Former India skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been under consideration since Team India lost the second T20 International (T20I) to New Zealand in Rajkot. They suffered a 40 runs defeat which gave the Kiwis a chance to level the series. Dhoni scored 49 runs in that match but his failure to accelerate affected India’s chase which mounted the pressure on skipper Virat Kohli who scored 65 in an uncharacteristic inning.
There were calls from former cricketers and the exerts that Dhoni should call it time on his T20I career and the management should hunt for a youngster who can take up the role sooner. But, after winning the T20I series by a 2-1 margin at Trivandrum stadium in Kerala captain Kohli hit back at critics who took on Dhoni.
“I don’t understand why people are pointing him out. If I fail as a batsman three times, no one is going to point fingers at me because I am not over 35. The guy is fit, he is passing all the tests. He is contributing to the team in every tactical way on the field. With the bat, he did really well against Sri Lanka and Australia,” said Kohli while interacting with the media in the post-match press conference.
“In this series, he didn’t get much time to bat. You have to understand that the position he comes in to bat, even Hardik Pandya could not score in that game so why are we pointing out one man. Hardik as well got out in the last T20 in Rajkot. You are conveniently targeting one man which is not fair,” Virat had his sword out while defending his skipper.
Following India’s defeat in the second T20I former Indian skippers Ajit Agarkar, VVS Laxman and Akash Chopra ripped apart Dhoni as he was struggling to score quick runs which imposed more pressure on Kohli who eventually crumbled and the Indian team couldn’t get over the line. The former cricketers said that Team India will not miss Dhoni in the T20I cricket.
“By the time he comes in, the run rate is already 8.5-9.5. The wicket is also not the same as when the new ball is being bowled. Batsmen who are set at the top find it easier to strike the ball straight away compared to guys who come lower down the order. The kind of wickets that we played on, wear and tear have been much more in the latter half,” said the 29-year-old about his predecessor.
“You have to assess everything. As team members and management, we understand the situation when people go in to bat, we don’t get emotional and excited about opinions of people who are looking at things from a different point of view. You understand how the wicket is behaving, in what situation you are in,” he added.
Dhoni in the ODI series scored 25, 18* and 25 and in the T20I series, he contributed 7*, 49 and 0*.
“He is doing absolutely fine. He is working hard on his game, understands his role but it doesn’t come off every time. He hit a six in Delhi and it got showed five times in the post-match show and suddenly he doesn’t score in one game and we are after his life,” Kohli said, backing the 2011 World Cup winning skipper.
“People need to be a bit more patient. He is a guy who understands where his cricket is. He is a very smart guy and understands where he stands with his body and game. I don’t think anyone else has the right to decide that for him.”
This is the kind of backing a player needs from the captain when they’re not at the best and while Dhoni would’ve done just that for him, Virat has shown great leadership skills and trust in the old warrior.
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