MS Dhoni has become a synonym for a leader. He first led India in the 2007 T20 World Cup, and today, after 16 years, he is regarded as the greatest captain in cricket history. The young generation, as well as players facing a decline in their careers, aspire to play under MS Dhoni. When you have Captain Cool’s backing, your career is sure to see a spike. Many cricketers owe the salvation of their careers to MS Dhoni’s guidance.
Having talent alone isn’t enough for a player; they need a good leader. Many skilled players end up on the bench because they don’t get the support they deserve. Even when they do get a chance, they may feel pressure or end up in roles that don’t suit them. MS Dhoni is known for understanding what each player needs. In this space, we’ll talk about five players whose careers were brought back to life by MS Dhoni.
1. Rohit Sharma
Today, Rohit Sharma is arguably the greatest white-ball opener of all time. However, there was a time when he faced a setback in his career. He was part of the 2007 T20 World Cup-winning team and also performed decently in the IPL seasons. But being a middle-order batter, he wasn’t getting enough opportunities in the Indian team. In 2011, he was not selected for the Cricket World Cup, and this disheartened him.
In 2013, Rohit Sharma received a big opportunity when MS Dhoni decided to give him the opening spot. This turned out to be a career-changing decision for Rohit. Same year, he went on to score 219 runs in an ODI match vs Australia which solidified his place in the ODI team. The following year, he achieved an extraordinary feat by scoring 264 runs against Sri Lanka, a record that is still unbroken in ODI cricket. Since then, Rohit has been India’s first-choice opener. Rohit gives the credit of his successful career to MS Dhoni.
2. Ravindra Jadeja
Ravindra Jadeja first got the attention after winning the 2008 U19 World Cup with the junior Indian side led by Virat Kohli. Following this success, he was signed by the Rajasthan Royals in the IPL 2008. However, that season didn’t bring out the best of him, as the RR management utilized him just as a batter, and in 14 matches, he could only muster 135 runs.
The following season proved better, as Rajasthan Royals recognized and valued his bowling abilities. Unfortunately, his career hit a setback when he faced a ban in IPL 2010. This occurred as he declined to renew his contract with RR after being offered a lucrative deal by the Mumbai Indians. Jadeja made a comeback in IPL 2011 with Kochi Tuskers. Despite having a good season, he found himself back in the auction pool as the franchise got terminated. The IPL 2012 Auction turned out to be the turning point in his career as he was signed by MS Dhoni’s CSK.
Under MS Dhoni’s leadership, Jadeja found his true potential and experienced a career boost. His consistent performances earned him the role of a permanent spin-bowling all-rounder for India. He received the same backing from Dhoni in his international career as well. Today, he continues to play this crucial role, both with CSK in the IPL and the national side.
3. Virat Kohli
Virat Kohli is not short of praise. He has received worldwide popularity, and I don’t think any other cricketer has enjoyed his level of success. But this may not have been possible without MS Dhoni’s support. After becoming the full-time India Captain in 2017, Virat Kohli revealed that Captain Cool saved him many times from being dropped.
“He’ll always be the person who guided me initially and gave me opportunities. He gave me ample time and space to grow as a cricketer, saved me from getting dropped from the team many-a-time,” Virat Kohli said in 2017.
4. Hardik Pandya
In 2022, Hardik Pandya recalled a moment that he believes was career-saving for him. He reflected on his horrible T20I debut, a performance that could have been enough to sideline him from the Indian side. After conceding 19 runs in his first over, he had lost hope, but MS Dhoni gave him a second chance, and the rest is history.
“I remember giving 22 or 24 runs (19) in my first over on (T20I) debut and I genuinely thought it’s my first and last game. So, when he asked me to bowl the second over, I thought he’s referring to someone else. Then I went and obviously, things changed. So, what I learnt from him is that he never showed he’s there but he was always there,” Pandya said in 2022.
5. Shivam Dube
In 2018, Shivam Dube grabbed attention after his impressive performance in the Maharashtra Premier League, where he hit five sixes in a row. Being a batting all-rounder, he drew comparisons with Hardik Pandya. RCB rewarded him with a bid of 5 crores. However, his performance in two seasons for the Virat Kohli-led side remained poor.
In the 2021 season, he found success with the Rajasthan Royals, earning him a spot in the Indian team. Unfortunately, he couldn’t maintain his form in international cricket and was subsequently dropped from the Indian team and later from the Rajasthan Royals as well. In 2022, CSK picked him in the auction for 4 crore and it marked the beginning of his golden days.
While other franchises played Shivam Dube down the order, MS Dhoni promoted him at the batting order, following which, we have witnessed the best of Shivam Dube in the last two seasons. In the 2022 and 2023 seasons, he scored 707 runs and has established himself as a prominent member of the side heading into IPL 2024. Recently, Dube made a dream comeback to the Indian side, scoring back-to-back fifties in two T20Is against Afghanistan. He also proved handy with the ball, picking up two wickets.