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An expressive Kohli and an enigmatic Dhoni make for a mesmerizing 'jugalbandi'

Smit N. Shah

Kohli and Dhoni form a great leadership combination for the current Indian side
Kohli and Dhoni form a great leadership combination for the current Indian side

The term jugalbandi is used in Indian classical and Carnatic music to refer to a beautiful fusion wherein two different musicians / artists perform together. Playing their respective instruments in which they have gained expertise, the artists weave magic on the stage.

Virat Kohli wears his heart on his sleeve and on the other hand, MS Dhoni is inscrutable. On the field, Kohli is as expressive as a dancer whereas Dhoni's on-field expressions are sometimes as mysterious as Mona Lisa's smile.

Dhoni is a tactical genius and a keen observer, and has perhaps the best cricket brain in the world, making him Kohli's perfect wingman. To see Kohli and Dhoni together lead this Indian side to some great victories is as mesmerizing as watching a jugalbandi.

Kohli sets the field and Dhoni sets the angles

Kohli has his own ingenious ways of setting the field and more often than not he gets it perfectly right.

But when it comes to angles the man behind the wickets - Dhoni - is as good as Euclid. As the greats of the game have always said - 'cricket is a game of angles'.

While Kohli sets the field, his wingman makes sure the angles at which the fielders are placed are correct.

Kohli makes the bowling changes and Dhoni guides the bowlers

Kohli makes apt bowling changes based on the batsmen on the crease, the pitch, the conditions and the situation of the game.

Once the right bowler is chosen, Dhoni guides him from behind the stumps with his famous one-liners - 'Aage daal' (bowl fuller), 'Ye badhiya hai' (this is good), 'Taarak Mehta daal' (referring to the Hindi serial), 'Abbe thoda dheere khila, ek chakka khake dikha' (bowl slower, let him hit for six) and many such witty comments.

Plan A and B - Kohli; Plan C - Dhoni

Kohli is a pragmatic skipper who is aware of the fact that not all plans go as expected and thus keeps a plan B up his sleeve.


But when it all goes south, skipper Kohli consults the virtuoso - MS Dhoni. Both of them then compile a plan C almost immediately.

A jugalbandi off the field as well

Being the captain of a cricket-crazy nation like India is a tough ask - there are crores of fans and their 'expert' opinions, brutal social media trolling and constant media criticism.

Kohli has been at the receiving end of all this on many occasions due to his captaincy. This is when he leans on to his cool and calm wingman who always back him. Dhoni has plenty of experience in how to deal with the naysayers, and he keeps passing on his guidance to his younger replacement.

In other words, the Kohli and Dhoni partnership is a true jugalbandi!

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