MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli: Analysing similarities and differences

Pravir Rai

MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli are two of the most popular cricketers on the planet

The era of Indian cricket started blossoming since the late 1990s. With Sourav Ganguly at the helm, it took off. The emergence of MS Dhoni took it to the next level. Both were different in style but they worked for the betterment of the Indian cricket.

Dhoni's shrewd leadership took Indian cricket to greater heights in all formats of cricket. He handed over the captaincy to Virat Kohli when he thought it was appropriate. Kohli, as a captain, is now on a journey to take Indian cricket to its pinnacle. Here are the similarities and differences between the two captains.

#3 Approach to the game

ICC World T20 2016: Semi-Final: West Indies v India

After exploding into the stage with his brutal stroke-play, MS Dhoni started leading the Indian side just a few years into his career. He blossomed as a batsman, honed his wicket-keeping skills and mastered the art of leadership.

Dhoni was almost nonchalant in the way he approached the game of cricket. He was humble, calm and composed in the manner he played the sport. Hence, the nickname 'Captain Cool.'

Kohli, on the contrary, showed sparks of genius and talent when he debuted. It took him no time to realize this and since then, he has been on a journey towards greatness. As a leader and batsman, he has been ruthless. His approach is aggressive, confrontational and maybe even over-the-top.

#2 Overpowering the opposition

India v Ireland - 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup

Dhoni mastered the art of winning the games when it seemed the writing was on the wall for India. Batting at number 6, he turned matches on its head innumerable times. The self-confidence and composure that he exuded is yet to be seen in any other cricketer.

Kohli, on the other hand, takes matters into his own hands very early on. Batting at number 3 or 4 (depending on the format), he is proactive and leads from the front. He focuses on producing big scores and does not believe in leaving anything to chance.

#1 Emotions on display

ICC World T20 2016: India v Australia

Dhoni did not show his emotions on the field and that made him difficult to decipher as a leader. He had acute cricketing sense. Hence, the opposition found it difficult to read his mind. This particular trait gave him a huge strategic advantage.

Kohli is just the opposite. He wears his heart on his sleeve. They see him angry and then jubilant within a matter of a few minutes, depending on the situation. He is more tactical and is keen to hone his leadership skills. What makes him superior is his ability to lead from the front on a regular basis.


Kohli succeeded Dhoni as Test captain in the 2014/15 season

Both of them share quite a few similarities as well. Their passion for cricket is unmatched. They play to win the game for their country and can produce extraordinary performances consistently.

Both Dhoni and Kohli love to nurture newer talent. They can go at any length, even if it means, crossing sword with the administration. The duo continue to learn every single day, from their teammates and the opposition. They take responsibility for their actions and move on.

Both of them have been a blessing for Indian cricket. They are among the major reasons behind India's consistency across all forms of cricket. If Dhoni was the 'guru,' then Kohli has turned out to be the perfect 'disciple.' It's time we celebrate both stalwarts in the same vein.