Supporting players and unearthing talent are things that can generally be expected from a captain, but MS Dhoni’s contributions in these areas go beyond giving the squad a good bowler, a dependable batter.
He has transformed careers in ways that the team is going to benefit from them for decades. Here are some players who got chances/second chances thanks to Dhoni, and the rest is history.
1. Rohit Sharma
One of MS Dhoni’s biggest gifts to the Indian cricket team is Rohit Sharma, the opener. Before the historic Champions Trophy that India won in 2013, MS asked Rohit to open and that changed his entire career – by the batter’s own admission. In an interview given to PTI, Sharma had said:
I believe the decision to open in ODIs changed my career and it was a decision taken by MS Dhoni. He (Dhoni) just came up to me and said ‘I want you to open the innings as I am confident that you will do well. Since you can play both cut and pull shot well, you have the qualities to succeed as an opener’. He told me that I shouldn’t be scared of failures or get upset by criticism.
2. Ravindra Jadeja
Jadeja is enjoying possibly the best form of his entire career but back in 2018, things were not looking so rosy for the all-rounder. That is when MS Dhoni gave him the confidence to bounce back. In an interaction in 2021, Jadeja admitted that Dhoni has had a great impact on his career.
Dhoni bhai always keeps telling me that whenever I get an opportunity, just think that like you are feeling the pressure, the bowler is feeling it as well. So don’t think just about yourself, but also the bowler. He has been an amazing influence in my career.
3. Kedar Jadhav
Kedar has played 73 ODIs for India and on his day, can wreak havoc on the opposition. However, if you ask him if he expected this, his answer will probably be a no. He did not expect to play more than 20 games for India and says that he owes such a long almost entirely run to MS.
With my potential, maybe I would have played 20-odd matches. But if I have played four times that figure I owe it to MS Dhoni. He has helped me to express my game. He always had a calming effect on me. If you get that kind of confidence from your captain, then there is nothing more you need
4. Dwayne Bravo
IPL has presented a great opportunity for Dwayne Bravo, and the West Indian has returned the favour by giving some class performances over the years. He has been one of CSK’s best and credits the franchise, and particularly MS Dhoni for the emergence of Bravo 2.0.
CSK remade Dwayne Bravo. I’ve asked myself many times, why someone like MS has so much faith in me. My own board and selectors don’t have the same faith. But Mahi respects my talent and the way I play the game. That means a lot to me.
5. Virat Kohli
In cricket, one decision can make or break a person’s entire career, and so MS Dhoni’s call to back Virat Kohli after the latter failed to perform in Australia in 2012 becomes extremely crucial. Virat had not been able to perform in his first few Tests and the selectors were about to drop him for Rohit Sharma when Dhoni stepped in and stopped them from doing so. Virat went on to score 75 in his next match.
Speaking about the same, Sanjay Manjerkar told Sony Sports Network:
He was a young man who actually was on the verge of getting dropped after Sydney. Dhoni backed him; he played in Perth scored a 70.
6. Hardik Pandya
In his own words, Pandya had thought that his career in the format was all but over after he gave around 20 runs in his first over on his T20 debut. However, MS sent him to bowl again, and that proved to be a great confidence booster for the all-rounder. Sometimes, it’s as simple as that. You can change someone’s life with just a few words, just a few overs, an extra chance.
I remember giving 22 or 24 runs (19) in my first over on (T20I) debut and I genuinely thought it’s my first and last game. So, when he asked me to bowl the second over, I thought he’s referring to someone else. Then I went and obviously, things changed. So, what I learnt from him is that he never showed he’s there but he was always there.
Most of these players went on to become captains of the national team or IPL squads, so you can say that Dhoni’s instincts, once again, were on point.