Champions Trophy 2017

The unique relationship between captain Virat Kohli and keeper MS Dhoni is one India should cherish

At that crucial juncture of the passing of the captaincy baton, their relationship becomes one of respect and space.

India versus South Africa, over 40.1: Jasprit Bumrah bowled to Andile Phehulukwayo, a full delivery that hit him on the back-foot and the bowler went up in appeal. Umpire Paul Reiffel said no, but the real attention was on what was going on behind the batsman.

Virat Kohli (standing at slip) appealed along with the bowler, whilst walking towards the umpire, and then looked back, appealing still, almost to MS Dhoni, as if he needed approval to go for a DRS review. On air, Sanjay Manjrekar said, “He has to look back at him for the final sanction!”

The commentary was in jest, but clearly, Kohli was not convinced without Dhoni’s opinion. He asked Bumrah if the ball had clipped bat, or was simply going down leg. Then, he turned to Dhoni and asked again. The former captain wasn’t quite convinced himself either, but agreed for the review. Kohli went up and the decision was over-turned in Bumrah’s favour.

Dhoni Review System

This happenstance sits in well with a joke going around on social media – the Dhoni Review System. Put it simply, the former Indian skipper is one of the finest readers of the game, and his heightened awareness behind the stumps is unmatched among contemporaries. Let it be said here that when it comes to judging DRS, Dhoni is miles ahead of many keepers, certainly ahead of both Wriddhiman Saha and Parthiv Patel.

The duo had given some grief to Kohli during the long 2016-’17 Test season, when it came to going for DRS referrals. Unlike in the ODI arena, when Dhoni made firm calls against England (in January), there was nothing definitive coming forth from Saha or Patel during the Tests. In fact, it was the singular reason that, time and again, his spinners hoodwinked Kohli into going for DRS reviews and team India lost them early in the innings on a number of occasions.

Now, consider this. During the India-Sri Lanka game last Thursday, in the 20th over, Jadeja had a huge lbw shout turned down against Kusal Mendis. Like most times, the spinner went on appealing and as the umpire said no, he was searching for Kohli to perhaps signal for DRS. In the meantime, Dhoni simply walked up to fetch the ball and threw it back to the bowler – end of story. There was no meeting to discuss the decision, or whether to go for the review since Jadeja was convinced. In the near future, when Dhoni is no longer around keeping wickets, India are likely to waste their one-allowed DRS review in a similar instance.

Dhoni commands a certain respect on the field (IANS)
Dhoni commands a certain respect on the field (IANS)

Truth told this isn’t about judgment of DRS alone, though. Dhoni commands a certain respect on the field, one that even Kohli – unmatched in stature as an Indian cricketer already – cannot deny him. He may have given up captaincy, but there is still certain aura about Dhoni, a magnetism that manifests itself whenever he takes the field, now as a simple member of the team.

It naturally flows from the timely decision he made to relinquish captaincy to Kohli at the turn of this year. There is some room for debate about whether Dhoni should have been Test captain until 2014-’15, but he judged his departure from the longer format aptly as well. If there was any way he could have outdone himself, it was in judiciously deciding when to completely hand over the reins to Kohli. That it happened after the gruelling-yet-easy Test series win over England is, on hindsight, no longer a surprise.

The age of Kohli

That series will go down as the establishment of Kohli as the alpha male of Indian cricket. Runs flowed from his bat in abundance, the team gelled as a unit under his leadership and raked up come-from-behind victories with ease, and it was as if England had lost because of their admiration of Kohli. That he was systematically targeted by the Australian team and their traveling media (even their former cricketers/administrators chipped in) later on was ample evidence of this.

By the end of 2016, this Indian team belonged to Kohli, period. If there was an ever example of how quickly a bunch of players seamlessly moved on from one leadership to another, this was it. To Dhoni’s credit, he recognised this aspect and stepped back. It also underlines his own comfort in this late stage of his career. At most, he has two years to play at the international level (assuming he maintains his fitness and form). Dhoni knows this, and wants to enjoy his time, naturally, like every other cricketer.

At that crucial juncture of the passing of the captaincy baton, the Kohli-Dhoni relationship has become one of respect and space. By stepping down of his own accord, the latter gets the long rope he deserves as a pure keeper-batsman. At the same time, the former can earn his stripes under the watchful eyes of an elite Indian captain, probably the finest of all time in limited-overs’ cricket. It is this aspect that is most visible on the field.

Kohli has identified where Dhoni is most comfortable in the batting order. To the outsider, it may be as simple as saying that he should bat at No 4 and guide the lower order, maybe even nurture the next great Indian finisher. It isn’t as simple.

Old habits die hard, and Dhoni has spent his entire career shepherding the finishing overs on his own. In the twilight of his career, it would be unbecoming of him to simply move up to a more comfortable spot, and put this tremendous load on someone else. As such, he bats at No 5, where he holds the late order and anchors the death overs in keeping with his now-waning ability, agreeable to the team management.

Kohli has identified where Dhoni is most comfortable in the batting order (AFP)
Kohli has identified where Dhoni is most comfortable in the batting order (AFP)

Dhoni too has identified that Kohli is a completely different character as leader. At times, a cricketer might be firebrand solely as player, but leadership can have a mellowing effect. Not Kohli, though, for he has infused his enthusiasm (putting it mildly) onto the team. So much so, the Test team looks completely different in body language from Dhoni’s era, and the ODI team is starting to look the same.

Learning from mistakes

In turn, Kohli has been left along to learn on his own, even from his mistakes. The keenest example of this was in the Lanka game itself, when Kohli had to go to Dhoni and ask what options were available to him, as the game started to drift away from India. It was then that Dhoni suggested using part-time options, including Yuvraj Singh, Kedar Jadhav and even Kohli himself.

“His input is obviously always very precise, very helpful at any stage of the game,” said Kohli after the intense win over South Africa. “In the last game [against Lanka], he mentioned about the part-timers. [Today], it was all about asking him whether to keep the slip in there long enough, what he thinks of the fields, and just taking assurance.”

This little phase of Indian cricket, whilst Dhoni is still around and Kohli comes of age as limited-overs’ captain, is a serious amalgamation of two extreme individuals. One is a livewire, on the field and off it; in everything he does in fact, and wears his heart on the sleeve. The other is, arguably, the most reserved cricketer to ever come out of India; never betraying his thoughts, not once losing cool in the tightest of situations.

To borrow from George RR Martin then, this Dhoni-Kohli relationship is a song of ice and fire.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content BY 

The pioneering technologies that will govern the future of television

Home entertainment systems are set to get even more immersive.

Immersive experience is the core idea that ties together the next generation of cinematic technologies. Cutting edge technologies are now getting integrated into today’s home entertainment systems and challenging the limits of cinematic immersion previously achievable in a home setting. Here’s what you should know about the next generation of TVs that will grace your home.

OLED Technology – the new visual innovation in TVs

From the humble, grainy pictures of cathode ray tube TVs to the relatively clarity of LED and LCD displays, TVs have come a long way in improving picture quality over the years. The logical next step in this evolution is OLED displays, a technology that some of the best smartphones have adopted. While LED and LCD TVs make use of a backlight to illuminate their pixels, in OLED displays the pixels themselves emit light. To showcase darkest shades in a scene, the relevant OLED pixels simply don’t light up, creating a shade darker than has ever been possible on backlighted display. This pixel-by-pixel control of brightness across the screen produces an incomparable contrast, making each colour and shade stand out clearly. OLED displays show a contrast ratio considerably higher than that of LED and LCD displays. An OLED display would realise its full potential when supplemented with HDR, which is crucial for highlighting rich gradient and more visual details. The OLED-HDR combo is particularly advantageous as video content is increasingly being produced in the HDR format.

Dolby Atmos – the sound system for an immersive experience

A home entertainment system equipped with a great acoustic system can really augment your viewing experience far beyond what you’re used to. An exciting new development in acoustics is the Dolby Atmos technology, which can direct sound in 3D space. With dialogue, music and background score moving all around and even above you, you’ll feel like you’re inside the action! The clarity and depth of Dolby Atmos lends a sense of richness to even the quieter scenes.

The complete package

OLED technology provides an additional aesthetic benefit. As the backlight is done away with completely, the TV gets even more sleek, so you can immerse yourself even more completely in an intense scene.

LG OLED TV 4K is the perfect example of how the marriage of these technologies can catapult your cinematic experience to another level. It brings the latest visual innovations together to the screen – OLED, 4K and Active HDR with Dolby Vision. Be assured of intense highlights, vivid colours and deeper blacks. It also comes with Dolby Atmos and object-based sound for a smoother 360° surround sound experience.

The LG OLED TV’s smart webOS lets you fully personalise your TV by letting you save your most watched channels and content apps. Missed a detail? Use the Magic Zoom feature to zoom in on the tiniest details of your favourite programs. You can now watch TV shows and movies shot in 4K resolution (Narcos, Mad Max: Fury Road, House of cards and more!) as they were meant to be watched, in all their detailed, heart-thumping glory. And as 4K resolution and Dolby Atmos increasingly become the preferred standard in filmmaking, TVs like LG OLED TV that support these technologies are becoming the future cinephiles can look forward to. Watch the video below for a glimpse of the grandeur of LG OLED TV.

Play

To know more about what makes LG OLED TV the “King Of TV”, click here.

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of LG and not by the Scroll editorial team.