Captain of Indian ODI side - Virat Kohli vs M S DhoniWe have recently seen Virat Kohli captain the India ODI (One Day International) cricket team in 3 matches during the West Indies, Sri Lanka, and India Tri Series. India lost 2 matches captained by him and won the last match against West Indies. The captaincy has been handed over to Virat only because M S Dhoni was unfit to play due to an injury he sustained during one of the matches he was captaining. One thing that has been heard, read, and seen being done by all over the media is the comparison of the captaincy of Virat Kohli and M S Dhoni. I do not think this comparison should be made at all. Afterall, Virat Kohli is only the interim captain of the side, till M S Dhoni recovers from his injury and becomes fit to play again.

Why the comparison between M S Dhoni and Virat Kohli’s captaincy

It has become sort of customary to compare the positions, performances and even lives of people who reach distinguished positions in the public eye. The so called self proclaimed experts do not even take into consideration, the different aspects of the people’s lives and positions before trying to compare them. Comparisons generally are done between entities or things that are similar in most aspects. Similarly, Virat Kohli and M S Dhoni are being compared just after Virat Kohli has been assigned the role of the captain of the Indian ODI side for the remaining parts of the West Indies Tri series and the Zimbabwe series that is about to come.  Here are a few notable publishers that talk about the topic.

Wisden talks about Dhoni – Kohli debate

Kohli looses calm – says NDTV

M S Dhoni vs VIrat Kohli

Virat Kohli overtakes M S Dhoni


Why it is not correct to compare the captaincy of Virat Kohli with that of M S Dhoni

There are many reasons that can be stated in favor of the comparison and many more against it. I would here, list down and explain some of the reasons for which Virat Kohli should not be compared with M S Dhoni in the role of a captain.

M S Dhoni is a Wicket Keeper captain while Virat Kohli is a Batsman Captain.

I am not trying to defend any of the two here. Although M S Dhoni is a captain of the side, he also is the wicket keeper. This I believe gives MSD a unique vantage point. He gets to see the ground in somewhat a similar way as the batsman ready to take on the ball sees it. This may not sound like a much bigger advantage, it gives some degree of edge when he has to set the field and change the setting occasionally. Virat Kohli on the other hand is an experienced and accomplished batsman himself. He can judge the situation of the match and the need of the moment and set the field based on the bowlers’ requirement. Although every captain takes into consideration the bowlers’ perspective while setting the field, he also thinks about the batsman on the crease and how to stop him from scoring in his strong areas. So, this judgment I believe can be made better if the captain’s perspective of the field is somewhat similar to that of the batsman. Here a wicket keeper gets a natural advantage. I do not want to take away any of the credit for the outstanding performance of M S Dhoni as a captain wicket keeper.

Virat Kohli is a newbie at the job

Virat Kohli is just a beginner at the job of leading the Indian ODI side. The bigger problem is that he is not the only aspirant for the job of captain. There are other players senior to him in the team who are also contenders for the position. Also, M S Dhoni has been the captain of the side for close to 6 years now. So, it is totally unfair to compare Virat Kohli’s captaincy skills to that of MSD.

MSD a born leader

M S Dhoni seems to be a born leader. He knows the nuances of leading the side and taking everyone together to achieve the goals at hand. To expect the same quality of leadership from Virat Kohli is again not going to help him do the job to the best of his abilities. Every person has his or her own leadership style. Similarly success and lack thereof can be a result of the leadership style of the leader and the camaraderie he creates in the team. The success of the team is not only dependent on the captain’s ability to strategize, but also on the efforts of the whole team. It is the team’s collective performance that leads to the success or failure in a game or tournament. So, to expect Virat Kohli to become a success machine within the span of a few games is asking too much of the youngster.

The best critics can do now is to give him some time to hone his leadership skills and build a degree of trust and respect among his teammates. That will take him a long way and help Indian cricket nurture a great captain who is also a good batsman. M S Dhoni became a successful captain not only due to his skills and the luck factor, but after the faith and support of his senior players like Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid.

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