Like Indian badminton under Gopichand, can Indian cricket win back under Dhoni?
With the Messiah of Indian cricket - MS Dhoni, back in the picture, can Virat Kohli's men crack the white-ball game?
Few can shrug off the fact that MS Dhoni remains as India's most successful cricket captain - almost heroically leading the Indian cricket team from the front and towing it towards unprecedented glory. In the hands of its new leader - Virat Kohli, the ever-shifting, young-blooded Indian cricket team has also dreamed the same dreams and attempted to walk in the towering shadows left by Dhoni and Co. - but somewhere, they have always fell short.
Ahead of the 2021 T20 World Cup, scheduled to be held in the months of October-November in UAE and Oman, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) announced that they are summoning back a familiar face to the dugout to mentor the Indian cricket team, currently being helmed by Kohli. Donning the role of a mentor this time, MS Dhoni, India's most successful white-ball cricketer as well as former skipper, will be present with the Indian team and hope to give them the extra push towards the finishing line.
It's true that Indian cricket, despite their immense potential, is failing to close out important tournaments - and perhaps for this reason their Messiah was summoned. Just like Pullela Gopichand transformed the entire dynamics of Indian badminton and took it up as his single-handed responsibility to carry the sport into uncharted territories, speckled and scattered with medal and title loots - from BWF tournaments far and wide, to the Asian Games, Commonwealth Games and most importantly, the World Championships and the Olympic Games.
Producing champion shuttlers like Saina Nehwal, Kidambi Srikanth and PV Sindhu - Pullela Gopichand's coaching tactics and building his players up for important stages have played a pivotal role in fetching the World No. 1 spot for both Saina and Kidambi in their roaring heydays or making Sindhu clinch a silver at 2016 Rio Games, as well. Sindhu, trained at the hands of Gopichand, is well-placed as the G.O.A.T of Indian badminton currently - she is the reigning World Champion and even has 2 Olympic medals - a silver from Rio and a bronze from Tokyo to her name - bringing in unparalleled success to Indian badminton.
Will MS Dhoni, as mentor act as the saving grace for Indian cricket?
The signs of something being amiss in the Virat Kohli camp has been glaringly visible in white-ball cricket. Kohli, while as a captain, has definitely brought a new edge to the Indian cricket team but when it comes to the pressure matches that are all-important, Kohli is yet to taste success with his motley troop of Indian cricketer. At 40, MS Dhoni, knows these waters all too well - having swum in them both with and against the tide, surpassing odds to take India to three of the most important cricket trophies - World T20, Champions Trophy and World Cup.
Meanwhile, Virat Kohli is yet to take his IPL team, Royal Challengers Bangalore to a title let alone a success of this level, yet. According to The Indian Express, sources said India's dismal white-ball record in ICC events under captain Virat Kohli and coach Ravi Shastri is one of the driving factors behind the decision to include MS Dhoni as the mentor. The Kohli-led brigade has either fallen at the final hurdle or failed to make it to the final in the Champions Trophy, and World T20 and 50-over World Cups.
While it did a lot of people by surprise, including office-bearers of the BCCI when Jay Shah made this announcement - it cannot be denied that this just might be India's missing charm. Dhoni, by returning to the dugout, with his bag of experiences and strategies, like Pullela Gopichand's saving act of badminton, can do the same with Indian cricket - act as the talisman.
According to TIE, a BCCI official said, in support of this inclusion that, "No one can guide this Indian team better than Dhoni. He has plenty of experience and the players trust him a lot. His presence in the dugout will help players and support staff. Jay (Shah) felt that Dhoni is the only person who can help the team during the T20 World Cup, so he dialled him."
With Dhoni back in the camp, Virat will have an added confidence to help his boys to chalk out the plan to the T20 crown. We can only hope for a Gopichand act from Dhoni now as he steps in - pulling the strings once more, not from the field this time, but off it.