has been Kohli's go-to man for Decision Review System (DRS) reviews, field positions and strategy to counter opposition batsmen. The former skipper also continues to be the guiding light for the young bowlers.
In the absence of experience spinners like Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandran Ashwin, Dhoni guided newbies Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav to architect the downfall of Australian batsmen during the firs ODI at Chennai.
According to a report in Indian Express, the wicket-keeper kept dishing words of wisdom to the young spinners, who took five wickets together to guide India to a 26-run victory. The tidbits were captured on the stump mic.
Dhoni instructed Yadav to bowl little short to David Warner. “Thoda peeche dalo na (pull your length back a bit),” Dhoni bawled at Kuldeep as Warner is a dominant back-foot player and the glovesman knew that he will try to take the unnecessary risk to cut the ball. The strategy worked and Warner fell trying to cut a flipper
He was also heard giving instructions like, “Woh maarne waala daal naa, andar yaa baahar koi bhi (bowl the one where he attempts to hit, turning in or away, anything is fine)". After the mach, Yadav revealed in the interview how Dhoni helped him to plan his wickets during the match.
The former skipper also regularly kept on urging the spinners to keep bowling “ghumane waala daal, ghumane waala (bowl the one that turns)”.
Glenn Maxwell was Australia's best batsman on the day with 39 off 18 deliveries. His explosive hitting proved a little intimidating for Chahal as he was off the mark in the beginning and that didn't go down well with Dhoni, Tu bhi nahin sunta hai kya? (You too don’t listen?),” Dhoni yelled at the leg-spinner.
The spinner didn't take long to find his line and earned Dhoni's admiration. "Aise, aise dalo (yes, keep bowling like this),” is how Dhoni complimented the leg-spinner after he got his act right.
It was nothing new from Dhoni. The Ranchi lad has delivered numerous funny and instructive tidbits during his playing career.
When Dhoni decided to quit the captaincy role, Kohli praised his senior by tweeting that the former would always be his captain. Kohli also stated that Dhoni is the leader that a youngster wants around him.
Thanks for always being the leader a youngster wants to have around him. You'll always be my captain @msdhoni Bhai 😊😊— Virat Kohli (@imVkohli) January 6, 2017
The Sunday match was another example of why Dhoni is so highly respected in the dressing room and continues to have a telling influence on the team.
(Feature image: AFP)