|Mahendra Singh Dhoni, in New Delhi, on Monday.
A Telegraph picture
New Delhi: Virat Kohli is young in age but he has already become an integral part of the Indian team thanks to his outstanding batting. But that’s not the only reason why he is priceless to the team.
Many have seen the future India captain in him. There have been doubters as well because of his fragile mood. But the young man proved a point or two when he led the Indian team in regular captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s absence to a 5-0 series sweep in Zimbabwe.
Interestingly, Virat has also managed to impress Dhoni himself.
On Monday, during a promotional for Fitsoul, Dhoni described the Delhi batsman as someone who has the “real recipe for captaincy” and added that Virat has improved a lot in the last one year.
“Virat has really done well in Zimbabwe… He has proved to be a very expressive captain,” Dhoni said.
“As a captain, you have to be yourself… Virat has improved a lot in the last one year. He really led well in Zimbabwe… He has the real recipe for captaincy,” added Dhoni.
Dhoni, who has two World Cup triumphs (in different formats) under his belt, also praised the India A team for performing impressively in their ongoing tour of South Africa. However, he did not agree with the suggestion that more and more youngsters should be inducted in the national team immediately.
“I don’t agree with the youngster factor,” Dhoni said. “It is the performance and the fitness that matter... If you are fit and not a liability on the team, you can always play no matter of what age you are.”
Fitness of a player, the captain said, was important but not everything to be selected in the team. “One has to perform also to find a place… However, a fit cricketer is always a great help as he can save lots of runs while fielding. At the same time, you have to score runs or take wickets also. One can’t be below average and still make the squad on the basis of fitness only,” he explained.
Asked what he felt about Rahul Dravid’s suggestion that a youngster should first play Test cricket before playing the limited overs games, Dhoni said everyone has his own opinion.
“I won’t like to look at things from that angle. To me, all formats of the game are equally important. Every format has its own charisma.
“I don’t think any criteria could be set for youngsters. A lot of players in the current India team started with one-day cricket and then did well to graduate to Test cricket. There’s not a choice always.”
Dhoni partly agreed with Sachin Tendulkar’s view that selectors should consider the players’ ability to handle pressure instead of only judging them by statistics while picking the team.
“Yes, it is the right tactic,” Dhoni said. “In fact, that’s the way things are done. Selectors and captains always give priority to such things. Players who can handle pressure get a few more opportunities than the others do. But at the same time, he has to perform to cement his place in the team,” he added.
Dhoni made it clear said that he, unlike many others, was not interested in selecting all-time great teams. “It’s interesting, but you should keep it in mind that each era is different from the other… To try and mix them is like assembling the parts of two-stroke engines and four-stroke engines of scooters together.
“Let us respect all individuals who played for India… I personally would never attempt to compare and compile an all-time great India XI,” Dhoni was loud and clear.
Asked about his gym schedule during the off-season, Dhoni said: “Now that there is no cricket I am giving my body the chance to recover.
“I play badminton which helps me to keep fit and strengthen my shoulders. I will slowly get back to shape… There’s the Champions League T20 coming up.”