MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli will hold very special places in Indian cricket history. Not only as batsmen and wicketkeeper (in Dhoni’s case) but also as captains. We always recognize Dhoni’s contribution as skipper but Kohli’s success as captain often goes under the radar due to his brilliance with the bat.
However, both of them had different styles of captaincy. While Kohli loved pace on the ball, Dhoni loved playing around with the spinners. However, there was one thing in common that both cricketers backed players they believed in.
Moreover, there were certain players both Dhoni and Kohli didn’t really back. Thus, here are five such cricketers who never got a lot of backing either from Kohli or Dhoni.
1. Amit Mishra
Amit Mishra. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Not a lot of people know that Amit Mishra first played in international cricket in 2003. It was in the TVS Cup that he played a couple of ODIs. He took a wicket in each game but was dropped after that series. However, it took him five years to make it back to the international stage.
He made his Test debut in Anil Kumble’s last Test series which was in October 2008. The Haryana leg-spinner was pretty impressive and picked up a fifer on debut. He was long touted as Anil Kumble’s replacement.
There was always this tossup between Pragyan Ojha and Mishra for the second spinner after Kumble’s retirement. Despite performing well, the Haryana leg-spinner played just 13 Test matches and a handful of white-ball games between 2008 and 2011 before he was finally dropped. Dhoni didn’t really back the leggie and invested in the likes of Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja.
Mishra was constantly in and out of the white-ball sides but he didn’t play Test cricket for four years. Under Kohli, he made a comeback and played for about a year but his form was a touch-up and down and it led to his axing. Thus, Mishra has played under both Dhoni and Kohli but none of them backed him fully.
2. Axar Patel
Axar Patel. (Photo by MICHAEL BRADLEY/AFP/Getty Images)
Axar Patel is one of those cricketers who came up the ranks through the IPL. The left-handed all-rounder first burst on to the scene in Kings XI Punjab’s brilliant run in 2014. He impressed everybody with his accurate left-arm spin which yielded 16 wickets in the season and handy batting lower down the order.
He was soon drafted into India’s white-ball squad as they rested a few key players when they toured Bangladesh right after the 2014 IPL season. The left-arm spinner was in and around the team and was also a part of the 2015 World Cup squad. The Gujarat lad was always India’s backup option and they kept going back to him but didn’t really persist with him.
This went on until late 2017. India’s captains changed hands and yet the use of Axar Patel never changed. When Ravichandran Ashwin and Ravindra Jadeja got a break or when the latter was excluded for a brief period, Axar found himself playing. The same was the case when the two wrist-spinners Kuldeep Yadav and Yuzvendra Chahal burst on to the international scene.
However, Axar last played in October 2017 and despite consistently performing for India ‘A’, he has been left out. He hasn’t been backed as the first-choice spinner either by Dhoni or Kohli.
3. Varun Aaron
India bowler Varun Aaron. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
When Varun Aaron first burst on to the scene, there was excitement all around. He was one of the rare fast bowlers at the time who could hit the 145-150 kmph mark regularly. He was a little wayward at times but most importantly, he had the pace to rattle the batsmen.
In 2011, Aaron made his international debut but injuries kept him out for a year or so. However, since he returned he was constantly in and out of the Indian side. He was inconsistent and went for runs but was pretty effective at times.
However, he played 18 international games in total – nine ODIs and nine Tests. The last time he donned an India jersey was in November 2015 and since then has been on the side-lines. The Jharkhand pacer hasn’t even been considered since then. Hence, the talent seems to have gone begging and neither Dhoni nor Kohli backed him fully.
4. Manish Pandey
Manish Pandey. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)
When Manish Pandey became the first Indian to hit a century in the IPL, he was touted as the next big batsman in Indian cricket. However, a decade down the line, he is still hovering in and around the team and hasn’t cemented his spot. However, to be fair, he hasn’t really got a long rope.
Pandey made his international debut in 2015 and in 2016, he scored that brilliant ton in Australia. Post that, he never was consistent in the playing XI. He was always in and out of the side and despite India’s No. 4 struggles, he never got a proper run. Moreover, he has been consistently scoring runs in domestic cricket for Karnataka and India ‘A’.
Be it under Kohli or Dhoni, Pandey has never played all games in two successive series’. He has got another opportunity now and it will be interesting to see if he gets a longer rope.
5. Stuart Binny
Stuart Binny. (Photo by Morne de Klerk/Getty Images)
There was a time when India were on the hunt for a pace-bowling all-rounder. The absence of such a player was felt when they played overseas, especially in Test cricket. That’s when Stuart Binny entered the fray and played as India’s fifth bowler.
Binny made his ODI debut in January 2014 in New Zealand and six months later he got his maiden Test cap in England. He played a few games here and there as India continued to lose overseas. He also played a handful of ODIs. In fact, he holds the record for best figures in an ODI by an Indian (6 wickets for 4 runs).
The Karnataka all-rounder was also a part of India’s 2015 World Cup squad. He also was a part of India’s Test series triumph in Sri Lanka under Virat Kohli in 2015. Thus, he was in and around the team but never got a long run and wasn’t backed entirely either.
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