Over the last year or so, the form of Mahendra Singh Dhoni and his place in the ODI team has been discussed threadbare. At the beginning of 2019, it seemed that the former captain of the Indian team is well past his time and may have become a liability on the ODI unit.
But Dhoni responded to criticism with great performances in the ODI series in Australia and New Zealand. With him playing some brilliant innings in the recently concluded Indian Premier League (IPL) also and getting his team to within two runs of winning the title, the veteran keeper-batsman is back to being the darling of the media and fans.
One man who seems to have never lost faith in him is Indian team's current captain Virat Kohli. In an interview to Cricbuzz, Kohli was unhappy with people who have questioned MSD's place in the team. On their criticism, he said: "That's unfortunate. Honestly, I think people lack patience. An odd day here, a poor one there, and chatter becomes endless."
Dhoni still invaluable to the team
The man who took over as captain during 2014/15 Test series in Australia also spoke in no uncertain terms when describing the value of his predecessor. "What can I say about him? My career started under him and few have seen him from so close over the last few years as I have. There's one thing about MS that's far more important than anything else - and there's a lot to him - for him, the team is always above everything else. It's always about the team, no matter what. To top it, look at the experience he brings to the squad and we're richer with it. Some of his dismissals behind the stumps, just recently too (in IPL), were match-changing," he added.
The India skipper also mentioned the importance of Dhoni's presence behind the stumps. "The fact is that MS Dhoni is among the smartest guys in the game. Behind the stumps, as I said, he's priceless. It gives me the freedom to do my thing. Someone like MS is around with a wealth of experience," Kohli added.
It has often been observed by commentators that despite no longer being the captain, MSD seems to play a major role in decision-making. The regular instructions being given by him during a match suggests that he is still actively involved in the formation and implementation of tactics and strategies.
Along with Mahi, the India captain also sees Rohit Sharma as a valuable member of the leadership group. "MS and Rohit - both. The way they've gone about with their respective roles, of captains in IPL, speaks volumes of what they bring to the table. MS in particular has a legacy. So, it augurs so well for this team to have both of them in a leadership role. That's why, the team management decided to have a strategy pool in place which MS and Rohit are part of," the 30-year old revealed.
Rohit Sharma is the captain of Mumbai Indians and has led his team to the title four times, including the latest season. He has also captained India in several ODI and T20I matches where Kohli wasn't available.