Virat Kohli vehemently defended MS Dhoni stating that the former Indian captain remains fit despite his age and that he remains one of the most important members of the team. “First, I don’t understand why are people only pointing him out, I’m not able to understand this,” said the Indian skipper in apress conference after India’s third T20I against New Zealand. Kohli said that the main reason for Dhoni’s place in the Indian side being questioned is because of his age. “If I fail three times, no one is going to point fingers at me because I’m not over 35,” he said.
MS Dhoni’s role came under scrutiny once again after India’s loss to New Zealand in the second T20I. India had lost too many wickets while chasing a target of 197 and Dhoni struggled to get going, resulting in the run rate climbing. Kohli, though, said that any player batting in that position would have been unable to get runs early in their innings. “You have to understand, the position in which he comes out to bat, even Hardik [Pandya] could not score in that game,” Kohli said. “Then why are we only pointing out one man? Hardik also got out in the last T20 that we played in Rajkot. We are conveniently targeting only one man which is not fair. We also have to look at the fact that by the time he comes in, either the run rate is already eight-and-a-half or nine-and-a-half and the wicket is also not the same when the new ball is bowled,” said Kohli.
“Also, the batsmen who are set from the top, they find it easier to strike the ball straightaway compared to the guys who come lower down the order,” said Kohli, “And the kind of wicket that we have played on, the wear and tear has been much more in the latter half. You have to assess everything.”
Kohli pointed out that Dhoni remains fit and that he is contributing to the team. “The guy is fit, he is passing all the fitness tests, he is contributing to the team in every way possible, tactically on the field, with the bat. If you look at the series against Sri Lanka and Australia, he did really well and in this series he hasn’t got much time to bat,” said the Indian captain, “As team management and players, we understand the situations in which he goes out to bat. We don’t get emotional and excited by the opinions of people who are looking at things from a different point of view. If you are playing, you know how the wicket is and what the situation is like. So, I think he is doing absolutely fine. He understands his game, he understands his role, but it doesn’t come off every time. He hit a six in Delhi and it was shown five times in the post-match show. Everyone got really happy. And suddenly he doesn’t score in one game and we are after his life. I think people need to be a bit more patient. He’s a guy who understands various cricketers. He’s a very smart guy. He understands where he stands with his body, with his game. So I don’t think anyone else has the right to decide that for him.”