Mahendra Singh Dhoni was one of the best captains India ever produced. He still remains to be one of the best ever to lead India across formats. However, Dhoni took a surprising call during India’s tour to Australia in 2014. The former India captain decided to hand over the captaincy reins to Virat Kohli mid-series.
Dhoni stepped down from India’s Test captaincy after the third Test and Kohli got a chance to lead the team in the fourth Test which was played in Adelaide. Kohli led by example and scored twin centuries. But unfortunately for him and India, Australia won the Test and the series, and India had to return empty-handed. Nevertheless, Kohli showed the world what is his team’s approach is going to be from then.
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But even before showing it to the world, Kohli made his approach clear to Dhoni who had just handed the reins to him. Former India’s fielding coach R Sridhar who was a part of the team that toured Australia in 2014, recalled a conversation between Kohli and Dhoni before the last day of the fourth Test in his book “Coaching Beyond: My Days with the Indian Cricket Team”.
Sridhar recalled Dhoni wanted to pass a piece of advice to Kohli on how to handle the team while the latter just spoke his heart out.
“Virat was unequivocal in what India’s approach would be the next morning no matter what target they set us to chase. We were already looking at a required rate of 4 an over in case Australia declared overnight, which day did. But Virat was unshakable in his belief that there was no question of battening down the hatches and looking for a draw,” Sridhar started narrating the anecdote.
“Virat later told me that on the bus ride back to the hotel, MS Dhoni slid into the seat next to him. ‘Look, Virat, you can chase down this total. You are that kind of a player and we all know that but as captain, you will also have to think about the others. Are the batters capable of playing that positively and attempting to chase down 360 on the final day of a Test match? While making decisions, you will have to consider the strength of the entire team’.”
“Virat said he saw some merit in what MS had said but he was clear in his mind that positivity was the way forward. Virat’s reply to MS was pithy, ‘Only if we try, we can know na? Whether we can do it or not. We have not chased 360 on the last day of a Test match ever before because we haven’t yet tried to do that. Let us try and give it a shot. Unless we try how will know how good we are?'”
And what happened after that Test is not a mystery to anyone.