What’s the story?
Indian off-spinner Ravichandran Ashwin has opened up on the differences between the captaincy styles of MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli. While acknowledging the former’s maturity, the 30-year old delved deeper into the latter’s aggressive and confrontational leadership.
In a candid chat with Times of India, Ashwin affirmed, “It's a very energy consuming job and a thankless job. After five years of captaincy, one should take voluntary retirement from it (laughs). I take my hat off to MS Dhoni. He did a commendable job, especially in a country where people wanted his head for a very long time.
“He insulated the team from a lot of pressure. The first thing that comes to my mind when you say MS Dhoni as captain is maturity.
“Virat has just taken over from him and he is a completely different individual. He likes confrontation, he likes to be in the thick of things, he's extremely aggressive. Sometimes I feel that he's so aggressive that I get a little scared. I wonder whether I should remove this fielder or not (laughs).
“The one thing with Virat is that you will never be wondering if that fielder has been put there in an attacking position or not. He has evolved as a cricketer and as a person in the last couple of years. He's probably a generation transforming individual.”
Ashwin made his Test debut in the 2011 home series against West Indies under Dhoni’s captaincy. It is pertinent to note that he rose through the ranks while playing for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL under the wicket-keeper batsman’s leadership.
The heart of the matter
Across all three formats of the game, no cricketer has led his country on more occasions than Dhoni’s 331 matches. Between 2007 and 2016, the veteran’s calm and composed style of captaincy was the one constant presence in an era featuring a transition from the legends of yore to the younger personnel of present.
While he bid adieu to Test cricket in 2014, Dhoni stepped down from the limited-overs captaincy early this year. Since taking over the Test mantle, Kohli has fashioned a side in his own image and taken them to the top of the rankings. With his wicket-taking prowess and reliable lower-order exploits, Ashwin has been a key component of the team’s rise.
Having played through the latter part of the recently completed home season with a sports hernia, Ashwin was ruled out of the IPL. However, he is expected to regain complete fitness before the Champions Trophy which begins in June.
Known to be one of the deep thinkers in the Indian team, Ashwin’s assessment is unsurprisingly spot on. While Dhoni marshalled his troops with a distinctive sense of tranquillity, Kohli’s in-your-face style of attacking captaincy seems to be paying rich dividends as well.