Naturally talented, athletic and determined to move mountains that thaw their path toward success, in Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Virat Kohli, world cricket has two gifted and interesting cricketing personalities that are known to produce special results on the ground. Mostly, united and sporting a common outfit that bears the national colours, in the IPL; cricket’s fancy thrill-fest, Dhoni and Kohli lead the pecking order of two distinctly talented sides, Pune SuperGiants and the Royal Challengers Bangalore.
On the same pitch where they unfurl plans to tackle India’s opponents sporting the same national jersey, Mahi and Virat become adversaries in the IPL hunting each other’s sides to take their respective IPL outfit home.
What makes the two stand out as captains and how do their leadership strategies differ and support their individual and collective team’s talents? We take a look at 2 mighty cricketing talents:
1) Fire meets Ice in the IPL
Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the former captain of the tremendously successful Chennai Super Kings outfit is regarded as a cool and collected leader. Although aggressive, you aren’t accustomed to seeing Dhoni jump up and down and rub off his emotions on others in his or the opposite unit. In the silent cunning of Dhoni that has so sheepishly drawn curtains over his opponent’s plans, he is the ice that seldom melts.
On the other hand, in Virat Kohli, the Royal Challengers have a captain who can be aggressive with both, the bat and with his mental downsizing of his opponents. Not known to keep emotions at bay, the wry smile can often take a backseat in front of the regaling of aggressive body language that surely keeps Kohli’s nemesis’ at bay. It certainly doesn’t make for a pleasing side to take on Virat with verbal diatribes as opponents know, what comes back may not exactly be garlands of regard
2) Communication strategies with team-mates
Dhoni, a seasoned veteran who has lead India to many a triumph time and again in both test and limited over format isn’t much of a talker. Yes, those mid over chatters and final stage mini discussions happen but they aren’t exactly long or elaborate discussions. Dhoni, who has notoriously been branded as the go-to man of former teammates Raina, Bravo, Nehra and Ashwin would hold close-knit discussions in the middle of the pitch during important match stages. But, true to his cool headed persona, Dhoni’s cautionary word of advice aren’t known to be long. Smith, Rahane and co., his current teammates observe a similar Dhoni.
Kohli on the other hand, is a distinct character. Whether his leading bowler- Adam Milne or Chahal have gone for a few big ones or have scalped the batsman in front, in both celebration and in cautioning his players, Kohli is ever the dynamic chatter. He is probably the last man in the IPL that you would think of holding back his emotions. He’s isn’t much of a team discussion either. He is known to run to bowlers at the death overs or to his fellow striker at the other end and discuss important deliverables on the whole 22 yard.
3) How Kohli and Dhoni’s bat have talked thus far
Captain Kohli, in IPL 2016, has fired from the word go. Having recently scored his first ever ton in the 9th edition of the IPL, Kohli has managed a hefty 367 runs from 5 matches. His attacking batting has been the leading highlights of an RCB unit that has fired without any magnificent contributions from Gayle so far.
Dhoni, on the other hand has struggled for runs. The captain in him hasn’t really emerged as the batman that Pune would do well to have and from 5 matches, he has only managed 92 runs.
4) A tactical difference between two illustrious minds
Defense is the best form of attack if you’re MS Dhoni in IPL 2016. However, you would attack all defenses if you’re Kohli.
Dhoni, to the surprise of most in IPL 2016 has looked the part of a slightly dazed and confused leader who seems to be on the back-foot when met by challenges and whose side’s form seems wilting as the tournament progresses. Back in his heydays as the leader of the erstwhile Chennai Super Kings, Dhoni was an aggressive captain who liked to put the opposition on its toes. One got used to seeing an R. Ashwin open the bowling for Dhoni and frequent lower order batting shuffles led by sending Badrinath and Albie Morkel ahead of himself sent scoring rates skyward.
On the other hand, Kohli has led from the front, unafraid to open the innings for RCB and hitting his first century with this dashing move. Even in IPL 2014 and 2015, one got used to seeing Kohli and Gayle walking down to open the Bangalore account. He’s given the ball often to spinners like Chahal in crunch situations without much ado. In the game against Gujarat Lions, Kohli handed the final over to Watson despite his rivals needing just 7 from the final over.
5) Choosy, thoughtful team selections
Chris Gayle who went back to Jamaica missing a few games despite having not returned hasn’t bothered Kohli one bit. He’s picked the best playing eleven for Bangalore, counting on batsmen of the class of De Villiers, Watson and Sarfaraz Khan and bestowing faith on Yuzvendra Chahal, Milne, the out of form Stuart Binny and the tad bit expensive Kane Richardson. Kohli’s backing of Stuart Binny as the all-rounder despite the Karnataka batsman haven’t played at all in recent times shows his daring and guile.
On the other hand, captain MS Dhoni of Pune SuperGiants, perhaps the strongest team on paper but the weakest off it, left out Mitchell Marsh for 5 straight games.
While Kohli’s picking of Binny reaffirms the Delhi lad’s faith in the abilities of an all-rounder, leaving out Mitchell Marsh, inarguably among the best all-rounder in world cricket has left Pune wanting. Could this prove fatal for Pune’s fortunes, only time can tell?
6) Exceptional track record as captains
To measure Dhoni’s stellar leadership and Kohli’s young, robust leadership charge, you cannot just take into account the IPL 2016, for the tournament is far from being over. Although, both Kohli and Dhoni’s current leadership record stands quite similar currently.
The RCB under Kohli have won 2 games versus Pune and Hyderabad and lost 3 against Delhi, Mumbai and Gujarat and Pune SuperGiants have triumphed twice against Hyderabad and Mumbai but lost out to Kolkata, Bangalore, Gujarat and Punjab. Misery needs company after all.
But Dhoni, who may be lagging behind Kohli in the current IPL edition, stands better in his overall IPL captaincy record, winning 29 out of 43 games with a win percentage of 67%. Under Kohli’s captaincy in 2015, RCB made it to the playoffs but didn’t soar ahead.
7) Diverse, glittering IPL milestones
IPL is generally regarded as the batsman’s loot of the bowler’s treasury. The captain’s role ends not just with setting the right field with the best playing eleven drawn in to challenge the opposition but, serves the final decisive blow with his batting contribution.
Looking at both Mahi and Kohli’s individual records in recent years has only confirmed this notion.
Captaining the Royal Challengers since 2013, Kohli made 634 runs, including 6 fifties with a top score of 99. 2014 may have been a low scoring outcome for Virat, but he picked up mighty form in 2015 making 505 runs, taking his team to the play offs. His strike rate was 130. MSD, captain for most of the erstwhile CSK stints, scored over 400 runs in a season twice; 414 in the 2008 (with 2 fifties) season opener and 461 (4 fifties) in 2013.
On 4 occasions, he’s scored 5 not outs during ’09, ’12, ‘13’, ’15 seasons. Utilizing both his innovating captaincy and handy batting form, CSK qualified for finals on 6 occasions, winning it on 2 occasions, 2010 and 2011.
To conclude, Kohli’s thundering batting and his consistent deliverance from the top order have often struck batting gold for RCB while Dhoni’s consistency season after season has established him a giant star of the IPL.
Different and yet imposing talents, with half the tournament still to unfold, who knows what the day holds for Pune SuperGiants and RCB. It’s never over till it’s over and men of the caliber and ability of Virat and Dhoni leading the star-studded show have in them to create magic on the 22 yards.