Regular skipper Virat Kohli might have been rested for the ongoing Asia Cup, keeping his workload in mind, but for the youngsters in the team, they have their favourite ‘Mahi bhai’ to fall on for any problem. Ambati Rayudu had said on Saturday that MS Dhoni’s presence was a big boost for this team in Kohli’s absence. Interestingly, Rayudu isn’t the only one who feels that Dhoni plays perfect second fiddle to skipper Kohli in this Indian limited-overs unit when it comes to the role of mentoring the players and helping them cope with the pressure of international cricket.
A member of the current set-up said that the best part about the combination of Dhoni and Kohli is how they make the youngsters feels at home.
“Mahi bhai is very supportive of the young players coming into the team. Not even for a moment do you feel that you are entering into a team of champions. Even at the nets, you will see him always helping the bowlers. He guides them on how to prepare for a game from his own experience and what he has seen on the wicket. The best part is that when we walk out to field, after a couple of overs he will tell the bowlers exactly which are the areas to bowl on and how the bowler needs to work on his speed and variations. Similarly, Virat bhai likes to give the players freedom to express himself and not get bogged down by the pressure of representing the country,” he said.
Kohli had recently in an interview said that his job was as much to mentor youngsters in the team as it was to take the team forward in its journey to become the best in the world across all formats.
Another youngster in the Indian set-up said that the duo of Kohli and Dhoni make it a delight to be a part of the squad. “When you come in initially, you feel a little wary to approach them. But you soon realise that they are very approachable and welcoming. The decisions are taken in unison and Dhoni bhai is always there to bring up any ploy or strategy that might strike him on the field. He is almost like the fielding vice-captain who is constantly guiding us. Leading a team isn’t easy, but Dhoni bhai plays the perfect second fiddle and makes the job that much easier for Kohli bhai,” he revealed.
Another player who has also played with Dhoni in the Indian Premier League said: “His door is always open. You want a suggestion? You can just go and speak to him. Clarity is something that makes him special. With Kohli also, he gives you that freedom. The fact that he talks of fearless cricket is backed by his actions. If you are comfortable with something, he won’t try to boss around and change that. He is happy to let you try your options and plans. Only when it doesn’t work does he work on a Plan B. Also, they (Dhoni and Kohli) understand each other really well and for them nothing comes before the team,” the player said.
When announcing his decision to step-down as skipper of the limited overs team, Dhoni had said that he was looking to help Kohli in every possible way from behind the stumps. Kohli had said that the former captain’s inputs would be priceless. Clearly, Dhoni has kept his word to be Kohli’s ‘unofficial’ vice-captain as the team looks to prepare to fight the best in the World Cup in England next year.