Dhoni in leadership role as Kohli skips optional practice

Kolkata, Jan 21: He may have relinquished the India limited overs captaincy but Mahendra Singh Dhoni is still playing a proactive role in the team affairs as he today performed the leadership role, including inspecting the pitch, ahead of the third and final cricket ODI against England here tomorrow.

India went in for an optional practice today and Dhoni was seen doing what normally a skipper does -- inspecting the Eden Gardens pitch, taking local feedbacks and giving his teammates a pep talk -- with captain Virat Kohli deciding to skip the training session and head coach Anil Kumble not around.

After the practice session that lasted for about two hours, Dhoni, who stepped down from captaincy just before the ODI series, was seen heading to the pitch that looked as flat as it can be without any tinge of grass. He went down on his knees to have a close look at the strip and felt the surface by placing both his palms.

In Dhoni's esteemed company was national selector and former Bengal captain Devang Gandhi with whom the Jharkhand dasher had a lengthy discussion afterwards.

In India's 15-run win over England in the second ODI, Dhoni was seen playing a proactive role behind the stumps, especially in the death overs, as he was seen making the field placings and giving his inputs to Kohli during the run chase of the visiting team.

Hailing Dhoni's new-found role, India seamer Bhuvenshwar Kumar said: "A wicketkeeper is always the second person after captain to assess the match condition and give inputs.