MS Dhoni, fresh off the IPL 2021 victory for the Chennai Super Kings (CSK), has taken up his role as the mentor of the Indian team for the T20 World Cup 2021 and was seen interacting with players during the practice sessions.
The 2007 T20 World Cup-winning captain Dhoni was a huge coup for the BCCI when he agreed to become the mentor as his experience even from the dressing room is invaluable for the youngsters in the Indian squad.
The team will be hoping for their second T20 World Cup title under the guidance of the mercurial Dhoni and his former India and CSK teammate L Balaji is confident of Dhoni creating an impact without hindering the work of coaches.
“Dhoni was also a part of this same setup until two years ago. They have been part of the group. So, it is not new for Dhoni. Knowing Dhoni very well, he is not someone who will cross the limits,” Lakshmipathy Balaji told News18. com.
“It is a totally different ball game when it comes to MS as an on-the-field contributor and off-the-field contributor. He has proved himself over the years because of his easy approach to the game and also the fact that anybody can go to him and talk about the game. Of course, the aura of MS Dhoni is going to be there. But, what he has maintained over the years with different age groups of cricketers is the ability to connect.
He has the ability to break the ice between the seniors and the juniors in the team. In the last decade and a half, what I have seen of Dhoni as a leader, first as a CSK player and then as a member of the CSK support staff, is his ability to connect with the cricketers. You don’t want a disoriented unit. All the current players in the Indian team have played a lot of cricket with Dhoni. There will be no short of communication between them,” he added.
Balaji also explained the role of a mentor in a team set up and said that Dhoni will come into play as he observes from the outside and rectifies some chinks in players’ armors.
“A mentor is a link holder, not a link creator. This Indian team is already led by a leadership group. It is about stabilizing or making it a little bit stronger. There is a marginal factor, which we fail to notice. Sometimes, that ‘something is noticed from the outside. It is here that Dhoni’s expert guidance comes in handy, making it easier for the team. Dhoni has been a part of all the six previous T20 World Cups – all as captain.
And, in a tournament like the T20 World Cup, Dhoni is one who has understood many tournaments, been there and done that, knows exactly how white-ball cricket is being played. It is these little links like communication and players opening up to him that Dhoni will look to consolidate in the team,” Balaji said.
Balaji further lauded Dhoni’s tactical genius and said: “Dhoni has been able to get what he wants from his players. His biggest advantage is his ability to remain calm and do simple things. In this team, there may have been some tactical changes made in the knockout stages of the major tournaments.
Look at this side, we have a top-order that is intact but the middle-order department needs to be looked into and the fifth bowler option has been unconvincing. This has been hampering India’s chances in recent times, which, I am sure with Dhoni around, will be looked after with greater clarity. With Dhoni’s experience, there will be more clarity and nothing complicated.
Balaji signed off by saying: “Both Dhoni and Kohli have a cordial relationship from the beginning. Both know the kind of trust each has for the other. Am sure Kohli will take whatever comes from Dhoni and his experience.”