KL Rahul, the Indian batsman and occasional captain, has opened up about the different captaincy styles of MS Dhoni, Virat Kohli and Rohit Sharma in a recent podcast episode. Rahul, who has played under all three leaders in his international career, shared his insights on how they approach the game and inspire their teammates.
MS Dhoni: The calm and caring leader
Rahul started his Team India career under MS Dhoni, who is widely regarded as one of the most successful and influential captains in cricket history. Rahul said he learned a lot from Dhoni’s calmness, behind-the-scenes work and relationship-building skills.
“I have been captained by such great leaders, starting with MS Dhoni. He was my first captain. I have seen how he handled the team and his calmness, the things that he does behind the scenes like building a relationship with each person. You need to build a relationship where these boys will fight for you… That is something I learned from him,” Rahul said.
Dhoni, who retired from international cricket in 2020, is currently leading the Chennai Super Kings (CSK) side in the Indian Premier League (IPL). He has won three IPL titles and two Champions League trophies with CSK.
Virat Kohli: The passionate and aggressive leader
Rahul then played under Virat Kohli, who took over from Dhoni in all formats of the game. Kohli is known for his passion, aggression and high standards of performance. Rahul said he was inspired by Kohli’s work ethic, fitness and diet.
“Virat was our leader for six-seven years. The performance of Indian team under him was phenomenal. The stats are there to be seen. He brought in a lot of passion and aggression to the game. He set the standards really high, and his way of leading and captaining was like leading from the front and showing the team how to achieve greatness,” Rahul said.
“We got inspired by the things that he was doing and we tried to be a better version of ourselves and that is something that Virat created…work on your fitness, work on your diet,” he added.
Kohli recently stepped down as India’s T20I captain after leading them to the semi-finals of the T20 World Cup 2021. He will continue to lead India in Tests and ODIs. He has also relinquished his captaincy role for Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB) in the IPL.
Rohit Sharma: The sharp and prepared leader
Rahul also played under Rohit Sharma, who is India’s vice-captain in limited-overs cricket and has led India to several trophies in Kohli’s absence. Rohit is also the most successful captain in IPL history, having won five titles with Mumbai Indians (MI). Rahul said he admired Rohit’s strategic thinking, game awareness and homework.
“Rohit Sharma is very sharp as a leader. He does a lot of homework before the game, he knows each person’s strengths and what he will do. He is really really good at strategies and understanding the game,” Rahul said.
Rohit is currently leading India in the ongoing Test series against South Africa. He has scored four Test hundreds as an opener since 2019.
KL Rahul: The emerging leader
Rahul himself has captained India on a few occasions, most notably in the second T20I against Bangladesh in 2019 when Rohit was rested. He has also led Punjab Kings (PBKS) in the IPL since 2020. He said he has tried to emulate some of the qualities of his mentors, but also realized that a captain is only as good as his team.
“What I have realized as a caption is that a captain is as good as his team. No matter how good Iam, if other 10 players are not on the same page, nothing you can do. That is what effort the captain has to make. You need to have a bond with each player,” Rahul said.
Rahul has been one of India’s most consistent batsmen across formats in recent years. He was also retained by PBKS ahead of the IPL mega auction next year.