Out of all the wonderful traits MS Dhoni had as captain, one of the best ones was his ability to back players. There are or were very few captains who backed players like Dhoni did. Once he picked a player, he gave him a decent run. He had the ability to identify who is that player for the long run. Dhoni will go down as arguably one of the best captains to have ever played the game.
He’s one of the best finishers the game has ever seen as well. The Ranchi-born cricketer has had a massive impact in Indian cricket. As captain, his unorthodox and unpopular calls have changed Indian cricket and given them quite a bit of silverware. Be it giving Joginder Sharma the final over in the T20 World Cup final in 2007 or promoting himself to No. 5 in the World Cup final in 2011 or even persisting with Ishant Sharma in the final of the Champions Trophy 2013.
These are just a few glimpses of what Dhoni’s backing can do. In fact, Dhoni’s backing and influence have had long term impacts as well. It has changed the careers of multiple cricketers.
Hence, here are 10 players who have credited MS Dhoni for their successful careers thus far.
In this era, there is absolutely no doubt that Virat Kohli is one of the best batsmen across formats. While he has a fabulous record in the longest format, his record in white-ball cricket is unmatched. The current Indian skipper is the only batsman in the history of the game to average 50 or more in all three formats. Kohli has an excellent average of 54.78 in Test cricket, a staggering 60.31 in ODI cricket and 50 (the best by any player) in T20Is.
Kohli had an indifferent debut ODI series (in 2008) when he scored 159 runs in five innings against Sri Lanka. That was as an opener. However, a year later, he got a chance to bat at 3 and cemented his spot by performing consistently. Hence, Kohli credits MS Dhoni for his success. “When I walked into the team, he had the option of trying someone else after few games, although I grabbed my chances for me to get that kind of backing, it was very crucial for me. Also, he gave me an opportunity to bat at No 3 because not many youngsters get to play at No 3,” Kohli had recently said in a chat with India Today.
In Test cricket, Kohli was backed big time. He had a mediocre debut series in 2011 where he could muster just 76 runs from five innings against West Indies. When India went to Australia, the Delhi lad batted at 6 but got scores of 11, 0, 23 and 9 in the first two Tests and was on the verge of getting dropped. In fact, by the time the third Test came, Rohit Sharma was in line for a debut but Dhoni backed Kohli and as they say, the rest is history.
Rohit Sharma first shot into the limelight during the inaugural World T20 in South Africa in 2007. He played a key role in the middle order towards the back half of the tournament. However, he had made his ODI debut a few months before this tournament. But it was frustrating to watch him fail to make it big. The Mumbaikar showed a lot of promise but flattered to deceive.
There were flashes of brilliance but consistency eluded him. However, one switch has made him one of the best openers in white-ball cricket. Over the last few years, he’s been fabulous at the top of the order. Be it ODIs or T20Is, his ability to bat big and rack up tall scores is remarkable. No player has more ODI double tons (3) or even more T20I hundreds (4) than Rohit.
It was the switch to make him open the batting. Before 2013, the Mumbai-born batsman played 86 ODIs and averaged 28.57. He opened against England in the ODIs at home in early 2013 but no one expected him to do the same in the Champions Trophy. That changed his career and he hasn’t looked back since. “I believe the decision to open in ODIs changed my career and it was a decision taken by MS Dhoni. I became a better batsman after that,” Rohit Sharma was quoted saying in January 2017.
It is no secret that Suresh Raina and MS Dhoni share a wonderful relation. Raina may have made his international debut under Rahul Dravid in 2005, but he has played most of his cricket under Dhoni. While he did get backed by Dravid early on but Dhoni backed him too. In fact, the Jharkhand cricketer rated Raina pretty highly.
And more often than not, Raina repaid the faith. The Uttar Pradesh left-hander was the first Indian to register a century in all three formats. For about 4-5 years, he was a vital part of India’s middle order. Be it for India or Chennai Super Kings (CSK), Raina always had Dhoni’s full support.
Hence, Raina credits Dhoni for the player he became. In 2016, after CSK was banned, the left-hander was drafted to Gujarat Lions (GL). In an event, he was all praise for his CSK skipper. “I have learnt a lot from Dhoni. I keep talking to him and asking him questions in the field, standing at slip or point as to what he is thinking and why he made a particular move,” Raina was quoted saying.
Today, Ravindra Jadeja has become one of India’s prominent all-rounders across all formats. However, everything hasn’t come easy. The Saurashtra lad has had to grind through domestic cricket and needed some time to establish himself as an international cricketer as well. He hails from the class of Virat Kohli’s 2008 Under-19 World Cup winning batch.
Within a year, the left-arm spinning all-rounder made his India debut. However, he did struggle a bit. He blew hot and cold constantly but the year 2013 turned the tide for him. Dhoni backed him to start the Test series against Australia and he was India’s second most successful bowler after Ravichandran Ashwin. Jadeja was India’s MVP in the Champions Trophy as well.
Hence, Jadeja has constantly mentioned Dhoni and credited him for his success. Moreover, he has also said that the former Indian captain is the best ones to bat with. “If you want to learn batting, bat with MS Dhoni,” Jadeja was quoted saying.
Jason Holder had played all of two international games before he made is his IPL debut in 2013. The tall lanky West Indian pacer had a couple of ODIs in Australia in early 2013. Hence, he was picked to play for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) that year. He played six games but couldn’t manage to make an impact as he returned with just two wickets and went at 8.40 runs an over.
After 2013, Holder played just two more seasons (2014 for SRH and 2016 for KKR) and played five games in total. While he wasn’t getting too many chances in the IPL, in international cricket, he came up the ranks quickly and in no time, he became the captain of the national side. However, he credits MS Dhoni as he has learnt a lot from his former CSK teammate and skipper.
“MS is an influential figure. In true sense, he is a leader and I found that during my stint with Chennai Super Kings in the Indian Premier League. As a captain, I have always looked upto MS’s leadership qualities for inspiration. The manner in which Dhoni handles pressure is exceptional. That is the reason he has achieved so much while leading a team with players from different countries. There is so much to learn from him,” Holder said in a press conference ahead of India-West Indies clash in the 2015 World Cup.
Ishant Sharma has been around for more than a decade now. He has become India’s workhorse. Between 2011 and 2015, when India had a tough time away from home, it was Ishant who was India’s constant bowler. While most others suffered from one injury at least, the lanky pacer from Delhi played most of the games.
If MS Dhoni wanted someone to hold one end up or attack or bowl long spells, it was Ishant all the time. He has played 94 Test matches so far with 47 of them coming under Dhoni. Hence, Dhoni backed him to the hilt. He made him play alongside Zaheer Khan at the start of his career before making him the spearhead of the attack.
Thus, Ishant credits Dhoni and is willing to do anything for him. In fact, back in 2015, he vowed to jump from the 24th floor of a building if Dhoni asked him to. “If captains like Mahi Bhai tell you that you have to jump from the 24th floor, you would readily do that without thinking even once. Mahi Bhai (MS Dhoni) handled me very well at a time when I was emotionally down,” Ishant Sharma was quoted saying in an interview with Mid-Day.
Faf du Plessis
Faf du Plessis was another player that South Africa almost lost to Kolpak. However, he stayed on and went on to become one of South Africa’s grittiest players in this era. He made his international debut against India in January 2011 and has been playing almost non-stop since then. In 2012, he was picked by Chennai Super Kings (CSK) for the IPL and has been a part of it ever since.
He did play for Rising Pune Supergiant (RPS) when CSK were away but returned to his old franchise once they were back. In fact, du Plessis doesn’t open in any format for South Africa but it was Dhoni who promoted him up the order in the IPL to play freely. Moreover, the South African skipper has said that he’s learnt a lot from his CSK teammate and Dhoni has had an influence on him and his career.
“I always ask him (Dhoni), how is he so cool and I can say two things about Dhoni. I have been fortunate to have played under him and I have huge amount of respect for him. Secondly, I know what he brings to the table. He is a calm captain and knows how to handle pressure situations. You can learn to be your own man,” Faf du Plessis once said.
Brendon McCullum is arguably one of the best cricketers to have played for New Zealand. He may have made a name for himself by smashing bowlers around the park in white-ball cricket but he had a very good Test career as well.
McCullum is a great entertainer on the field. Be it with the bat, when he’s behind the stumps with the gloves or in the field, McCullum never ceases to entertain. Hence, he was a big part of the IPL for most part of the first decade. While he played for Kolkata Knight Riders in the first six seasons, in 2014, he was picked by Chennai Super Kings where he played a couple of years.
It was in those couple of years, McCullum said he played freely and could learn a lot from skipper MS Dhoni. The former New Zealand skipper was given the license to go after the bowling from ball one and he invariably gave CSK some flying starts. “When I play for CSK, I try to learn from how MS goes about his work and enjoy not having to take up the responsibility myself,” McCullum was quoted saying a few years back.
Yuzvendra Chahal is one of those cricketers who came up the ranks and shot into the limelight largely due to the IPL. While the Haryana leg-spinner made his IPL debut in 2013 it was only under Virat Kohli’s Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) that he got consistent chances. After a few years of consistent performances, Chahal got his chance to represent India in 2016.
He made his debut in Zimbabwe under MS Dhoni and a year later, he became India’s premier white-ball spinner. In fact, along with Kuldeep Yadav, Chahal has been one of the reasons behind India’s success with the ball in limited-overs cricket over the recent past. However, there is one man behind the stumps who is guiding the youngsters and that is MS Dhoni.
Chahal has spoken highly of the former Indian skipper on numerous occasions. He has credited him for the success he has got on the field. “Mahi bhai (Dhoni) has helped a lot. He tells us how a wicket will play and so it helps us figure things out quickly instead of wasting overs on trying to understand the wicket,” Chahal once said.
Along with Yuzvendra Chahal, Kuldeep Yadav has also been important to India’s success in white-ball cricket in the recent past. The duo have tormented batting line-ups across the world and have found quite a bit of success. However, Kuldeep has also credited MS Dhoni for the success he’s had.
“He always guides us bowlers, whenever he feels the need to get his message across he does it. When the wicketkeeper supports you like that, it becomes easier for the bowler. A lot of times, the bowler is not able to understand the situation but the wicketkeeper understands it better. Mahi bhai is just like that,” Kuldeep as quoted saying in an interview earlier this year.
While Chahal has made an impact only in white-ball cricket, Kuldeep has gone on to make headlines even in Test cricket. The chinaman spinner has played only a few Test matches but has done well in the limited opportunities he’s got. He may be in and out of the side at the moment due to his poor form but he has been key to India’s success in different formats since 2017.
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