Dhoni and Kohli appear at ease after change of guard

All through the Indian team’s three-hour training session at the Maharashtra Cricket Association’s stadium on the outskirts of Pune, the camaraderie between MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli seemed unaffected with the recent passing of the baton.

Virat Kohli, had his first training session as captain of India across all three formats, but it was his predecessor who continued to hog the limelight.   -  AKHILESH KUMAR

Virat Kohli may have been in charge of the Indian team. But ahead of the belligerent batsman’s first training session as captain of India across all three formats, it was his predecessor who continued to hog the limelight.

As the India cricketers exited the team bus after arriving at the Maharashtra Cricket Association’s stadium on the outskirts of Pune, Kohli, with his earphones, took a quiet exit, while Dhoni was surrounded by four security guards as he walked into the dressing room.

Minutes later, the duo was involved in a long chat after the players finished jogging. If an HR professional had witnessed it, he or she may have perceived it as a handover meeting. Later also, the duo was seen engaged in a light-hearted discussion during the team’s warm-up.

Soon afterwards, both moved on to have their batting stints in the nets. They had an extended session against the pacers and spinners alike before moving on to the outfield for fielding drills.

All through the team’s three-hour training session, the camaraderie between Dhoni and Kohli seemed unaffected with the recent passing of the baton. Dhoni, certainly, appeared to be relaxed, even tending to one of the 24 dogs who take care of the sprawling stadium’s security, towards the end of the session.

The most successful Indian captain was also involved in a chat with coach Anil Kumble and ace off-spinner R. Ashwin. Kohli also appeared to be his usual self, and was one of the last players to retire into the dressing room.

Different styles

The change in guard would mean that all the players in the team will have to adjust to a different style of captaincy. Ashwin spelt out the changes that he, as a spinner, will have to cope with, when the first of the three ODIs is staged here on Sunday.

“It will be different in terms of interactions you’ll have. Before, when I used to play alongside Mahi (Dhoni), it’s almost about communication from top of the mark to the ’keeper. And it is going to be very different (now),” Ashwin said.

“Obviously Virat will be around at short midwicket or short cover but it is going to be different. We have to try and get used to those communications. Virat, on occasions, can be a little aggressive and that’s one thing that I need to try and adjust to. And obviously, giving those extra runs to try and get a wicket is not such a bad thing.”

Ashwin also elaborated on the difference between the captaincy styles of Dhoni and Kohli.

“I’ve never played under Virat even at RCB or something. I just played one whole ODI series with him (as skipper) against Sri Lanka. He likes attacking, he likes picking wickets through the middle overs. Even at the cost of some runs.

“I feel Mahi is going to hold the key because he’s the keeper and he’s going to bring that invaluable experience with him. It’s going to be very, very important that we try and take as much valuable inputs from him and try and take the team forward,” said Ashwin.