Virat Kohli has thanked outgoing skipper MS Dhoni for “saving him from getting dropped many a time” as he gears up for his first match as India’s new one-day captain against England in Pune on Sunday (15).
The 28-year-old run-machine, who took over Dhoni’s job as leader of the Test team in 2014, paid tribute to the man he has now replaced in all three formats of the game, saying they are “massive shoes to fill”.
Indian icon Dhoni quit his post as ODI and T20 captain last week in a shock move that saw his protégé gain another promotion ahead of the six-match England series.
Dhoni is still available for selection though, and expected to feature in the weeks and months to come.
“He (Dhoni) will always be the person who guided me initially and gave me opportunities. He gave me ample time and space to grow as a cricketer and saved me from getting dropped from the team many a time,” Kohli said this week.
“Obviously, these are massive shoes to fill. You think of MS Dhoni and the first word that comes to mind is ‘captain’. way. For me, he is always going to be my captain.”
Kohli played all of his international cricket under Dhoni’s leadership since his ODI debut in Sri Lanka back in 2008, and admitted it is going to a strange feeling having the roles reversed on the field.
“I will be running to him quite a lot,” he added. “Even now when I am captain, we would always have discussions and he would come to a conclusion. If I ask him where he wants to bat, he would tell me ‘wherever you want me to’. That is the kind of person he is.
“But I would love to see him bat higher up than where he has been over the years. If he enjoys his cricket, the team is in a very solid space. His ability, understanding of the game and situations is priceless.”
Asked how he felt when he was offered the new role, the world’s number one batsman revealed: “The first reaction was this is a very special moment in my life. It’s a lot of responsibility and something I am really looking forward to.
“Starting off as a player just wanting to play for India and now having the responsibility to be captain in all three formats, I feel very grateful. For every child, it is a dream to play for the country; this is probably the biggest day of my life.”
After this weekend’s first ODI, England and India will meet in Cuttack (January 19), Kolkata (January 22), Kanpur (January 26), Nagpur (January 29) and Bangalore (February 1).