Spotlight On Dhoni-Kumble Partnership As India, West Indies Kick Off T20 Bash In Florida

As cricketers, Anil Kumble and MS Dhoni played 30 Tests to gether, with India winning nine of those, losing six and drawing the other 15. In ODIs, they played just nine matches as teammates, since the legendary leggie had almost semi-retired by 2005.

In fact, Kumble’s exit and eventual retirement paved the way for Dhoni’s elevation as Test captain in 2008. It is their output as captain and coach, though, that India’s unforgiving fans will be looking to judge. Cricket watchers will get to witness how the duo goes about their task as two-time World T20 champions West Indies take on India, the first world champs in the format, in a two-match T20 International series in Fort Lauderville, Florida.

Kumble has already struck up a winning combination with Virat Kohli as India won the four-match Test series in West Indies 2-0, with the India great giving the young skipper’s aggressive approach of playing five bowlers a massive thumbs-up. He also stated that he will not try and temper Kohli’s aggression.

How Kumble will adapt to Dhoni’s calmer and more conservative style, even when he leads in limited-overs, will be interesting to watch.

While this series is in danger of being reduced to an annual junket, there is a lot riding in it for Dhoni. The wicketkeeper-batsman has had a storied career but there are questions being asked of his leadership and rapidly evaporating finishing skills as a batsman.

That much was evident in the home series against South Africa and in one of the T20 games against Zimbabwe when the skipper failed to steer the side home even in what appeared to be a routine chase against rookie bowlers. As a skipper, he has won only one bilateral series in the past year and that too came against Zimbabwe, a tour he previously opted out of and this time curiously chose to go to.

With Dhoni having retired from Tests, there is pressure on him to lead India with success and also get back his famed hitting and match-turning skills. Even Ravi Shastri, the former India team director stressed in no uncertain terms that it is time Dhoni made way for Virat to lead in all formats and be ready to enjoy the game.

Can Kumble liberate him from the pressures of leadership and spark a renaissance in his batting form? There is no better way to start it than the T20s, a format where the legend of MSD first took shape almost nine years ago in South Africa.

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