T20 World Cup: Is MS Dhoni brought in to handle dressing room rift between players and Virat Kohli?

Team India’s dirty laundry has now come out in the open. It’s clear, all wasn’t well between the captain, Virat Kohli and the players within the confines of the Indian Indian team’s dressing room. Now 11cricketers will reveal to you something which to date was puzzling everyone. How and why all of a sudden BCCI has roped in MS Dhoni as a mentor of the Indian team for the T20 World Cup in UAE?

According to sources in the BCCI, Dhoni was called to be with the team not only to mentor them – but more importantly to bind them together. The source further informed 11cricketers that differences within the dressing room reached such a level that the decision-makers in the BCCI were worried that it would badly impact the performance of the team in the T20 World Cup.

The BCCI sources further confirmed that as complaints about Kohli’s differences within the team started reaching them – BCCI’s big-wigs felt that Dhoni might just be the balm for the growing dissent against the captain in the team’s dressing room.

What exactly happened in the Indian team dressing room?

As per reports, a few senior players had complained to the BCCI after Virat Kohli’s run down in the dressing room post the World Test Championship Final against New Zealand. Kohli questioned the players’ intent especially of Cheteshwar Pujara and following that vice-captain on the tour, Ajinkya Rahane had complained to BCCI secretary Jay Shah saying that the players were unhappy, IANS and New Indian Express reported.

A month after the incident, reports emerged that Virat Kohli was mulling over the decision to step down. While BCCI rubbished the reports, Virat Kohli did step down, albeit from T20Is a week later.

However, in between that, BCCI had installed former India captain MS Dhoni as India’s mentor, indicating that the board wanted to alleviate the tension between the captain and the players. As all players in India’s dressing room respect Dhoni including Kohli, the BCCI expects a calming effect in the dressing room.

Why was MS Dhoni brought in as the mentor?

  • Virat Kohli questioned the intent of three players and gave a dressing room run-down pulling up Ashwin, Rahane and Pujara.
  • It didn’t go down well with the three players.
  • Kohli’s poor run of form further complicated the situation. It was thought that his poor form led to poor decision making.
  • Ravichandran Ashwin, Cheteshwar Pujara and vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane decided to inform BCCI secretary Jay Shah about their displeasure about Virat Kohli within the dressing room.
  • BCCI immediately stepped in and talked to the players and tried to calm the situation.
  • But Virat Kohli ignoring Ravichandran Ashwin from the Test series against England further fuelled the fire. Even head coach Ravi Shastri batted for Ashwin’s inclusion but Kohli opted to go with Jadeja citing combination.
  • After the Test series, Ashwin was included in the T20 World Cup squad in place of Yuzvendra Chahal although Kohli wanted the latter while Rohit Sharma supported the decision.
  • That irked Kohli and to alleviate the situation, BCCI brought in MS Dhoni as he is widely respected amongst Indian players.
  • Virat Kohli announced he would step down from Team India’s T20I captaincy after the World Cup.
  • Dhoni’s mentorship is a temporary fix and Kohli is expected to step down from the ODI captaincy too in near future or BCCI may remove him soon.

The pandora’s box has opened and the dirty secrets from India’s dressing room have started spilling out in the public. While BCCI never accepted the rift between players and a dressing room rundown, by rubbishing reports that Kohli would step down, clearly showed the board was not aware of the captain’s thought process.

It remains to be seen if India fails to win the T20 World Cup, would Virat Kohli step down from captaincy in all formats.