'Dhoni said, look Virat, you'll have to think about the team. Kohli's reply...': Sridhar narrates unheard tale
Former India fielding coach R Sridhar, who was a part of India's support staff during that Border-Gavaskar Trophy, shared an interesting story involving a conversation between Dhoni and Kohli before the last day of the Adelaide Test.
One of the greatest qualities of MS Dhoni was he knew the perfect timing of everything. Despite being one of the fittest cricketers around, he decided to retire from Test cricket and hand over the reins to Virat Kohli in the middle of India's Australia tour in 2014-15. He knew Kohli was the right man to take India forward in red-ball cricket. Kohli's positive mindset and leadership skills in the first Test in Adelaide of that tour definitely helped Dhoni, who had missed the series opener, made up his mind. Former India fielding coach R Sridhar, who was a part of India's support staff during that Border-Gavaskar Trophy, shared an interesting story involving a conversation between Dhoni and Kohli before the last day of the Adelaide Test.
India were behind the eight ball from the beginning of the Test match. In his captaincy debut, Kohli had smashed a magnificent century in the first innings but India were staring down a big total in the fourth innings. Sridhar said Kohli had decided to go for the target and not play for a draw.
"Virat was unequivocal in what India's approach would be the next morning no matter what target they set us to chase. We were already looking at a required rate of 4 an over in case Australia declared overnight, which day did. But Virat was unshakable in his belief that there was no question of battening down the hatches and looking for a draw," Sridhar wrote in his book 'Coaching Beyond: My Days With The Indian cricket team'.
Sridhar narrated how MS Dhoni had actually tried to convince Virat to rethink his plan of going all-out for the target on the last day of the match.
"Virat later told me that on the bus ride back to the hotel, MS Dhoni slid into the seat next to him. 'Look, Virat, you can chase down this total. You are that kind of a player and we all know that but as captain, you will also have to think about what the others. Are the batters capable of playing that positively and attempting to chase down 360 on the final day of a Test match? While making decisions, you will have to consider the strength of the entire team'," Sridhar wrote.
"Virat said he saw some merit in what MS had said but he was clear in his mind that positivity was the way forward. Virat's reply to MS was pithy, 'Only if we try, we can know na? Whether we can do it or not. We have not chased 360 on the last day of a Test match ever before because we haven't yet tried to do that. Let us try and give it a shot. Unless we try how will know how good we are?'" he added.
India were given a target of 364 and they started off brilliantly with Virat Kohli notching up his second century of the Test. He had opener Murali Vijay for company. But just when the latter was set for a century, he was dismissed for 99 by off-spinner Nathan Lyon. India kept on attacking but Lyon got wickets in regular intervals and India fell short of the target by 48 runs.
As anticipated, Australia declared overnight and our target was 364. For large parts of the chase with Virat and Murali Vijay at the forefront we were well on course and we could see that Australia were rattled. We had reached 242 for 2 at one stage, within sight of the finishing tape when Nathan Lyon got into the act. Despite Virat's second hundred of the test we went down by 46 runs but to me, that match was the beginning of where the Indian test team is today. That was the moment we knew as a team that this is how we are going to play test cricket," Sridhar said.