Aura of MS Dhoni Will Be There, Says Lakshmipathy Balaji

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MS Dhoni-Shastri
MS Dhoni-Shastri

Team India is all set to begin their ICC T20 World Cup 2021 campaign on Sunday by taking on their arch-rival Pakistan. While they have announced a strong team for that, they added former India captain, MS Dhoni, as a mentor.

And, former India pacer, Lakshmipathy Balaji, who is also a bowling coach of CSK for quite a few years now, said to News18.com that will not interfere with the roles of the coaches for sure.

“Dhoni was also a part of this same set-up until two years ago. They have been part of the group. So, it is not new for Dhoni. Knowing Dhoni very well, he is not someone who will cross the limits,” said the 40-year-old Balaji.

“It is a totally different ball game when it comes to MS as on-the-field contributor and off-the-field contributor. He has proved himself over the years because of his easy approach to the game and also the fact that anybody can go to him and talk about the game. Of course, the aura of MS Dhoni is going to be there. But, what he has maintained over the years with different age groups of cricketers is the ability to connect,” he continued.

He has the ability to break the ice between the seniors and the juniors in the team. In the last decade and a half, what I have seen of Dhoni as a leader, first as a CSK player and then as a member of the CSK support staff, is his ability to connect with the cricketers. You don’t want a disoriented unit. All the current players in the Indian team have played a lot of cricket with Dhoni. There will be no short of communication between them,” he added.

The former speedster was also asked if he had a chance to discuss MS Dhoni’s role as a Team India mentor, but Balaji said that they didn’t have a discussion about it as the focus was on CSK winning the IPL title. And, CSK did win the title for the fourth time, beating Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR).

MS Dhoni will bridge the loose link – Laxmipathy Balaji

However, Balaji also said that MS Dhoni will bridge the loose links, if any, in the Indian team. Notably, Team India have struggled in the knockout stages of the major ICC events in recent times.

“A mentor is a link holder, not a link creator. This Indian team is already led by a leadership group. So, there is less of a role when it comes to rebuilding or re-establishing, as it is an already-established unit. All the major components are already set. It is about stabilising or making it a little bit stronger. There is a marginal factor, which we fail to notice,” Laxmipathy Balaji said.

“Even if the team is successful, there is something that one is not able to address. Sometimes, that ‘something’ is noticed from the outside. It is here that Dhoni’s expert guidance comes in handy, making it easier for the team. Dhoni has been a part of all the six previous T20 World Cups – all as captain. And, in a tournament like the T20 World Cup, Dhoni is one who has understood many tournaments, been there and done that, knows exactly how white ball cricket is being played. It is these little links like communication and players opening up to him that Dhoni will look to consolidate in the team,” he added.

He also shared how MS Dhoni made things easy for young Rishabh Pant, who has become a regular face of the Indian team. He made the young Pant feel so comfortable that he used to pull Dhoni’s leg and the two have a good laugh about it as well.

Balaji continued: “One major advantage is that Dhoni is very open. This approach will make people feel comfortable with him. This is from the communication aspect of it. The trust that Dhoni has in the players and vice-versa. Dhoni has to trust your moves, your approach even though the approach can be of the old school. What I have seen across different generations of cricketers is that, even if the approach is of the old school, it is accepted because of Dhoni’s trust. It may be a little sour but they will enjoy the fruits of it in the end. Dhoni gives the players that assurance, the sense of belonging and at the same time, the individuality will be given importance.”

MS Dhoni’s tactical inputs will be very crucial

Laxmipathy Balaji also said that MS Dhoni’s inputs on the tactical side of the game can’t be compared to any other player.

As a player, as a leader, Dhoni has worked with a lot of coaches over the years. He has handled a lot of them, sometimes two-three of them in one team. And, he has come good with all of them without any hiccup, without any miscommunication, without losing the momentum,” further added Balaji.

“Dhoni has been able to get what he wants from his players. His biggest advantage is his ability to remain calm and do simple things. In this team, there may have been some tactical changes made in the knockout stages of the major tournaments. The team has, in the past, made emotional changes to the side. In hindsight, those changes were made to benefit the side, as we come to know later. Look at this side, we have a top order that is intact but the middle-order department needs to be looked into and the fifth bowler option has been unconvincing. This has been hampering India’s chances in recent times, which, I am sure with Dhoni around, will be looked after with greater clarity. With Dhoni’s experience, there will be more clarity and nothing complicated,” expressed the veteran.

However, he also opened up on the bond between MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli.

“Both Dhoni and Kohli have a cordial relationship from the beginning. Both know the kind of trust each has for the other. Am sure Kohli will take whatever comes from Dhoni and his experience,” he added.

Balaji concluded: “Dhoni is a man of simple words. He has kept it very very simple all these years. And this approach of his has got the desired results for his team, be it Team India or CSK. He is not someone who will just say from the boundary line. He will make others do it on the field. The leadership of Dhoni has its own pattern.”

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The post Aura of MS Dhoni Will Be There, Says Lakshmipathy Balaji appeared first on Cricfit.

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