In the past few years, we have become quite comfortable with phrases like, ‘Dhoni’s Team’ or ‘Kohli’s Team’. These expressions were not that frequently used as the teams were not set based on their captain’s demeanor. Now it is common, especially for team India.
When Dhoni was captaining the side, we called him Captain-Cool who manages all the resources he has available in his players. The team looked tactically used, best to the players’ abilities. When Virat Kohli came in, we knew the players were so charged up that they just didn’t bother to care about injuries. It was as if they were ready to win and even if they didn’t they would bounce back.
During Dhoni’s tenure, India won the World Cup. With Kohli, we had as many overseas victories we had never seen before. But it is always a contention if it is right to call the team its captain’s team or the player captain of the team. The difference might be minute but it brings a lot of difference.
Today, in the absence of senior players, we don’t see India having a permanent captain. The team seems to be struggling with newer players trying to adjust to the international ecosystem. We have KL Rahul, and Rishabh Pant trying their hands at being the captain and the result are not in their favor. This raises a lot of eyebrows and fingers are pointed toward the player’s leadership skills. The contention is, if it is right to do it? Since the players are young themselves, we can always say that a captain is as good as the team he is representing.
India looks in a dubious form where the team is lacking coordination. The series against South Africa started just after the conclusion of IPL 2022 when most players that are picked for the national squad were playing against each other. The team currently comprises 4 players who captained different franchisees this year. Even after being the ‘young lads’, they are given the opportunity to lead a team on a huge platform. We have KL Rahul, Rishabh Pant, Shreyas Iyer, and Hardik Pandya, to choose from them as a captain is taking a big chance because of their inexperience and putting pressure on their individual performance as well.
When a newer team is introduced in a series, the focus could be on the squad and the coach and not much on the captain. The players when coming back from leagues like IPL or BBL, need time to recuperate and get together as a team. In a squad that is full of youngsters, it is important to have a senior figure to guide them through and not call it his team or give more importance to who leads the side. For those who are thinking about Dhoni’s side or thinking of not giving up on Kohli’s aggressive 11, it is fair to call it that. They have been with the team for a long and have learned about how to manage the team in true essence. For a newer team, we will always have a team that will define how the captain is.