Dubai: Barely 24 hours after steering the Chennai Super Kings to their IPL fourth title, Mahendra Singh Dhoni is gearing up for another task, one that he delivered at the early stage of his career in 2007 — winning the Twenty20 World Cup for India again.
Virat Kohli, who steps down as India skipper at the end of the World Cup in the UAE and Oman, said the presence of the former Indian captain gives the Men in Blue the edge, albeit in a mentoring role in this edition after captaining India in all the previous editions. “He’s always been a mentor for us when we were starting our careers and has the opportunity to do the same work again, especially for younger guys who are playing major tournaments.
“We want to use the experience he’s gained over the years and have conversations with him around the game. Tactical inputs, intricate details of where the game is going and how we can improve by small margins.
“We’re absolutely delighted to have him back and his presence will certainly boost the morale of the team further and give us more confidence than we have as a team,” the Indian captain said during the Captains Call organised by the International Cricket Council.
The Indian team decided to use Dhoni’s expertise after heartbreaks in the 2014 edition, where they lost to Sri Lanka in the final in Dhaka, and to eventual champions West Indies in the semi-finals in 2016 at home.
“It’s frustrating to go out in the way we did to a deserving team. West Indies thoroughly deserved to win the tournament. However, we have some young players who have the IPL experience and have the capability to change the game wonderfully well,” Kohli added, saying that he is confident that the team would go deep into the tournament. “We will take one step at a time in the knockout stages.”
The Indian team is a mix of youth and experience. While leg-spinners Rahul Chahar and Varun Chakravarthy have been rewarded for their consistent performances in the IPL, the talking point has been the return of Ravichandran Ashwin into the T20 format.
Ashwin first showcased his skills in the format and even opened the bowling for the Chennai Super Kings in the early days. But he subsequently lost his place and last played for India in a T20 game in 2017.
The return of Ashwin
Talking about the off-spinner’s return, Kohli said: “He has improved a lot and is not shy to put the ball in the right areas against powerhitters. He has been rewarded for reviving his white-ball cricket.”
On the contrary, the omission of Yuzvendra Chahal was also a point of contention, especially after the leg-spinner proved his guile on the UAE pitches in the IPL. The veteran spinner gave way for young Chahar.
“Leaving out Chahal is a difficult call. Rahul bowled amazingly for the last couple of years in the IPL and also did well in Sri Lanka and England series. With UAE wickets getting slower, Rahul will trouble the batsman with his fast spin bowling. Rahul has the potential to get wickets, which tipped the balance in his favour.”