Mahendra Singh Dhoni can do it all. He has won the Test mace, World Cup, the World T20, Champions Trophy, IPL, Champions League T20. He is one of the most destructive batsmen the game has seen and also one of the safest keepers in contemporary cricket. Then there is that thing about him being one of the coolest captains in the history of the game.
When Dhoni led Chennai Super Kings to their third IPL in Mumbai, it proved to be another feather in the cap for the wicketkeeper batsman as he proved once again that when it comes to winning titles, he is in a league of his own.
There are lessons to be learned from Dhoni’s leadership skills and winning mentality. One person in particular who can benefit from Dhoni’s tactics is current India and Royal Challengers Bangalore skipper Virat Kohli who has failed over the years to win the IPL despite having a star-studded team.
Here are three things Kohli can learn from Dhoni that might help him become a more successful captain in IPL and maybe also in big tournaments at the international level.
STAY CALM BUT ASSERTIVE
Aggression is good. And you don’t get any more aggressive than Virat Kohli. But there is a fine like between being aggressive and reckless. Dhoni lost his cool on a few occasions in the IPL, but the his overall demeanour remained calm and controlled. While Kohli enjoys his fist pumping and cursing, Dhoni gets his point across with a stare, smirk or a shake of the head.
Every captain has his own personality and Kohli has come this far by being Kohli. However, it won’t hurt to add a dash of Dhoni’s coolness to his captaincy. At least he will be a lot more endearing to fans.
HAVE FAITH IN PROVEN PERFORMERS
Dhoni put his faith in players like Suresh Raina, Ambati Rayudu, Shane Watson, Dwayne Bravo, Harbhajan Singh. Players who can be termed as old but who have experience under their belt with some having performed consistently over the years.
Getting the best out of proven performers is a fine art which Kohli hasn’t mastered. You only need to look at Cheteshwar Pujara’s suicidal run outs in Tests after being asked to up the scoring pace or the muddled policy when it comes to KL Rahul in limited overs internationals to see how perfectly fine players can be pushed off track with the wrong nudge.
Similarly, at RCB he decided to retain the undoubtedly talented Sarfaraz Khan but it looks like the 20-year-old batsman’s game has gone back after a poor IPL 2018.
Admittedly, it Dhoni was the one who began the process of the phasing ‘veterans’ like Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir et all out of the Indian limited overs team six years back. But he had his reasons.
Still, Kohli can learn a thing or two from Dhoni about long-term investment.
UNDERSTAND PLAYERS’ LIMITATIONS
As much as one enjoys Dhoni's calmness, we all love how Kohli plays the game. It is not to compare one with the other. Don't have to degrade one to prove the other high. You don't compare fire and ice, both are equally vital. You can pick who you want to admire more, it's fine— Nikhil 🏏 (@CricCrazyNIKS) May 23, 2018
Not every cricketer can be as fit as Kohli. International cricket puts a lot of demands on players’ body but some players have their own way of managing workloads and delivering on the field. Probably it’s not all bad if some players have certain ‘limitations’ as long as they are fit enough and can win matches.
After the IPL final, Dhoni said he knew he had to manage final centurion Shane Watson. “If Shane Watson tries to dive, he may injure his hamstring, so we don’t want him to do that,” Dhoni had said.
That level of understanding does take courage and faith in your own judgment. But it does ensure that the players is indebted to you in a way and will do his best to perform where it matters – not in the gym but on the field.
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