Different players take different paths to the same destination. And, along the way, some achieve greatness. This applies aptly to ODI skipper MS Dhoni as well as Test captain Virat Kohli. On Sunday, both the one-day greats featured in the partnership that was instrumental in India’s victory at Mohali, which took them 2-1 up in the series. Over the last decade, both Dhoni and Kohli have featured in numerous memorable chases for the team. But, while Dhoni is on his way out, Kohli is at the very peak of his career. The partnership on Super Sunday can be viewed as the passing of the baton of sorts.
While both have tasted success as finishers, Kohli and Dhoni have distinctly varied approaches on how to take the team past the finish line. Which method is more fruitful is debatable since both have won numerous games for their country. But, one thing is for sure. They will go down in history as two of the greatest finishers in the one-day game. And, the reason for that is that they have been able to thrive on their strengths for a prolonged period of time. The comparison between the two makes for an interesting case study, considering the diverse characters that they are.
Dhoni, for one, believes in taking the game down to the very end, by pushing and prodding and keeping the team in the hunt for as long as possible. He then tries to put pressure on the bowler in the final overs, by going for the big shot, and confident that he can pull off the coup. Dhoni has won India a number of matches over the years using this mode of play, often finding the big hits at key moments. Of late though, he has struggled to take India past the finish line on a few occasions. As a result of which, eyebrows have been raised on his approach.
In stark contrast, Kohli adopts a more aggressive approach, but by no means a hostile one. He takes a measured view of the innings, and while he too rotates the strike frequently, unlike Dhoni, he does not believe in keeping the fans waiting till the end. On the contrary, every time it seems that the run rate may be spiralling somewhat out of control, Kohli finds the boundary more often than not. His flick-loft stroke, picking the ball from the off-stump to the gap in the leg, is his favourite release shot. Rarely has Kohli failed to take India over the line in chases.
With Kohli succeeding and Dhoni failing to deliver the finishing punches in recent times, fans and some experts too have been raising question marks over Dhoni’s finishing abilities. But, the Indian ODI skipper made an interesting move by promoting himself up the order to number, and the ploy worked on Sunday as he got time to play himself in. It remains to be seen whether Dhoni continues to bat up the order. As for Kohli, in a few years’ time, he will be in Dhoni’s shoes. Only then will we known, how he deals with the fag-end career crisis.
--By A Cricket Analyst