Virat Kohli MS Dhoni ICC World T20 2016
MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli during ICC World T20 2016 © Getty Images

Virat Kohli has been the heartening aspect of Team India for half a decade now. Unquestionably, his contribution to Indian cricket has been incredibly significant ever since he led a young brigade to a historic triumph in ICC U-19 World Cup 2008. Six years down the line he took over the leadership role in Tests at the age of 26 since MS Dhoni called it a day to relish the shorter formats. And, now, former Team India Director Ravi Shastri believes that Kohli should be at the helm in shorter formats as well, letting Captain Cool enjoy his game. However, can Kohli emulate Dhoni’s sheer brilliance in heading the ever-improving Men in Blue? Read: Virat Kohli should lead India in all formats, feels Ravi Shastri

Difference in Kohli’s and Dhoni’s brand of captaincy:

There is no doubt that Shastri has been at an authoritative position for over two years and has followed the ways of leadership of both Kohli and Dhoni. If truth be told, there are striking dissimilarities in their brands of cricket. While Kohli is expressive, Dhoni is as cool as a cucumber. While Kohli goes all guns blazing right from the word go, Dhoni seems unperturbed in approach throughout entire matches. While Kohli is dominant and aggressive, Dhoni prefers to read the situation and trust his instincts.

Kohli’s unimpressive leadership journey in T20:

Kohli’s genius with bat has never been in question. He is probably the best of this generation, and has achieved feats that even some of the greatest had not at such a young age. But his captaincy record in IPL has not made us sit up and take notice. Despite boasting of quality T20 players, he has failed to win the IPL. Read- MS Dhoni: BCCI to take call on India’s future captain

We do not often hear commentators or sports columnists showering heaps of praises on Kohli’s leadership qualities. We do not often hear the line ‘inspiring bowling change by Kohli’.

Sometimes, like Dhoni, his decisions defy cricketing logic as well. However, unlike Dhoni, he fails to eventually take his team over the line. For example, he dropped Sarfaraz Khan when he was at the peak of his form. Instead, he played Sachin Baby. Undoubtedly, both are capable of scoring runs at brisk pace in the death overs. Nonetheless, Sarfaraz’s ability to manoeuvre the ball in gaps is a huge asset; Baby, on the other hand, can simply clear the rope with ease only when pitched in his favourite area. Read – MS Dhoni: India’s challenge in Zimbabwe will be batting-order

This decision turned out to be a blunder in the IPL final. Yet again, unlike Dhoni, Kohli could not foresee the result of his decision. For example, Dhoni’s decision to take his right-hand glove off when Bangladesh need 2 off the final ball in ICC World T20 2016. In fact, that absolute mastermind by Dhoni left us startled.

Hence, is he ready to replace Dhoni as captain in shorter formats?

Does India need a change in captaincy?

“It’s not that I don’t enjoy the game. This decision (change in captaincy) will be taken by the BCCI. It’s not up to me to decide on that,” Dhoni said in a press conference before heading to Zimbabwe.

This statement clearly suggests that Dhoni is enjoying the game. Thus, Shastri’s statement of letting Dhoni enjoy completely goes for a toss. Read – KL Rahul: Playing IPL along side Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers helping me

Dhoni is in the pink of his health. He runs like the wind. He still finishes off in style (though one must admit that the sheen has worn off somewhat). His wicketkeeping skills, especially to spin, are beyond comparison. He has captained Indian legends from the 1990s as well as the emerging players of the 21st century. He has seen the ups and downs of captaincy.

Since India came forth victorious in ICC Cricket World Cup, Dhoni’s men won the ICC Champions trophy 2013. They reached the final of ICC World T20 2014. They made their way to the semi-finals of ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 and ICC World T20 2016.

These results evidence the fact that the team does not need an unnecessary change in captaincy. Kohli will become Dhoni’s successor one day. There is no doubt he will be a prolific leader.

For now — more than ever — India needs Kohli the batsman. In fact, his fans want Kohli to enjoy his game and not take the burden of captaincy.

Let’s leave that to the relentless Mahendra Singh Dhoni, shouldn’t we?

(Kaustubh S. Mayekar, a reporter at CricketCountry, played cricket at U-16 level. Like his idol Rahul Dravid, he often shadow-practises cricket shots. His Twitter handle is @kaumedy_)