Watch: Umar Akmal recounts MS Dhoni’s decision to oppose team management in defense of struggling Virat Kohli

MS Dhoni-Virat Kohli and Umar Akmal

Pakistan wicket-keeper batsman Umar Akmal has shared an untold story about former Indian captains MS Dhoni and Virat Kohli from Pakistan’s tour of India in 2013.

Akmal recalled the moment when the legendary Dhoni confronted the management of the Duncan Fletcher-led Indian cricket team about Kohli after the star batsman retired from T20I cricket on June 29.

Akmal shared an intriguing anecdote during a recent appearance on a Pakistani television show when he was having dinner with Dhoni, Suresh Raina, Shoaib Malik and Yuvraj Singh.

Umar Akmal reveals MS Dhoni’s gesture towards Virat Kohli in difficult times

The Pakistani star revealed that he was always curious to know about their plans after retirement and used to ask them about them during their conversations. He recalled how Kohli was going through a tough time in his career, struggling with his fitness, during Pakistan’s tour of India in 2013.

Akmal described how an unexpected situation developed when the director of the Indian cricket team visited Dhoni’s room with a suggestion: remove Virat from the last ODI. Akmal noticed Dhoni’s calm demeanor as he listened to the director’s request. Dhoni’s response was unexpected, but in keeping with his leadership style.

Furthermore, he revealed Dhoni’s response to the coach, who would once again win the hearts of billions. Dhoni told him that he had been away from home for six months so Raina could handle the captaincy and asked him to arrange two tickets for him and Kohli to return home, highlighting the legendary Indian captain’s unwavering support to his teammates. .

Umar Akmal speaks on the 2013 India tour incident involving MS Dhoni-Virat Kohli

Umar Akmal said on a Pakistani TV show: “Honestly, I was sitting with MS Dhoni, having dinner with him. Suresh Rain, Shoaib Malik and Yuvraj Singh were also there. So I asked them, “When you guys retire, what are you going to do?” At that time, we were touring India in 2013.

“We had a successful tour and Virat was going through a tough time at that time. Then, the Indian team manager came to Dhoni’s room. He said, ‘Don’t let Virat play in the last ODI.’ So I was very worried. Then I saw Dhoni’s face. Mahi Bhai said, ‘Okay. I haven’t been home for six months. Raina will take over the captaincy. Get us two tickets, Virat, and I will come home.’”

When Akmal asked Dhoni about his decision, the former Indian captain explained that a few bad games should not lead to discarding a player of Virat’s caliber. This incident highlights Dhoni’s commitment to his team and his belief in supporting the players during difficult times, showing why he was respected not only as a captain but also as a mentor and leader.

Akmal further noted, “Believe me, I kept looking at his face while we were having dinner. So the manager said, ‘No, no, do whatever you want.’ Then I asked him: Mahi Bhai, why did you give that answer? Then, he said, “Virat is the best player.” If he has had difficulties in 3 or 4 games, doesn’t that mean we drop him?

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Notably, Kohli recently announced his retirement from T20I cricket after winning the 2024 ICC T20 World Cup in Barbados. He played a 76-run knock in the final against South Africa and won his last Man of the Match award in the format.