DHARAMSALA: Indian one-day skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni said Saturday he has started relying more on his younger teammate Virat Kohli, who is tipped to take over the captaincy in the shorter formats of the game.
Firebrand Kohli, 27, was named skipper of the Indian Test side after Dhoni quit the captaincy midway through the Australia tour in December 2014.
Since then, Kohli has led India to Test victories against Sri Lanka, South Africa, West Indies, and more recently New Zealand, to propel the side to the number one ranking in the longest format of the game.
Dhoni, 35, however seems to be losing his Midas touch after leading India to victory in the 2011 World Cup final.
In fact, Dhoni’s last significant ODI innings was an unbeaten 92 against South Africa in October 2015, leading to calls for Kohli to take over the mantle in the shorter formats as well.
“I have already started using him (Kohli) more. There is more interaction with him and that’s evident if you watch the game,” Dhoni told reporters in Dharamsala on the eve of the first ODI against New Zealand.
Dhoni said he often chats with Kohli on team strategy.
“If I am not on the same page, I will explain why I think this may not work. And let’s say if I go with my decision and if it doesn’t work then it gives me a fresh view…”
India, who blanked the Kiwis 3-0 in the Test series, will play five one-dayers before taking on England in a five-Test series in an exceptionally busy home season.
– Focus on fitness –
Dhoni, whose Bollywood biopic is enjoying a good run at the box office, said he was still trying to evolve as a player and was concentrating on his fitness.
“A lot of things have changed since I made my debut in 2004. The way cricket is played has changed. The kind of players that are coming in the Indian team are drastically different than what we were used to,” the wicketkeeper-batsman said.
“You only evolve with time and that’s what I am trying to do. I am sharing my experience with the youngsters and putting more emphasis on my fitness.”
Kiwi batsman Luke Ronchi said his side were banking on their recent good form in the ODIs to come back strongly against the hosts.
“It’s a completely different ball game now, completely different cricket, a cricket which we have been playing really well for a while now,” he said at the pre-match press conference.
“We are a good ODI team and if we can continue playing the way we have been playing for a while now, it’s going to make for an interesting series.”
The Kiwis have been bolstered by the return of Tim Southee, whose 135 one-day wickets put him at the top of the chart of New Zealand’s current players.
Corey Anderson, who has the highest strike of any New Zealand player in ODI history, is also back from an ankle injury.