Team India coach Anil Kumble paid a glowing tribute to Mahendra Singh Dhoni, who stepped down from limited-overs captaincy last week, and said one of the highlights of his leadership tenure was the apt handling of senior players in the team. Dhoni became India’s captain in all formats when Kumble retired from Tests during the Australia series at home in 2008. In a press interaction here ahead of the forthcoming limited-overs series against England, Kumble reflected on that period of leadership transition and likened it to the one the Indian cricket has seen now.
On similarities between ‘08, ‘17
“The first phase was probably easy for me because I was old, it was easy for me to say ‘MS take over’. It was difficult for me to continue at that time, the body was not willing but I thought it was the right time for me to leave as well. MS (Dhoni) was ready to take over Test captaincy.
“From there to 2007 to 2017, 10 years of captaincy is phenomenal. It goes on to show the capabilities of MS as a leader and also what he has been able to achieve during the transition phase and also when the seniors left as well. It is not easy coming into the team as captain and having so many senior players in the dressing room (Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid). He managed them really well. He (Dhoni) not just got the best out of them but also got the best for the team. Both as number one Test side and later on winning the World Cup and then the Champions Trophy, and many other victories he has been part of.
“In this team, except for Yuvraj Singh, everybody else has started their careers under MS. So that is the kind of transition he has seen. It has been phenomenal to be able to achieve what he has been able to achieve. We all know the value that he brings as a player and as a batsman and keeper, and of course his value on the field. It is never easy to take a call. Hats off to him. That shows how selfless he is and he probably thought it was the right time for Virat to take over. Like how I felt back then it was the right time for MS to come in, it is great for the team to have MS on the field with Virat leading the side.”
On the new captain Virat Kohli
“Like I mentioned, Virat came into the side when MS was captain, so the bonhomie and bond that they have shared will only help Virat grow as a leader. And Virat has shown the exceptional quality he has and what he brings to the team, both as an individual and leader. We have seen the results under him in Test format and I am sure he will be equally good in one-day format.”
On Dhoni’s role in the team
“MS has been one of the best captains that we have had. Hats off to him and congratulations to him for what he has done as captain. Now looking forward to MS as the batsman and keeper and as a leader. He is still a leader in the team.”
Will Dhoni bat at four?
“I don’t think it is the right for me to discuss the team combination. Like you mentioned it is a good choice that we have in the squad with Yuvi coming back into the team. We all know what he is capable of. Having said that, both Manish Pandey and Kedar Jadhav in that slot have done well. It is nice to have choices, there is competition in the team and that is what you want. All 15 members are available for selection.
“At any given point of time, you want to field your best team on the park and we would like to do that considering that each game is a knockout in the Champions Trophy (to be played in England this summer). That is the mindset players and the team have. There is not much experimentation or much practice in terms of combinations and in terms of what you would like to be prepared with but no tournament you can say that this is the ideal preparation that you would want. Whatever we have we will try and get the most out of it.”