The Indian Premier League is done but T20 cricket will continue with the focus now shifting to the World Cup. India players have regrouped in UAE to start their preparations for the mega event. Head coach Ravi Shastri, bowling Bharat Arun, fielding coach R Sridhar, batting coach Vikram Rathour have been spotted with the team alongside a familiar face " MS Dhoni.
Dhoni announced his international retirement before the start of last IPL season, ending his hugely successful association with the national team. He captained the team to a T20 World Cup win in 2007, lifted the 2011 ODI World Cup trophy and also helped the team to clinch the ICC Champions Trophy in 2013. In white-ball cricket, his captaincy and his ability to finish the game with the bat has propelled India to many positive results.
BCCI announced Dhoni's new role with the Indian team before the start of the second-half of the IPL in UAE. Now that Dhoni has captained CSK to another IPL title, after a remarkable turnaround from last season where they finished seventh, his reunion with the national team has renewed the optimism with regard to the team's fortunes in the upcoming World Cup.
"He has got massive experience. He is quite excited himself. He has always been a mentor for all of us. Younger guys who are playing their first major tournaments at early stages of career will benefit," captain Virat Kohli said during a recent interaction with media.
" BCCI (@BCCI) October 17, 2021
"His eye for intricate details and practical advice will help improve the game by one or two percent. Absolutely delighted to have him¦(His) presence will not only boost morale but also increase confidence that we already have," he added.
Kohli is spot on when he talks about Dhoni's eye for intricate details and practical advice. He swung many games in his team's favour by keeping things simple. Dhoni and CSK head coach Stephen Fleming have spoken about it numerous times. There are no long talks or deep analysis with Dhoni. It's mostly about what's working on the field in that particular situation and he often backs his instincts.
IPL 2021 has been significant for Dhoni. He struggled for runs in most of the matches but it didn't affect CSK's performances. This is mostly the same team which failed to enter the playoffs in 2020. Dhoni and the CSK management didn't panic after a bad season but were not shy in making necessary changes. Like he did in the previous seasons, Dhoni managed to get the best out of players. Ruturaj Gaikwad, Shardul Thakur, Moeen Ali and Josh Hazlewood are not T20 wonders but all these players contributed massively in the journey to the title.
Dhoni was facing a lot of questions after a disappointing 2020 season and rightly so. The team failed to perform as a unit and the skipper was not at his best while leading the team. But he turned it around and he did it without replacing the core.
Kohli will not captain the Indian side in the shortest format of the game after the World Cup. He's yet to win an ICC trophy as a captain so he will hope to break the duck. Kohli's association with Shastri has been fruitful for the team in red-ball cricket. But maybe he needs a Dhoni in the mix to make it work in T20 cricket.
Sure, the captain is the one who will call the shots during a cricket game and Kohli can't really depend on Dhoni because the former skipper will not be present on the field. But that doesn't mean Dhoni's importance will not be felt. He understands Kohli, he understands most of the personnel in the Indian squad, he understands the pitches in UAE and most importantly, he understands T20 cricket.
Let's see if he can deliver another trophy for the team, this time in a completely different role.