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Virat Kohli reiterates support for ‘priceless’ MS Dhoni after WI series win

Virat Kohli has said he is not concerned by MS Dhoni’s form and has said that one need not tell the former India wicketkeeper how to bat in a pressure situation.

india vs west indies 2017 Updated: Jul 07, 2017 22:22 IST
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Siddharth Vishwanathan
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Virat Kohli,MS Dhoni,India national cricket team
Virat Kohli has backed MS Dhoni’s form and said one odd instance of not finishing a game does not make it a big issue for the Indian cricket team.(AFP/Getty Images)

Virat Kohli’s record 28th century helped India secure an eight-wicket win over West Indies in the fifth and final ODI at Sabina Park. The Indian skipper’s ton, his 18th while chasing, helped India seal a seventh consecutive bilateral series win over the West Indies.

While all the focus was on Kohli’s form and the continued consistency of the Indian cricket team, there was one issue which Kohli confronted after the end of the match. MS Dhoni had endured a mixed tour of the Caribbean. In the third ODI at the Sir Vivian Richards Ground in Antigua, the former India skipper had blasted 78 off 79 balls to help India to a 93-run win. However, in the next match at the same venue, Dhoni was in the news for all the wrong reasons as he crawled his way to 54 off 114 balls as India lost by 11 runs.

Dhoni’s fifty off 108 balls, the slowest by an Indian player in 16 years, had drawn plenty of criticism. However, Kohli was not too concerned about Dhoni’s form and said one need not tell the former India skipper how to bat in a pressure situation.

“I think we get too impatient after just one game. That can happen to anyone. Any batsman can struggle and any batsman can get stuck at the crease. Even if you’re in top form, it can happen to you, so I don’t think there’s any issue,” Kohli said.

Dhoni’s finishing troubles

Dhoni has acquired the reputation of being India’s finisher par-excellence in limited overs cricket. However, in the last couple of seasons, the former India skipper has struggled to finish matches. His slowest fifty in the Antigua ODI only added to the list of matches where he has not taken India over the line.

MS Dhoni scored the slowest fifty of his career off 108 balls during the fourth ODI against West Indies in Antigua. (AFP)

His troubles started on the 2014 tour of England and in the one-off T20I. In the final over, India needed 17 to win with Dhoni at the crease but he failed to get India over the line as they lost by three runs, with the India wicketkeeper controversially not taking runs in a couple of deliveries. In the Kanpur ODI against South Africa in 2015, India needed 11 runs off the final over but Dhoni could not capitalise and India lost by five runs.

He finally regained his touch in the Sydney ODI against Australia in 2016 as India managed to get 13 runs in the final over to avoid a 5-0 whitewash. However, Dhoni once again struggled to get India over the line in two subsequent Twenty20 Internationals. In the game against Zimbabwe in Harare in 2016, Dhoni could not score eight off the final over as India lost by two runs. In the T20I against West Indies in Lauderhill, chasing a record 246, Dhoni once again failed as India lost by one run.

Dhoni in great form

Prior to the series against the West Indies, Dhoni had smashed a century against England at home in February 2017 and scored a valuable 63 against Sri Lanka at the Oval in the ICC Champions Trophy 2017 that allowed India to post a healthy score. Kohli pointed out that one odd instance does not diminish Dhoni’s contribution.

Virat Kohli hailed MS Dhoni’s contribution to Indian cricket as ‘priceless’ just before the start of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017. (BCCI)

“I think it was only the last game where he couldn’t rotate strike. He’s striking the ball beautifully. You don’t need to tell him anything in terms of how to play a situation or how to build an innings,” Kohli added.

Kohli’s support for Dhoni highlights the respect that he has for the former India skipper. Before the start of the ICC Champions Trophy 2017, Kohli had called Dhoni ‘priceless’ and stated that he hoped to lead India forward. “India have been led so beautifully by MS. I am doing what is in my little ability to take the team forward and repeat the same performances,” Kohli had said at that time.

India might be celebrating a series win, and for Dhoni, who compared himself to ‘old wine’ that gets better with time and age, this is a welcome relief after all the heat he faced in Antigua.

First Published: Jul 07, 2017 19:01 IST