'He gave me ample time and space to grow as a cricketer, saved me from getting dropped from the team many a times'
Not just a leader, Mahendra Singh Dhoni also played saviour to his successor Virat Kohli.
Kohli revealed on Saturday that the talismanic former skipper prevented the former’s ouster from the Indian team many a time.
Kohli has played his entire international cricket under Dhoni's captaincy since his ODI debut in Sri Lanka back in 2008.
Initially, both in ODIs and Tests, Kohli was not a consistent player and his place wasn't secure but Dhoni showed immense faith in his talent and abilities.
"He (Dhoni) will always be the person, who guided me initially and gave me opportunities. He gave me ample time and space to grow as a cricketer, saved me from getting dropped from the team many a times," Kohli said on 'bcci.tv', paying tribute to Dhoni.
"Obviously, these are massive shoes to fill. You think of MS Dhoni and the first word that comes to mind is ‘captain!’ You don't relate MS Dhoni in any other way. For me he is always going to be my captain," said Kohli.
On Wednesday, Dhoni relinquished captaincy in the limited overs format and the senior selection committee officially handed over the baton to Kohli, who was already leading the side in the longest format.
Kohli's new assignment starts with the six-match limited overs series against England starting in Pune on January 15.