When Mahindra Singh Dhoni decided to step down as skipper in the one-day cricket format also, it seemed a perfect way to indicate that he was not far away from the evening of what has been one of the brightest cricket careers. Indeed, from a pump operator's son to become a celebrity cricketer is not an ordinary tale but a saga of determination, self-belief and high-level confidence. One more positive that adds in his favour is that he has now allowed a lacuna to set in when he decided to leave but made it a smooth transition with the mantle going to the man much talked about now: Virat Kohli, who currently appears to do nothing wrong.

A leader has to be an inspirational figure. This is true of any sphere in life and more so in sports where the results come out in shorter period, during a career span and not over a life span. It’s an ability that comes from one's own disciplined approach, a clear mind and most of all strong self-belied blended with layers of confidence. The man stepping down, Dhoni himself had this in loads. As he has admitted he had come into the side when there were many seniors around. Still he kept his eye on the youngsters and groomed them and they had delivered for the country. But above all things what he thought most positive about the change happening was that he was giving way to a man who was a shrewd decision maker who need not toe the line of anyone but take the finer points if need be.

Kohli and Dhoni during a practice session / PTI

Then again Kohli has in recent times proved in no uncertain terms his ability to lead the Indian Test sides to multiple wins like never before. Both as a batsman and as a captain this Delhi man has shown a welcome departure from the past. He has inspired the batting and in his own clear away mobilised the bowling resources in hand to bring about incredible wins in Tests. With five successive series triumphs, and 18 Tests without defeat and taking India to the number one Test playing nation, Kohli has already earned basketful of accolades from all sides. In fact, experts believe he had definitely the makings of a superstar to join the illustrious lineage that starts with Sunil Gavaskar and goes on till Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid and Dhoni himself. Kohli has already begun his one-day captaincy with a grand series-win over England that was achieved no less by his dashing batting. Not just that he inspired another player Kedar Jadhav to open up into a batsman of class with his classic knocks that eventually earned him the 'man of the series' award.

Dhoni believes Kohli has eased into his job quite competently and that in the course of his career from here, he and his team will win more matches than him. There could not have been a greater compliment from an outgoing captain to his successor. In fact, will his sparkling bat continue to shine and match up to that of the wonder of Indian cricket of recent past Sachin Tendulkar, is the next question. Captaincy, everybody has seen, has only moulded him into a mature person who hardly touches a wrong chord on or off the field. He has also been a calming influence on his colleagues so necessary in these days of hyped dramas on the field. Yet the significant thing is that his batting has not bogged him down. The man has shown that with three doubles centuries last year, the first Indian player to do so. In fact, as the saying goes, he has been unstoppable lately, particularly when he gets going after the initial phase of digging in. Yet for all this the man has been humble to admit it would be very difficult for him to achieve the heady numbers of his idol, 'the little master'. But perhaps what posterity will see nonetheless is another great cricketer who took the game to another level in his own way.

Indian team pose with trophy after winning the ODI series against England / PTI


It is never easy to be a patient leader for the simple reason that there will be any number of so-called experts to 'guide' you and try and influence your thinking. May be this is what make Kohli different from his own submission that he is a very private man with not too many close people to handle. Nothing is a greater worry for a thinking captain as distraction and too many people around could be a deterrent. Kohli that way has found a balance that is congenial like the he has found in his daily routines. Fitness is something he very possessive and that is vivid on the field where he often is an example to fielders with his sure foot and anticipation. These latter attributes are what make him a special batsman who can send the ball soaring out of the playing area with short-arm jab or execute immaculate drives and pulls to the various parts of the fence. That is the winning balance of a great cricketer, ready to conquer newer frontiers. Indian cricket, already shining with all the deeds of various stalwarts, past and present, could not have asked for anything more to keep the momentum going.