Ahead of the first Tweny20 international against South Africa in Dharamsala on Friday, India’s limited-overs captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni said “exchanging words or physical contact” was not his idea of aggression and it was imperative for his team to play within the rules.
The statement could be construed as a jibe at the brand of aggressive cricket endorsed by Test captain Virat Kohli, who defended his style of aggression while his premier fast bowler Ishant Sharma copped a one-Test suspension after his run-ins with the Sri Lankan batsmen during the third and final Test match in Colombo.
Dhoni said that he is not averse to playing aggressive cricket but believed in staying within the rules. “Aggression does not mean exchanging words or physical contact. Rahul Dravid had said a good forward defence to a very quick fast bowler is an aggressive play, so that is something very important. Our guys are also learning how to channelise aggression,” Dhoni said in what appeared to be a subtle message for Kohli and Sharma during the pre-match conference.
Dhoni also appeared to take a dig at Sharma without naming the bowler when he spoke about staying within the disciplinary limits. “It’s good to be aggressive but at the same time we have to follow the guidelines and make sure that all are available and there is no disciplinary action on anyone. We want to play aggressive but within the guidelines,” the skipper said.
It must be recalled that when Kohli, during the post series press conference was asked about Sharma’s boorish behaviour, the Test captain had said that he doesn’t mind as long as he is getting the results for the team.
However, Dhoni has always been one for playing within the rules. He had openly criticised the now-tainted cricketer S Sreesanth when the Kerala speedster used to indulge in mindless sledging with the opposition which resulted in losing his focus on the primary job of getting the batsman out.