Kumble: 'Dhoni managed senior players well'

M. S. Dhoni had a phenomenal career as captain and one of the highlights of his leadership tenure was the apt handling of senior players in the team, according to current India coach Anil Kumble who himself had made way for the wicket-keeper batsman to be Test captain in 2008.

Dhoni succeeded Kumble as Test captain after the leg-spin legend announced his retirement midway into the home series against Australia in 2008.   -  k. r. deepak

He was the Test captain at the start of Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s stint as India’s Twenty20 and ODI captain. When he was down with a shoulder problem during the home Test series in 2008, Dhoni led India in a Test for the first time. After his retirement later that year, Dhoni took over as the India captain across formats. And now, as Dhoni passes on the baton to Virat Kohli as India’s skipper in all three formats, Anil Kumble finds himself as the coach of the national cricket team.

“The first phase was probably easy for me, because I was old and it was easy for me to say, “here MS, take over”. It was very difficult for me to continue at that point in time, the body was not willing,” Kumble said on the sidelines of India’s second successive gruelling training session at the Maharashtra Cricket Association Stadium in the outskirts of the city.

“But I thought it was the right time for me leave as well because MS was ready to take over the Test captaincy. He had just won the T20 World Cup and then the one-day format in Australia for the first time in a triangular series. He had done all the right things and I felt it was the right time for me. And of course, the body told me it was the right time as well.”



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Cut to 2017, and Kumble is sure that the clock has kind of rolled back almost a decade with Dhoni deciding to move on and continue being a part of the set-up. For the second day in succession, Dhoni continued to bat among the first four batsmen during India’s net session. It was a sort of a giveaway that he and Yuvraj Singh, who also had an extended stint, will share the No. 4 and No. 5 slots during India’s three-match series against England.

Read: Kumble: 'There is competition for places in the team'

Dhoni himself has been vocal about his desire to bat up the order, rather than continuing to play the role of the finisher that he has played to near-perfection for almost a decade. Even Kohli had recently indicated that he would like Dhoni to bat higher up the order.

After his long stint in the nets, a leaner and fitter Dhoni took a short break before moving to the other side of the stadium along with strength and conditioning expert Anand Date. Dhoni was seen sprinting for a good time before joining the rest of his team-mates.

Referring to Dhoni as a “selfless” cricketer, Kumble stressed on the fact that “other than Yuvi (Yuvraj), everybody else has started their careers under MS”. The coach was sure Dhoni being around will help Kohli improve his leadership abilities as well.

“Virat came into the side when MS was the captain, so the bonhomie and the bond that they have, it will only help Virat grow as a leader. Virat has shown the exceptional quality that he has and what he brings to the team both as an individual and as a leader. That has certainly rubbed off on a lot of other individuals in the team and we have seen the results in the Test format. I am sure even in the one-day format he’ll be equally good.

“Now really looking forward to MS as a batsman and 'keeper and as a leader. He’s still a leader in the team and that’s something we will be looking forward to.”

Agencies add:

Dhoni’s glorious tenure as captain began with the World T20 triumph in 2007.

“From there to 2007 to 2017, 10 years of captaincy is phenomenal. It goes to show the capabilities of MS as a leader and also what he has been able to achieve during the transition phase and also when the seniors left as well, it is not easy coming into the team as captain and having so many senior players. He managed them really well.

“He (Dhoni) not just got the best out of them but also got the best for the team. Both as number one Test side and later on winning the World Cup and then Champions Trophy and many other victories, he has been part of,” Kumble said referring to the time when the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Sourav Ganguly, VVS Laxman, Virender Sehwag and Rahul Dravid played under Dhoni.