India skipper Virat Kohli praised MS Dhoni on Friday after winning the ODI series against Australia, saying that no one is more committed to Indian cricket than the former captain.
Facing criticism for slow batting in the first ODI in Sydney, Dhoni shut his critics up by helping the visitors win the next two matches and with that, India’s maiden bilateral ODI series triumph in Australia. Dhoni played a crucial role in the decisive third ODI with his unbeaten 87-run knock in Melbourne and his unbeaten half-century at Adelaide.
“I think firstly as a team we are very happy for Dhoni. That he is amongst the runs, because it is very important to get runs under your belt to get that rhythm and get that confidence back. Especially when you have not been playing so much international cricket,” said Kohli at the post-match press conference.”
Kohli said, “Many things happen on the outside. People say a lot of things but as an individual we know that there is no one more committed to Indian cricket than Dhoni and people should let him have his space because he has contributed so much for the nation.
Calling Dhoni one of the ‘most intelligent cricketers, Kohli added, “They should let him figure out things on his own and what he needs to do. He is one of the most intelligent cricketers and he is not someone who is not aware about what needs to be done. As a team we are totally in sync with what he is doing and we are all very happy for him.”
“Dhoni batted at number four in 2016 for a while. But after that he has been pretty happy playing at five and six for the team. We felt that number five was the ideal position for him. And if you saw him bat at Adelaide as well he was pretty comfortable in that position because that allows him to do a bit of both – get some game time as well as finish games off, attacking as and when required,” Kohli added.
Speaking on balancing the team in the absence of Hardik Pandya, Kohli said, “He was more himself from that game (Adelaide) on, and he built onto this knock today. We are pretty happy with the batting combination that we had in Adelaide. When someone like Hardik Pandya is not there you have to balance somehow. So a lot of things vary in that regard. But we as a team, and myself as captain, we feel that Dhoni at five is the most logical. It is the ideal place for him and the team as well.”
Further highlighting the experimenting of No. 4, Kohli said, “If you look at that last game, Ambati Rayudu batted at four, Dhoni at five and Dinesh Karthik at six. Because we brought in Vijay Shankar and Kedar Jadhav, we didn’t want Karthik to change his spot because he is doing a good job,” he said after the third and final ODI of a historic tour of Australia.
“The middle order we saw in Adelaide is pretty much the most balanced if you look at it. The number four position, again, has been a sort of an area which we want solidified,” he said. “But because of the combinations we want to play, some times you have to make those changes. Anyone who bats at four will have to take the responsibility for the World Cup, whoever it might be. That person will have to take responsibility at number four,” he added.
“Our strength as a side has been unpredictability. We haven’t been predictable with our combinations in the past year, if you see the kind of teams we have played with,” Kohli said after the third ODI which India won by seven wickets here.”