Though MS Dhoni is not the official captain, he has still not stepped down from the leadership role on the field, no matter who is present at the coin toss or how effective Virat Kohli is on the field. Dhoni can be seen giving instructions to the bowlers, giving them an insight to what the batsman prepares to do on the next delivery. The Captain Cool also sets the field for the bowlers and constantly talks to them, suggesting them how to bowl and which line to not take.
There is no denying the fact that current Indian skipper across all formats has put up a remarkable record under his reign till now. But with Dhoni present on the field, even Kohli does not hold himself back to ask for advice and make use of the former’s experience.
Everyone has noticed Kohli walking up to Dhoni from time to time when he is in two minds while taking DRS. He has a similar approach in Tests with Wriddhiman Saha as well but Dhoni gives a near-perfect judgment everytime he is consulted. On the other hand, Saha refrains from making the decision on whether to go for DRS or not.
Guiding the young spinners
Dhoni helps the youngsters on and off the field. He sets the field for them, suggests them to bowl in areas he feels that batsman will struggle in and when the bowler fails, he backs them to come back harder. A similar incident took place in the first ODI at Chennai against Australia. Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav received on-the-job feedbacks as Dhoni helped them pitch the ball in right areas.
When Kuldeep was getting bashed by Glenn Maxwell Dhoni advised him by saying, ”Na, na, na. Isko itna aage nahi (No, not this too full-pitched).” He did not lash out at Kuldeep when he was struck for sixes. Instead, on the last ball of the over, he said to him, “Abhi bhi wicket aaye to acha hai“.
There have been times when Dhoni asked the bowler to bowl a wide which resulted in a stumping chance. Chahal’s wide ball created a similar chance against Mathew Wade as well. His instructions to Chahal were spot-on as well, ”Woh maarne wala dalna, andar ya baahar koi bhi (Bowl the one that he tries to hit, either turning in or out). To top it all, he hinted,”Woh ghoomne wala (The one which turns).”
Batting patiently with batsmen in tough times
This story is not just with the bowlers but batsmen as well. His experience comes into play when the team is in trouble and he needs to stitch a partnership with the lower middle order. He advised Bhuvneshwar Kumar to bat like it is Test cricket when Sri Lankan bowler Akila Dananjaya wreaked havoc on Indian batting lineup. The partnership eventually led to India’s win as they snatched victory from the hands of Sri Lankans.
The most recent one being his match-winning partnership with all-rounder Hardik Pandya against Australia in the first ODI. Surprisingly Pandya kept his calm in the initial part of the partnership barring a few shots. It was Dhoni who made sure that Pandya gets the strike when he was on song. Dhoni makes it his responsibility to stay on till the end and justify his title as a ‘finisher’.
Dhoni will continue to play his role as a mentor cum veteran player for the side. Sometimes it seems to people who follow the game closely that Dhoni is leading the team because of his actions on the field. A captain never really stops being a captain until he retires. Team India will continue to feature two captains on the field until the World Cup 2019 at least.