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 

India’s urban water crisis calls for an integrated approach

We need solutions that address different aspects of the water eco-system and involve the collective participation of citizens and other stake-holders.

According to a UN report, around 1.2 billion people, or almost one fifth of the world’s population, live in areas where water is physically scarce and another 1.6 billion people, or nearly one quarter of the world’s population, face economic water shortage. They lack basic access to water. The criticality of the water situation across the world has in fact given rise to speculations over water wars becoming a distinct possibility in the future. In India the problem is compounded, given the rising population and urbanization. The Asian Development Bank has forecast that by 2030, India will have a water deficit of 50%.

Water challenges in urban India

For urban India, the situation is critical. In 2015, about 377 million Indians lived in urban areas and by 2030, the urban population is expected to rise to 590 million. Already, according to the National Sample Survey, only 47% of urban households have individual water connections and about 40% to 50% of water is reportedly lost in distribution systems due to various reasons. Further, as per the 2011 census, only 32.7% of urban Indian households are connected to a piped sewerage system.

Any comprehensive solution to address the water problem in urban India needs to take into account the specific challenges around water management and distribution:

Pressure on water sources: Rising demand on water means rising pressure on water sources, especially in cities. In a city like Mumbai for example, 3,750 Million Litres per Day (MLD) of water, including water for commercial and industrial use, is available, whereas 4,500 MLD is needed. The primary sources of water for cities like Mumbai are lakes created by dams across rivers near the city. Distributing the available water means providing 386,971 connections to the city’s roughly 13 million residents. When distribution becomes challenging, the workaround is to tap ground water. According to a study by the Centre for Science and Environment, 48% of urban water supply in India comes from ground water. Ground water exploitation for commercial and domestic use in most cities is leading to reduction in ground water level.

Distribution and water loss issues: Distribution challenges, such as water loss due to theft, pilferage, leaky pipes and faulty meter readings, result in unequal and unregulated distribution of water. In New Delhi, for example, water distribution loss was reported to be about 40% as per a study. In Mumbai, where most residents get only 2-5 hours of water supply per day, the non-revenue water loss is about 27% of the overall water supply. This strains the municipal body’s budget and impacts the improvement of distribution infrastructure. Factors such as difficult terrain and legal issues over buildings also affect water supply to many parts. According to a study, only 5% of piped water reaches slum areas in 42 Indian cities, including New Delhi. A 2011 study also found that 95% of households in slum areas in Mumbai’s Kaula Bunder district, in some seasons, use less than the WHO-recommended minimum of 50 litres per capita per day.

Water pollution and contamination: In India, almost 400,000 children die every year of diarrhea, primarily due to contaminated water. According to a 2017 report, 630 million people in the South East Asian countries, including India, use faeces-contaminated drinking water source, becoming susceptible to a range of diseases. Industrial waste is also a major cause for water contamination, particularly antibiotic ingredients released into rivers and soils by pharma companies. A Guardian report talks about pollution from drug companies, particularly those in India and China, resulting in the creation of drug-resistant superbugs. The report cites a study which indicates that by 2050, the total death toll worldwide due to infection by drug resistant bacteria could reach 10 million people.

A holistic approach to tackling water challenges

Addressing these challenges and improving access to clean water for all needs a combination of short-term and medium-term solutions. It also means involving the community and various stakeholders in implementing the solutions. This is the crux of the recommendations put forth by BASF.

The proposed solutions, based on a study of water issues in cities such as Mumbai, take into account different aspects of water management and distribution. Backed by a close understanding of the cost implications, they can make a difference in tackling urban water challenges. These solutions include:

Recycling and harvesting: Raw sewage water which is dumped into oceans damages the coastal eco-system. Instead, this could be used as a cheaper alternative to fresh water for industrial purposes. According to a 2011 World Bank report, 13% of total freshwater withdrawal in India is for industrial use. What’s more, the industrial demand for water is expected to grow at a rate of 4.2% per year till 2025. Much of this demand can be met by recycling and treating sewage water. In Mumbai for example, 3000 MLD of sewage water is released, almost 80% of fresh water availability. This can be purified and utilised for industrial needs. An example of recycled sewage water being used for industrial purpose is the 30 MLD waste water treatment facility at Gandhinagar and Anjar in Gujarat set up by Welspun India Ltd.

Another example is the proposal by Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) to recycle and reclaim sewage water treated at its existing facilities to meet the secondary purposes of both industries and residential complexes. In fact, residential complexes can similarly recycle and re-use their waste water for secondary purposes such as gardening.

Also, alternative rain water harvesting methods such as harvesting rain water from concrete surfaces using porous concrete can be used to supplement roof-top rain water harvesting, to help replenish ground water.

Community initiatives to supplement regular water supply: Initiatives such as community water storage and decentralised treatment facilities, including elevated water towers or reservoirs and water ATMs, based on a realistic understanding of the costs involved, can help support the city’s water distribution. Water towers or elevated reservoirs with onsite filters can also help optimise the space available for water distribution in congested cities. Water ATMs, which are automated water dispensing units that can be accessed with a smart card or an app, can ensure metered supply of safe water.

Testing and purification: With water contamination being a big challenge, the adoption of affordable and reliable multi-household water filter systems which are electricity free and easy to use can help, to some extent, access to safe drinking water at a domestic level. Also, the use of household water testing kits and the installation of water quality sensors on pipes, that send out alerts on water contamination, can create awareness of water contamination and drive suitable preventive steps.

Public awareness and use of technology: Public awareness campaigns, tax incentives for water conservation and the use of technology interfaces can also go a long way in addressing the water problem. For example, measures such as water credits can be introduced with tax benefits as incentives for efficient use and recycling of water. Similarly, government water apps, like that of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, can be used to spread tips on water saving, report leakage or send updates on water quality.

Collaborative approach: Finally, a collaborative approach like the adoption of a public-private partnership model for water projects can help. There are already examples of best practices here. For example, in Netherlands, water companies are incorporated as private companies, with the local and national governments being majority shareholders. Involving citizens through social business models for decentralised water supply, treatment or storage installations like water ATMs, as also the appointment of water guardians who can report on various aspects of water supply and usage can help in efficient water management. Grass-root level organizations could be partnered with for programmes to spread awareness on water safety and conservation.

For BASF, the proposed solutions are an extension of their close engagement with developing water management and water treatment solutions. The products developed specially for waste and drinking water treatment, such as Zetag® ULTRA and Magnafloc® LT, focus on ensuring sustainability, efficiency and cost effectiveness in the water and sludge treatment process.

BASF is also associated with operations of Reliance Industries’ desalination plant at Jamnagar in Gujarat.The thermal plant is designed to deliver up to 170,000 cubic meters of processed water per day. The use of inge® ultrafiltration technologies allows a continuous delivery of pre-filtered water at a consistent high-quality level, while the dosage of the Sokalan® PM 15 I protects the desalination plant from scaling. This combination of BASF’s expertise minimises the energy footprint of the plant and secures water supply independent of the seasonal fluctuations. To know more about BASF’s range of sustainable solutions and innovative chemical products for the water industry, see here.

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