There have been certain captains who simply love backing particular players to the tilt. MS Dhoni was one such character. One of his excellent qualities as a leader was his ability to keep faith in players.
He rarely lost confidence in a particular player early. He would give them a number of games before taking a call. It may not have happened with all the players that played under Dhoni but the former India captain is known for his ability to trust and back players.
There were a few players he backed like no one else and these players came out with flying colours. Hence, here are five cricketers whose success was largely due to MS Dhoni and they owe a big share of that success to the Ranchi-born cricketer.
1. Rohit Sharma
Rohit Sharma. (Photo Source: Twitter)
From the time Rohit Sharma started opening the batting, his career turned upside down. Until 2013, Sharma was struggling in the Indian middle-order. He had all the talent in the world but somehow he couldn’t make it big at the international level.
The Nagpur-born batsman averaged 30.43 after his first 86 ODI matches. There were a few flashes of brilliance but he wasn’t consistent at all. However, it was in January 2013 against England that Sharma first opened the batting. But it was MS Dhoni’s masterstroke of promoting him at the top of the order in the 2013 Champions Trophy that worked wonders.
Since then, Rohit hasn’t looked back. He is one of the best white-ball openers going around in world cricket. He averages 59.27 in ODI cricket and has scored 25 ODI tons which include three double tons since January 2013. In T20Is, the 32-year-old opener has four hundreds which is the most by any player.
Hence, Dhoni has played a massive role in shaping Rohit’s career and hence, the latter owes a lot of his success to Dhoni. Rohit may not have made it big in Test cricket but in the shorter formats, his career has taken off.
2. Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Virat Kohli has been in sublime form for quite some time now. The consistency with which he has been scoring runs across all three formats is simply remarkable. However, this may not have been possible without MS Dhoni’s constant backing.
Kohli was pretty inconsistent at the start of his career. While he blew hot and cold in ODI cricket in the first couple of years, it took him three years (after his ODI debut) to get into the Test side. It was in the longest format that the current Indian skipper struggled the most. After six Test matches, Kohli averaged a mere 21.27. He had just two fifties to his name, both of which came in the same Test.
Hence, after a couple of Test matches in Australia in 2011-12, he was on the verge of getting dropped. However, Dhoni stuck with the Delhi lad and it paid off. Kohli’s Test career got a new life after that. He scored his maiden ton in the final Test of the series and grew as a player. Thus, Dhoni’s influence on Kohli’s career, especially the longest format has been a massive one.
3. Ravindra Jadeja
Ravindra Jadeja. (Photo Source: Getty Images)
Ravindra Jadeja has been around in international cricket for over a decade now. However, he has constantly faced a lot of criticism over the years. He made his international debut in 2009 but was decent in his first couple of years. He never took the world by storm but chipped in with the bat, ball and in the field.
Jadeja took 29 wickets in 35 ODI matches he played in 2009 and 2010. He was overlooked for the 2011 World Cup. However, post that, he became a regular member of the white-ball sides. With Harbhajan Singh fading away, he formed an excellent pair with Ravichandran Ashwin in white-ball cricket. He was pretty effective with the bat as well as he batted mostly at No. 7 and became a vital part of India’s shorter format plans.
However, he even made his Test debut in late 2012 and it was MS Dhoni who backed him as a bowler. After he found success at home, Dhoni backed Jadeja as the frontline spinner in South Africa, New Zealand and England. Though Jadeja couldn’t deliver with the ball on those tours, Dhoni never let Saurashtra all-rounder fade away. Jadeja returned to Test cricket after a year and had a huge impact and hasn’t looked back since.
4. Ishant Sharma
Ishant Sharma. (Photo by Duif du Toit/Gallo Images/Getty Images)
It’s been over 12 years since a tall teenaged right-arm fast bowler from Delhi made his international debut. Ishant Sharma was rated very highly pretty early in his career. However, he blew hot and cold throughout. Be it red-ball or white-ball cricket, Ishant was pretty inconsistent. However, MS Dhoni never let go for the lanky pacer.
Ishant was always in and around the squad. He has been India’s premier Test match fast bowler in this decade, especially away from home. He was the hero in England twice in back to back years and the credit for both has to be significantly shared with Dhoni. In the 2013 Champions Trophy final, Ishant went for plenty but the then Indian captain trusted him and gave him the 18th over (the game was reduced to 20 overs). Sharma changed the game and helped India win the Champions Trophy.
In 2014, at Lord’s, Ishant Sharma blew away the England batting with a short-ball barrage. It was Dhoni who asked Ishant to persist with the tactic. That gave India a memorable Test win at Lord’s. Ishant continued to be India’s spearhead on overseas tours. Hence, Ishant is one of those pacers who was backed to the tilt by Dhoni.
5. Suresh Raina
Suresh Raina. (Photo Source: Twitter)
Suresh Raina may have made his international debut in 2005 but it was only under MS Dhoni that the left-hander from Uttar Pradesh emerged with flying colours. Raina had a good start to his ODI career but struggled for a couple of years (between May 2006 and May 2008). However, it was the Asia Cup in 2008 that turned things around for him. He scored runs heavily and after that series, Raina was barely dropped from any of the white-ball sides.
Raina was one of the key men for Dhoni as he loved having players who could contribute in all three departments. Moreover, the duo plays together in the IPL as well. Thus, Raina was thoroughly backed. The left-handed middle-order batsman played a couple of key knocks in the quarter-final and semi-final of the 2011 World Cup. All of Raina’s five ODI tons have come under Dhoni and his ODI average was also better under the former Indian skipper.
However, Raina’s Test performances aren’t too glittering. But Dhoni tried him out in the longest format too. Raina did get a few chances in 2010 and 2011 before he was dropped due to inconsistency.
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